Category Archives: Ad Campaign

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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Filed under Ad Campaign, Currently Reading

Ad Campaign – Cutex, 1960

Which to try first? You’ll run out of fingers and toes before you decide! Because Cutex has loads of gay new polish colors you’ve never worn before. And summer is the time to try them. The time to experiment with all the mad, marvelous shades like “Coral Sand” and “Capri Blue.” The time to tip your toes with Pearls and be a lovely sea siren.  You are just not in the fashion swim unless you are wearing the latest fun shades by Cutex.

I’m pretty sure that in 1960 nobody would take this ad literally and paint every nail a different color.  But in today’s world this ad would be pinned to a thousand Pinterest boards titled “Nail Inspiration.”

I actually don’t remember blue, purple, and green polish from the early Sixties, but then I was not exactly living in a fashion forward community.  Even though I was only five years old in 1960, I had an older cousin and a group of teenage girls at church who were my style idols.  I’d have noticed blue nails.  This is another good example of how our memories do not always reflect the over-all reality of what was happening.

For some time I’ve realized that if I could go back in time and shop any era for my wardrobe, it would be the early Sixties.   It was an era that I remember, but I never really got to wear the styles associated with the time.  I loved the clothes the older girls wore: Jackie Kennedy suits, Audrey Hepburn slacks and boatneck tops, sophisticated sheath dresses.  But by the time I was dressing as a teen and not a little girl, the mod age was in full swing and sophistication was O-U-T.

I’m not sure if I love the looks of the early Sixties so much because I have such fond memories of the clothes, or if my own preferences for un-fussy clothing attracts me to the styles of that era.  It’s probably a bit of both.  At any rate, a quick look through my pattern collection tells the tale.  At least fifty percent of my patterns date from 1958 through 1965.  I either know what I like, or I have a real problem!

 

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Ad Campaign – Howland Swim Caps, 1952

Soft, Lovely, Dry Hair Thanks to 

U.S. Howland Hair-Dry Swim Caps

1 Incurving V-Ribs keep water out!

2 Watertight suction band seals hair in!

3  Small, medium, and large sizes assure perfect fit.  Special size for children.

Swim and dive all you like, Howland protection stays with you.  Buy U.S. Howland Swim Caps wherever bathing accessories are sold – in Chartreuse, Red, Yellow, Blue, and White.

Note that the “in-curving ribs” are patented.  Whether or not the ribs actually worked is another matter, but  patents are good because patent numbers are often found inside swim caps  and are a useful tool in dating an otherwise tricky item.  Just remember that the date is not necessarily the date the item was made; it is the earliest possible date of manufacture.

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Ad Campaign – Revlon, 1946

Watch Revlon’s new “Tortoise Shell”

Another new color point-of-view originated by Revlon!  It will be seen here (with formal dress in town) and there (punctuating a suntan at Palm springs) this winter.  Watch “Tortoise Shell” … russet with luminous high-lights… special-occasion color for matching lips and fingertips.  By the 4th of July, it will be another smart Americanism!

Despite the name, it just looks like red to me.  Maybe the strategy was to call it something very un-red, and see if women bought it. It’s an interesting concept.

The sunglasses, which were also a Revlon product, are an odd combination of tortoise and bling.  I guess they were designed to blind your beach companions.  The scarf is by Tina Leser, and appears to be one of her wonderful hand-painted creations.

The photographer was Constantin Joffé , and if you didn’t know better, this could pass for a modern instagram photo.  There has to be an app that will put your photo in the sunglass lense!

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Ad Campaign – Premier Nylon Thread, 1949

Naturally 

Nylon Sewing Thread

for

Nylon Garments.

Naturally

Premier S.S. Neophil

…Nothing Finer!

The FIRST Successful Nylon Sewing Thread

This is a seriously odd ad, from the poem-like copy to the naked women worshiping(?) the nylon garments hanging from trees.  Naturally!

But beyond that, this is actually a useful ad as it helps establish when nylon thread was first used.  Nylon was first marketed in 1938 as stockings, but due to WWII, nylon garments were not really available until after 1945.   After the war there was a great deal of experimentation with the fiber, and new uses, especially lingerie and blouses, were developed.

I don’t know when nylon thread became available to the home sewer, but I can remember people being really excited about it in the mid to late 1960s.  Perhaps this is one of those cases where my experiences do not firmly mesh with the historical facts.

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Ad Campaign – Aileen, 1957 UPDATE

The best suggestion of all? – Aileen’s mix-or-match cotton knit coordinates for career or campus…

In 1957 Aileen was the new brand in town.  The company was formed in 1956 as Aileen Knitwear.  In the early Sixties the company branched out with Aileen Girl and Aileen Teen, but my recollection of the brand starts with their junior line, The Red Eye.  It was my favorite brand in my high school years, and I spent my entire first paycheck at age sixteen on three matching knit pieces.

I think the best advice I ever gave my ten and eleven year old students was to never put to paper anything that they would not want the whole world (meaning their parents and friends) to know. I’m afraid these two young career women didn’t get such good advice!

I’ve been thinking a lot about communication over the past few days.  If I were to give the same advice to students today, I’d have to go beyond passing notes to include emails and texts and facebook posts.  For better or for worse, the way we communicate has changed.

One of the joys of writing The Vintage Traveler is all the communication I have with readers.  Whether it is comments here on the blog, emails, or comments on twitter or instagram, I’m always learning from the smart people who check in here.  And I’m appreciative of all the great ideas and suggestions I’ve received over the years. I consider The Vintage Traveler to truly be a group project.

I do need to remind readers that I do have a posting policy.  It is very rarely that I feel the need to remove a comment, but I will do so to maintain the positive atmosphere of The Vintage Traveler.  Most of the few comments that I’ve removed are on an old post about the American Pickers television program.   I understand people hating that show, but I still can’t allow comments that might be slanderous.

I get several emails a day from people wanting help with this or that label, or asking about something they have in their collection or for sale.  I welcome these questions, especially when a dialogue about the object results.

But lately I’m getting lots of question emails, and after I take the time to answer, I never hear another word from the questioner.  This is usually from an emailer who has stumbled on The Vintage Traveler through a google search of their item.  If a person can’t be bothered to take ten minutes to explore the site and try to figure who the human being behind it is, then that’s a pretty good indication that my answer to them will not be acknowledged.  

But then, there are those of you who have emailed me out of the blue, a conversation ensued, and I now count you among my true friends.  It’s all about the conversation.

UPDATE

In a world where so many clothing and textile businesses have closed, it’s nice that there are a few older businesses that are still alive and well.  Many of these have extensive archives can pretty much identify any of their vintage products.  Unfortunately, in the past year I’ve gotten emails from two of them, asking me not to publicize the existence of their archives due to excessive requests for information.

I’m sure that most of this is due to the fact that many of these archive departments are understaffed, and they simply don’t have the time to do the research.  But I can’t help but wonder if they are just tired of taking the time to answer questions for which they get no return acknowledgment.  I can’t say that I blame them.

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