Not currently on display at the V&A

Sweater

ca.1968 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

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.


Object details

Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Frame knit and machine sewn in rayon
Physical description
A short-sleeved, knee length maroon and blue striped cardigan, with a V-neck and fastened with 3 buttons up the front. The body is stocking stitch, while the sleeves are a textured stripe of 3 knit and one open stitch.
Dimensions
  • Approx. length: 104cm
  • Chest, approx. circumference: 41cm
Production typeReady to wear
Marks and inscriptions
Ritva / Ritva Ross/ LONDON/ Made in England (Label; woven; polyester)
Credit line
Given by Mike Ross
Object history
Historical significance: Ritva made the cardigan a fashionable garment again by lengthening it to the knee, featuring short sleeves, using stripes and more than one colour.
Summary
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.
Collection
Accession number
T.58-2000

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Record createdMarch 10, 2000
Record URL
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