American Sportswear – B H Wragge

There’s good reason why the American sportswear industry  had such a wonderful reputation – they produced well made, beautifully designed clothes that were easy to wear.   Most vintage lovers know all about the sportwear asthetic of McCardell and Cashin, but there are many more names that have pretty much been forgotten.  One of these is  B.H. Wragge.

From my entry on the Vintage Fashion Guild Label Resource:

BH Wragge was established in 1920 by Bernard H. Wragge. It was acquired by Sydney Wragge in 1931, as a maker of both men’s shirts and women’s blouses. By the late 1930s, Wragge had developed the idea of separates, and the company produced coordinated blouses, skirts, pants, coats and other pieces that were meant to mix and match.

From the late 1930s and into the 1950s, each BH Wragge collection was based on a theme, with the fabrics often designed by famous artists. These clothes were geared toward a young customer, and BH Wragge clothes were very popular with the college set. Toward the end of the 1940s, the company changed its image somewhat, and began doing more dresses and suits. By the 1960s, they were producing evening dresses. The company closed in 1971.

I’ve been wanting to add a great Wragge piece to my collection for a long time, so when I ran across this two piece dress recently I was pretty well thrilled.  No matter that it has some serious color issues which you probably cannot see in my photos, I loved this and thought it was such a great example of the type of thing Wragge produced.

The lavender top is linen, and the skirt and blue trim is silk.  I’m betting that one could have also bought a matching pair of slacks.  Unfortunately, my photos really do not show just how cute this set is.  Not everything from the 70s was kooky!  And I know it is from 1970, because starting sometime in the 60s, Wragge put the date on their labels.  Wasn’t that considerate of them?!

I put in the close-up because I wanted you to see the handwork.  This was sportswear, and the lining was put in by hand!  The photo shows the bottom of the zipper, and the hook that holds it secure.

This kind of quality was not cheap, even by 1970s standards.  Today, it is almost unheard of except at the highest price points.


UPDATE: I have heard from a niece of Sydney Wragge’s who had a great bit of information to share about the name. Sydney Wragge was born Sydney Goldstein, but after he bought the business from BH Wragge in 1931, he changed his last name to Wragge to match that of the company.  Thanks to Leslie for filling in this bit of fashion history!


Posted by Maggie:

I LOVE Wragge, that is such a cute outfit! Don’t you wish dates were required in labels?

Thursday, October 8th 2009 @ 7:25 AM

Posted by Gail Jackson:

I was a young buyer and bought the B.H.Wragge collection in the 60’s. It was beautiful and enduring. Mixing of fabrics, silks and wool and Silks and Linen, Have you come accrossed any tea-timer dresses. They were a signature.
Are there any archives of sketches of any of the collections?
thank you.

Monday, November 16th 2009 @ 5:05 PM


1 Comment

Filed under Designers, Sportswear, Vintage Clothing

One response to “American Sportswear – B H Wragge

  1. Elaine A Palmer

    I have in my collection a Wagge with dated label 1963 – wonderful woven wool fabric – needs to find a new home – any interest?

    E. C. Palmer


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.