Tag Archives: 1970s

Marimekko and Design Research

I’m a big fan of the Finnish textile company, Marimekko, and I recently was lucky enough to have this vintage shirt from the company appear in my mailbox.  It is a gift from one of the most generous persons I know, Beth Lennon, or Mod Betty at Retro Roadmap.

Marimekko became known to Americans through the efforts of Design Research, what many consider to be the first lifestyle store.  Design Research was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1953, and was primarily a store selling items for home decor.  After owner Ben Thompson saw Marimekko textiles at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels,  Marimekko clothing and fabrics were added to the store.

Design Research carried  Marimekko until the stores were closed in 1978.  Through the years Design Research had expanded into different markets, and by the late 60s the company was showing signs of trouble.  According to some accounts, their expansion was poorly thought out, with some of the markets not being suited for the store’s aesthetic.   And of course, times were changing.  What looked so modern and fresh in 1953 was looking dated by the mid 1970s.

All of the Marimekko designs are copyright protected, and because of that there is sometimes a copyright date on the tags from the 1960s and 70s.  Mine is missing the tag, but my guess is mid 1970s, based on the stores listed on the label and the fitted shape of the shirt.

I’ve looked, and I’ve not found this particular design.  All the designs were named, and there are records which record who the designer was of each.  If anyone can point me in the right direction to find that information for this shirt I’d be most grateful.

Again, I’d like to thank Beth for sending this great shirt my way.  I’ve actually been wearing it, paired with a black and white Marimekko striped knit that I bought last year.

Beth is presently working on a Kickstarter campaign.  She wants to do a series of videos that will highlight the wonderful vintage, and often endangered, places that make America unique.  If you’d like to help, contributions start at $10 and I know that Beth appreciates every dollar that is given to help record this history.


Filed under Collecting, Vintage Clothing

Bonnie Cashin for Russ Taylor Rain Coat

I really did not intend to write anything else about Bonnie Cashin, but when I opened today’s mail, this coat fell out of a package.  It was from April of NeatBikVintage, who really does know how to make someone’s day special.

Bonnie Cashin’s association with Philip Sills ended in 1977, and the next year she started designing for Russel Taylor, a maker of rainwear.  Until she retired in 1985, Cashin made coats under the Weatherwear for Russ Taylor label, most of which were two colors of water-resistant cotton.  The outer shell was often a tan or khaki, and the interior and trim was a bright color like orange, or a cool color like charcoal grey or marine blue.  Or a black coat might be paired with tan trim and lining.

Cashin continued to use the features that she loved so much, and which makes her garments uniquely hers – metal closures, large pockets, simple shapes, supreme comfort.

These snaps at the side might seem to be purely decorative, but this is car coat length, and undoing the snaps would make the coat roomier in the car seat.  They could then be snapped to help protect against the weather.

The bright orange lining adds a spark of warmth to a gloomy, rainy day!

Thanks so much April.  You are a dear!


Filed under Collecting, Designers, Vintage Clothing

Sew It Yourself with Cannon Towels and Sheets

I know that half the crafters on etsy think they invented DIY (do it yourself) but here’s proof that we Seventies hippie girls were the actual inventors of repurposing.

I’m joking, of course.  Remaking textile items has been going on as long as there have been textiles.  What changed were attitudes toward remodeling old textile items.  Whereas our grandmother and mothers during the Great Depression and WWII were well acquainted with making things last, the prosperity of the 1950s made remodeling old clothing unnecessary for many.

But then, in the late Sixties, we discovered the delights of old textiles.  To get in on the action companies that made new textiles pushed using their products as crafting materials.  This poster from Cannon Mills is a great example.


There’s no date on the poster, but all the Simplicity and McCall’s patterns featured are dated 1970.  That seems right to me.  I was in the ninth grade, and I was really into these type of  Peter Max-ish graphics.  

Cannon Mills was located in Kannapolis, NC.  The town was a mill town, but was the largest of its type with around 1600 homes, a hospital and YMCA.  By 1918 the factory had become the largest producer of towels in the world.  Other Cannon factories produced sheets and kitchen linens.  At the height of the company’s prosperity, there were 30,000 employees.  Starting in the 1980s there were a series of company mergers and sell-offs, and on one dark day in 2003, the Kannapolis mill closed, putting 4340 at that mill and 3310 others out of their jobs.  The Cannon name was sold, and products with the name are now produced in Asia.


