Category Archives: Ad Campaign

Ad Campaign – Cohama Fabrics, 1947

Today’s post is a rerun from over two years ago.  I recently ran across this and decided to share it with all who missed it the first time around.

I suppose I ought to have a category titled, “Things I didn’t know,”  because that is where this entry would have to be placed.  Or it could go under “Things I learned while looking for something else,”  or even, “Things I should have noticed before but did not.”

While looking through my collection of American Fabrics magazines, the above ad caught my eye. It tells how fabric maker Cohama maintained the Cohama Hand-Looming Workshop,  a place where the fabric designers could experiment with their ideas before committing to large runs on the mechanized looms. I thought that this was a pretty neat idea, and gave Cohama some silent brownie points for such a practical solution to what can be a costly problem.

But it turns out that Cohana was not the only wool manufacturer who relied on the hand loom to try out the new ideas of the designers.

In the Fall 1949 issue of American Fabrics there is a small article, “Ideas Tailored on a Moment’s Notice”, in which they show the hand weaving operation at Forstmann Woolen Company.  Called the Provincial Designing Room, it was under the direction of Miss Margaret Swanson, and employed two hand looms on which weavers would interpret the ideas of designers working for clothing manufacturers. The designer could watch the fabric develop, and make changes if necessary. After the designer was satisfied with the sample, it would be processed by the mechanized looms.

I love the quaintness of the Provincial Designing Room!  In the photo above Miss Swanson is working with Ellen Brooke of Glenhunt (a suit and coat maker) and a hand weaver to develop the fabric to Miss Brooke’s satisfaction.

Brooke and Swanson, looking at how the newly developed fabric cuts and drapes.

The hand weaver, Alice Berman, making the sample worked out by Swanson and Brooke.

A swatch of the handwoven sample

And where the run of fabric will eventually be made, on the fully automated looms at Forestmann.

All illustrations are from the Fall 1949 issue of American  Fabrics and are copyright Reporter Publications, Inc.

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Ad Campaign – Lady Manhattan, 1958

The mood is excitement and now is the time for Lady Manhattan

Smoothest classic shirt in sight… in Reeves silky Supima cotton broadcloth.  And it boasts the distinctive virtues of all Lady Manhattan shirts…precision cut, collars and extra-long stay-in shirt tails.

Last week when I was looking for a Lady Manhattan ad I couldn’t find one, but better late than never, no?   The shirt in the ad is very similar to the two that I have with the open collar, French cuffs and French front.  I love that the model is wearing it with slacks, even though she’s all glammed up otherwise.  But how else would one present oneself when flying their jet fighter?

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Ad Campaign – Ceeb of Miami, 1960

Thunderbird is the word!

For your sculptured Ceeb swimsuit… get inside this faille Lastex creation from Indian Summer Collection.  A vibrant hand screened print in gold or lilac combinations…For smashing coordinates, try the cotton skirt and the Italian straw hat with matching band and snood.

I find this ad to be a bit confusing.  I suppose the print is a bit “Indian” inspired, with the reference to Thunderbird and the fact that they called the collection “Indian Summer.”  But what’s with that sculpture (Is it African, or is it modern?) and the odd arm gestures?

I love that the ad shows the coordinating skirt and the hat with the matching band and Snood.  But who was still using the word “snood” in 1960?  Odd.

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Ad Campaign – Cutex, 1967

Catch a perfect wave of color from Cutex

…True color – blended into lipstick with a new kind of smoothness – awash with a frosted gloss!  Cutex, actually Cutex created it.  The perfect combination of the things you loved about lipstick with the modern message of gloss.  Four luscious looks you’d brave the briny for.  It’s the new wave of Fashion – from Cutex, with color coordinated nail polishes.  You’ll find the effect positively tidal.

It’s rather interesting that this is an ad for a product that you can’t even tell whether or not it is being used.  That was the state of lips in the mid to late Sixties though.  The lips were truly barely there, but note the heavily made up eyes.

And also note, there is no bathing or surfer cap!

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Ad Campaign – Virginia Slims, 1972

Back around the Turn of the Century, fashion dictated that you run around the tennis courts in layers upon layers of clothes.  That made you look elegant when you moved.  If you could move.

I can only imagine the thousands of words that have been written by scholars of women’s studies about the Virginia Slims ad campaign and their crazy mixed message of “You’ve come a long way,” and then, “baby.”  So I’ll leave that issue to others and just talk a bit about the clothes.

In case you are not old enough to actually remember the ads, they put a recreated scene from the past showing how it was for women in the “good old days,” and then the way it was in the early 70s after women got their own cigarette.  The recreated scenes showed an interesting mishmash of Edwardian looking clothing on women who were usually sneaking a smoke.

In the “old” photo above the two tennis players do look overdressed, so what were women wearing to play tennis in 1905?  According to tennis player Violet Sutton:

But it’s a wonder we could move at all.  Do you want to know what we wore?  A long undershirt, pair of drawers, two petticoats, white linen corset cover, duck shirt, shirtwaist, long white silk stockings, and a floppy hat.  We were soaking wet when we finished a match.*

So change these women into white stockings (and shoes as well) and it looks to be fairly close to Violet’s memories.

