Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Sweater - Home Run

Home Run

  • Object:

    Sweater

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1969 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Ross, Mike, born 1936 (designed)
    The Ritva Man (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wool and acrylic blend frame knit and machine sewn with silk machine-embroidered appliqué

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mike Ross

  • Museum number:

    T.14-2000

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Ritva and Mike Ross were part of the vibrant art, fashion and music scene of ‘60s and ‘70s London and they produced some of the most innovative knitwear of the period. Mike settled there after leaving the USA, attended a non-diploma course at the RCA in 1963-4, while Ritva came from Helsinki, and went to the London School of Printing. She later became a model, and worked at Jane & Jane where Jean Muir was the designer. Ritva started her self-named company with Mike Ross in 1966, wholesaling to boutiques such as Annacat, Browns, and Countdown on the Kings Road.

Ritva, a self-taught knitter, designed and made samples of women's and children's wear. Her body-hugging garments included mini-dresses, skirts and even jumpsuits and her work was featured in magazines such as Nova, Harpers & Queen, and Life. Ritva knitwear used a variety of stitches including crochet, and different yarns: wool, silk, acrylic, in a range of colours. These were imported from France where they were produced in richer colours than those available in Britain. Outworkers knitted the garments using domestic knitting machines, and all were hand-finished in the Ritva workroom.

Mike began ‘The Ritva Man’ label in 1969, designing sweaters for his Hyde Park baseball team of American ex-pats. These ‘Home Run’ and ‘Strike Zone’ sweaters included appliquéd motifs, and lower sleeves of a different colour, inspired by the layered shirts worn by baseball players. After an article by Molly Parkin of The Times, the sweaters became fashion items in men’s boutiques like Blades and Michael John.

In 1971 Mike Ross asked artists Elizabeth Frink, David Hockney, Patrick Hughes and Allen Jones to design motifs for the first limited edition 'Artist Collection'. The sweaters incorporated an embroidered appliqué, translated from the original design under the guidance and approval of each artist in collaboration with Mike Ross. The sweaters were expensive at £40, or £782 today (based on average earnings, see www.measuringworth.com, accessed 20.7.12). Perspex box frames were also available so sweaters could be displayed when not being worn. Mike Ross worked with four other artists - Patrick Caulfield, Antony Donaldson, Ken Price and Richard Smith - to produce a second series in 1972, the same year that the Ritva shop opened at 8 Hollywood Road, off Fulham Road.

Mike Ross’s film and record business contacts lead to many sweater designs for films such as Clockwork Orange (1971) and The Shining (1980). The Rolling Stones, Simon and Garfunkel and The Doobie Brothers all had Ritva sweaters made in support of album tours. Although these were designed primarily as menswear, they had unisex appeal and were ordered and worn by celebrities such as Brit Eckland, Raquel Welch and John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The company closed in 1980.

Physical description

Navy blue long-sleeved, crew neck sweater with lower three-quarters of each sleeve knitted in beige and yellow and green floral applique on each upper arm.

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

1969 (made)

Artist/maker

Ross, Mike, born 1936 (designed)
The Ritva Man (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Wool and acrylic blend frame knit and machine sewn with silk machine-embroidered appliqué

Dimensions

Length: 72 cm, Circumference: 100 cm chest

Object history note

This is a prototype designed by Mike Ross and produced by Ritva for 'Home Run' a baseball sweater for the team, HYPISCO, or Hyde Park International Softball Co-operative Organisation, a team of expatriate and visiting Americans who played softball in Hyde Park every Sunday morning. It features two radical new ideas in men's knitwear: sleeves of a different colour, inspired by the American baseball tradition of wearing a short-sleeved sweater over a long-sleeved one, and applique.

Historical significance: Ritva sweaters were remarkable for their design: sleeves a different colour from the body, the use of appliqué. The style too was original; the body-hugging pullover style, to be worn without a shirt or blouse underneath, was very new. At a time when knitwear meant a grey cardie, Ritva's sweaters were revolutionary.

Descriptive line

M, British, 1969, Mike Ross and Ritva Ross for The Ritva Man, prototype for 'Home Run', navy blue with grey sleeves, yellow floral applique

Materials

Wool; Acrylic; Silk

Techniques

Machine sewing; Embroidering; Frame knitting

Categories

Fashion; Textiles; Clothing

Production Type

Prototype

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.