The June 2011 podcast is all about one of the most outrageous fashions of the twentieth century, the zoot suit. As jazz music spread aruond the world, the zoot followed. University of Pennsylvania historian Kathy Peiss records its adventures in Zoot Suit: The Enigmatic Career of an Extreme Style.
In the podcast interview, Peiss talks about the suit's development in Harlem and adoption by Mexican American youth in Los Angeles. Everyone from the federal government to cartoonist Al Capp had something to say about the drape shape phenomenon. After the zoot suit riot of 1943, cultural critics weighed in. The suit got a bad rap, but its popularity spread around the world. Toward the end of the twentieth century, the style became an emblem of ethnic resistance as typified in the Luis Valdez play, "Zoot Suit." And the suit is still in style today in some circles.