*Interview with Violet Sutton recounted in “The Sutton Sisters” by Jeane Hoffman, published in Fireside book of Tennis, 1974, quoted in When the Girls Came out to Play, Patricia Campbell Warner, 2006

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Ad Campaign – Blassport, 1971

We were discussing earlier this week the revivals of knickers that have taken place over the years.  One was in the early 1980s, reportedly triggered by a photo of Princess Diana taken while on her honeymoon.  A quick look through the vintage patterns at Etsy confirmed that knickers were big in 1982.

I remembered that knickers were a bit of a fad for a short while during my high school years, 1970 through 1973.  Again, I turned to etsy, did a search for “knickers pattern,” and quickly realized that 1971 was the year of the knickers.

I would have been a sophomore or junior during that year, and while I can remember some of the girls at my school wearing them, I was not tempted by the knickers.  At the time I was into really short skirts, and especially, short culottes.  It’s a bit strange that they were allowed due to our no pants rule in the dress code, but a blind eye was turned to culottes and knickers.  I think the attitude was that they were better than the short skirts we were wearing.

It was a good thing that I did not buy into the knickers fad because it came and went very quickly.  Had I acquired a pair I’d have been stuck having to wear them because clothes were expensive and we had to wear what was bought until we either outgrew them or wore them out.  I would have been a fashion has-been!

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Ad Campaign – Levi’s, 1954

Look pretty…  and you’re bound to, in these sparkling new separates from Levi’s Denim Family.

I love a good company history, and Levi’s by Ed Cray did not disappoint.  It’s not a complete history because the book was published in 1978, but in a way it makes it all the more interesting to know what has happened in the company in the past thirty-six years.

You might know that Levi Strauss was an immigrant who ended up in San Francisco.  There he opened a dry goods store soon after his arrival in the city in 1853.  His brothers in New York shipped goods to him which he then sold first as a peddler, then as a shopkeeper.  His big moment came in 1872 when tailor Jacob Davis wrote to him about marketing the duck cloth (canvas) overalls he had devised.  To make them stronger, Davis put in metal rivets at certain stress points.

Strauss and his brothers applied for a patent for Davis, and the rest is, well, history.  Davis sold a half interest in the patent to the Strauss family in return for them handling the manufacture of the pants.  Soon Levi Strauss and Company was selling riveted jeans all over the West.

At first the brothers tried having the jeans manufactured in New York and then shipped to San Francisco, but it soon became apparent that shipping problems made a local factory necessary.  A factory was contracted in San Francisco, and it produced the jeans until the earthquake in 1906.  By that time Levi had died and had passed the company on to his nephews.  The old factory being damaged, the company decided to build a new one which was owned by them.  For the next one hundred years Levi’s jeans would be made primarily in factories owned by the company.

Through the years, the growth at Levi Strauss and Co. was ongoing and consistent.  Even though the family grew wealthy and the company greatly increased in size, the product was mainly regional, being confined to the American West.   And the company was still owned and run by the descendants of the Strauss family.

It took World War II to bring about big changes.  Until the war and the scarcity of materials, there had never been any changes in the design of the jeans, which was the button fly model 501.  During the war, the back cinch belt was eliminated along with six buttons that were for suspenders.  And for a while there were no belt loops, but they were added back after the war.  During the war many GIs and war workers stationed on the West Coast had discovered Levi’s jeans, causing a demand for them nationwide.  It was just what the family had been wanting – a new market for their product.

The factory in San Francisco was no longer able to keep up with demand, and so Levi Strauss and Co.  opened factories all over the country.  They also expanded their product line which included women’s wear.  The company had experimented with Levis for women in the 1930s, but the line was not successful, but the more casual lifestyle of Americans after WWII made jeans more appealing to women.  Along with the jeans, Levi Strauss made casual separates to coordinate with the colors of the jeans and the shorts made of denim.

Levi’s became even more popular with young people because they were being worn by actors such as James Dean and Marlon Brando, but it was the counter-culture movement of the 1960s that really caused the jeans market to explode.  Take a moment and think about how interesting it is that a movement that was protesting against the status quo was the catalyst for an economic boom for the denim industry.

After the 1960s the growth continued at a frenzied pace.  International expansion took place, with Levi’s jeans being manufactured in the countries where they were sold.  Changes in the design had to be made, especially through the bell-bottom years.  But by the mid 1970s the company was over-extended in some of their markets, and the quality of the jeans made outside the USA had slipped.  The company had to take drastic action to correct the problems and save Levi Strauss and Company’s reputation.

Through all the years and the ups and downs, Levi Strauss remained a company that was committed to their employees.  During the time that factory was closed due to the earthquake, employees continued to receive a paycheck even though most of them were not able to work.   The owners managed to keep the factory going during the Great Depression.  Factory employees made a higher wage than was the industry standard.  The Strauss family took pride in making sure their employees were happy and not tempted by the union organizers.

The book ends in 1977, but there were signs even then that big changes were coming to the clothing manufacturing industry.  For the first time some Levi Strauss employees lost their jobs due to a reorganization of a distribution center.   It was, of course, a drop in the bucket compared to the American jobs lost due to manufacturing of Levi’s products being out-sourced in the years to come.

Today, Levis Strauss and Company is still owned primarily by the descendants of the family of Levi Strauss.  None of the family is involved in the management of the company.  Very few Levi’s products are made in the USA.  The book sure makes one nostalgic for the good old uncomplicated days of the 1950s.

I lucked into this book at a thrift store, but it can be bought very cheaply on Amazon. It’s an entertaining and interesting book, though the parts where the author sings the praises of the charitable work of the Strauss family gets a bit tedious.

1956

1958

 

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