The 1960s Sharpies started the Sharpie trend with their cable knit cardigans in colours like maroon, bottle green and mustard, mainly worn by the boys and sky blue or yellow for the girls. The cardigan designed in the 1970s by F & L Conte Knitwear at 873 High Street, Thornbury became the standout fashion to the 70s Sharpies.
Firstly they were bought off the shelf, with stripes in various widths and colours, as a V-neck, round neck or with a collar, similar to cardigans available from Joseph Saba, Northcote and Stag. Mr Conte manufactured his cardigans from a shop front, so soon the Sharps were requesting custom colours and patterns to stand out from their mates, front pocket flaps were added on the chest, as well as a small buttoned belt on the rear. The average adult wage in 1972 was around $90 per week with those just leaving school or starting an apprenticeships about half that, so a Connie back then at $26 equates to about $350 today.
Eventually these cardigans became known as "Connies" and other companies like Sam's Knitwear in Sydney Road, Coburg soon followed with custom design manufacture. By the mid 1970s, Connies were the top teenage fashion trend of Melbourne and commercial companies cashed in with brands such as Goodman, Calabria, Waldrons, Onyx, Knitland and Wellsknit.
The end of the 1970s saw the end to these distinctive cardigans, until today with the recent interest in Sharpie culture from exhibitions in 2006 and 2010 and the numerous books on Sharps that have recently been published. To differ from the original Connies, these reproductions are produced under the same name "Conny" with matching high quality materials and slim fit, they are still made in Melbourne by a local Knitwear company.
Words: Stef Egan & Julie Mac
Special thanks to the City Sharps, Julie Mac & Stef Egan.