For years Paris was the undisputed center of fashion, but during the two world wars, New York clothing makers capitalized on the absence of European imports. After WWII ended, New York was regarded as the center of American fashion and a leader in fashion worldwide.
I recently found this little brochure from Modern Manner Clothes, located on Fifth Avenue in New York City. I haven’t found out anything about the company (it does not help that the company’s name contains words that show up in all kinds of searches.), but it appears that it was a sales venture that was similar to Avon. There is a place on the folder for the name of the representative, and the sales pitch mentions shopping at home.
It’s the easiest way in the world to shop – right in your home at your leisure, at your convenience – direct from Fifth Ave., New York, to you.
No shopping hurry – no parking worry, but in the privacy of your home when you are all rested and at ease, you make your selection of New York’s beautiful styles.
There’s no date on the folder, but it is late 1940s. The styles are similar to what was offered in catalogs like Sears and Montgomery Ward. Prices range from $4.98 to $16.98, which would be $52.78 to $180.26 in today’s dollar, based on inflation from 1947. So, the dresses were not cheap, but neither were they expensive.
Somehow, though, I feel like Modern Manner Clothes was missing the point. Even though claiming a New York or a Paris connection was a huge selling point, there really is no substitute for the experience of shopping in New York. And it really is about the experience, rather than the purchases one makes. I’ve strolled Fifth Avenue, stopped in at Saks, Bergdorf’s, and Tiffany’s, and never spent a dime. It was more about seeing than buying.
A recent study at Cornell University indicates that humans get more pleasure from spending their money on experiences than they do from spending it on material objects. If that is the case, and I do agree with the findings, then one would be better off spending an hour or two window shopping and then experiencing high tea or drinks at a fancy hotel. Skip the latest “It Bag” and take in a couple of plays or musical events. Forego the souvenirs and instead go to the top of the Empire State Building at dusk. Make some memories.