We Bring New York to You

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.

Click to enlarge


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.


Filed under Curiosities, Shopping, Viewpoint

10 responses to “We Bring New York to You

  1. Two thoughts: First, the money I have spent traveling and going to the theatre was far better spent than on material possessions. Second, I spent yesterday with a friend celebrating her 92nd birthday; she recalled a traveling salesman with a horse -drawn wagon coming to her farm in Ukiah, California. There were pots and pans and just about anything you might need on the wagon, but what she remembered from her girlhood was the excitement of choosing dresses off the wagon and running into the house to try them on. She and her sisters loved it.


  2. Lynn

    I do agree! The memories are what’s important. However, that said, when I finally got to NYC last year I bought a small cross body bag at Henri Bendel ($100 out the door) and every time I look at it I remember the trip and how much I love that city!


    • There is something to be said for a well-chosen reminder of a trip. You’ll get a lot of mileage out of your bag.

      I love the building that Henri Bendel is in. It’s the old Coty Cosmetics headquarters and was restored in the 1980s, having narrowly dodged the wrecking ball.


  3. When I lived in New York in the 80s, the best part about taking a lunch break was strolling through Bonwits or checking out the small owner/operator boutiques which were more common then. Then I’d pick up some lunch and eat at my desk! One time a colleague and I went to Saks on our break and spotted the n’er-do-well husband of the female host of the TV show we were working on. He was there buying something for a much younger woman, who was modeling it for him (not his daughter!). We cut and run pretty fast!


  4. Nifty brochure! Yes, “Modern Manner” is like my local “House of Charm and Distinction” in having a name that ends up matching tons of unrelated stuff in a Google search.

    I am at a point in my life where I far prefer collecting experiences to things. However, that could be a side effect of having a job where one of the main objects is to search out things (even if I’m not meant to keep them)!


    • As a collector you’d think I would have a “buy-it-all” mind-set, but it has actually helped me narrow my focus and to choose purchases more wisely. That means I buy a lot less, both for my collection and for myself.


  5. having lived in New York and working in the fashion business.for years… i loved my mid-day visits to Bonwit , Bergdorf , (they resulted as social calls as i knew many of the executives there-the best old store-B Altman-was my treasure as the Tea Room was wonderful-the interior main floor with the original old cases and moldings and marble represented what American fashion industry were all about…as for the New York “experience -if you were involved in the industry…there was nothing like “the collections”/Fashion Week-that was New York at it”s BEST!MEMORIES!


  6. I worked at Bonwit for 4 years. I just want a waist that small again? Thank you for sharing as ever !


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