Filed under Curiosities, North Carolina, Southern Textiles

Celebrating the Bicentennial, a Few Years Early

In 1976 the United States celebrated the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.  Any American who remembers that year will tell you it was a very big deal.  And it wasn’t just that year.  People started getting ready for it in the early 70s.

A nice reader from Canada, Sarah, recently sent this U.S. Bicentennial scarf my way.  What makes it really interesting is that the label has the date on it.

Yes, there was a lot of money to be made on history, and it was best to get a headstart.

For those of you unfamiliar with US history (and I hope I’m referring to people outside of the US!)  I’ll identify some of the images.   In the center of the scarf, starting at the top you see Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the Continental Congress was meeting, and where the signing of the Declaration (and years later, also the US Constitution) took place.

Moving clockwise the big blue blob shows the five members of the committee that was in charge of writing the document.  The tall guy is Thomas Jefferson, who gets most of the credit.  Next is the brave and strong Minuteman, who stood his ground at Lexington:

Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.

And to the left you see Washington Crossing the Delaware, which led to the Continental Army defeating a lot of holiday-happy Hessians at Trenton, New Jersey in December 1776.  Note the flag, which did not exist until well into 1777!

At the left is Paul Revere, who left Boston to warn the countryside that the British were coming.  Revere got lucky.  Two other guys made the trip that night, but few remember their names because they were not chosen by Longfellow to be in his famously inaccurate poem.

Skipping the drum, the next figure is Molly Pitcher, or  Mary Ludwig Hays, who followed her soldier husband into war (a common practice; someone had to do the laundry) .  In 1778 he was hit while firing his cannon, and Molly, who had been delivering pitchers of water to the fighters, took up his place at the weapon.  She was actually granted a pension by the state of Pennsylvania.

I’m not sure that that thing on the left is.  Any ideas?  The bell is the Liberty Bell, with its big crack.  Historians are pretty sure that the bell was not rung on July 4, 1776, but it may have been rung on the 8th when the document was publicly read.  The crack did not appear until some years later.

I came up empty on information about Selann, but if you want to see a thousand photos of Selena Gomez with a scarf around her neck, just google images “Selann scarf.”

The Banash label says the firm was founded in 1888, which does seem to be the case, as it was  located on Washington Street, Boston, as Banash and Kornfeld, Milliners.

My thanks to Sarah, who gave me this opportunity to put my history teacher’s hat back on for a little while.


Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, Novelty Prints

Ad Campaign – Yardley, 1971

Glow back to nature with Earth Child Eyes.

I hope those of you who are within driving distance of Boston have put the latest exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston on your must-do list.  It’s called Hippie Chic, and it is much more than tie dye tee shirts and jeans.

The ad, which is from 1971, is a great example of that the curator of the exhibition calls Fantasy Hippie.  And no, you did not have to be young to get away with it.  I’d like to think there is a little “hippie” in all of us.

Jo at Joyatri has a fantastic review of the exhibition.


Filed under Ad Campaign

1970s StagWhites Tennis Dress by White Stag

A few weeks ago I got an email from Janey at Atomic Redhead, asking if I’d like to have an early 1970s White Stag tennis dress.  That was a simple “yes” as you probably guessed already.  And I was really sold after seeing the embroidered stag on the pocket.

White Stag was one of those big sportswear companies that sort of lost its way in the late 1970s.  The cotton canvas togs of the past didn’t appeal in a polyester world, so they went polyester.   By then the  Hirsch family, founders of the company, had sold it to the giant corporation, Warnaco, which was interested in profits, not the heritage of White Stag.   They continued making ski and other sports clothing, but they were not able to compete in the increasingly more technical business of active sports clothing.  Eventually the company concentrated on making casual separates.  Today the label is owned by Walmart.

In the early to mid 1970s, Americans were really loving their red, white and blue.  Funny how the celebration of an historical event (the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence) helped shaped people’s color choices.  And I have the perfect red and blue tennis panties to go along with this sweet little dress.

Janey, many thanks for such a super gift!


Filed under Collecting, Sportswear, Summer Sports, Vintage Clothing

Ad Campaign – Johnson’s Baby Oil, 1972

When you have the face of a girl and the body of a woman you still want the skin of a baby.

A few days ago I wrote about how teens in the early 1970s were really into little girl prints and ruffles and such, and here is an ad that plays directly to that trend. It is from 1972, and I found it in a copy of Seventeen, which was the major teen fashion magazine of that time.  Ditsy print, ruffled cap sleeves, and curled pigtails:  that was high school in the early 70s.  (But not the exposed midriff, not at school anyway!)


Filed under Ad Campaign