Vintage Miscellany – February 12, 2017

I cannot always sympathize with that demand which we hear so frequently for cheap things. Things may be too cheap. They are too cheap when the man or woman who produces them upon the farm or the man or woman who produces them in the factory does not get out of them living wages with a margin for old age and for a dowry for the incidents that are to follow. I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth or shapes it into a garment will starve in the process.

Those words have so much meaning today, but the truth is they were spoken by President Benjamin Harrison in a speech in August, 1891.  It’s important to keep this in mind when reading about the on-going abuses in the textile and clothing industries.  And thanks to Reba for sending the quote my way.

    •  Only a few months after President Harrison’s speech, the danger of working in a mill was punctuated with an explosion at the Amoskeag Mills in Manchester, NH.
    •  It would have been a highly improbable thought to President Harrison, but the problems he addressed 126 years ago in the United States have merely been transferred to Bangladesh.
    • And also in Myanmar.  (Of course neither country even existed in 1891, but that’s beside the point.)
    • Here’s another article about the importance of home sewing.
    •  According to WWD there is a rising trend in the development of designer archives.
    • There is a new online catalog of original garments and textiles belonging to costume designer and clothing collector John Bright.
    • The Fashion Museum in Bath, UK, has put on display what might be a surviving dress belonging to Queen Charlotte.  For those of us in the parts of the world that don’t know all the kings and queens of England, Charlotte was the wife of George III, and the city of Charlotte, NC was named for her.  It is not certain that the dress was actually hers, though, as it looks to be a bit young in taste for Charlotte.  It also looks to be too small, but this is partly due to the way it was mounted.
    • The  Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elégantes, or SAPE, is alive and well in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa.
    • The Smithsonian website has a really interesting article called “The Invention of Vintage Clothing.”  It really wasn’t the beginning of people wearing old clothes, of course, but it is an early example of what we now recognize as the vintage clothing industry.
    • An heirloom wedding dress was lost from the dry cleaners, social media went to work, and the dress was located.
    • Ashley Biden (yes, the former VP’s daughter) has started a hoodie line called Livelihood.  The hooded sweatshirts are made in the USA, using materials sourced in the USA. Profits from sales will go to fund projects in two communities that suffer from a lack of financial resources (In other words, they are poor).  If you are thinking that the sweatshirts are too expensive,  I want to redirect you to President Harrison’s words at the top of this post.

I  first mentioned the Grab Your Wallet boycott back in November.  It appears that the boycott is having some effect, or maybe it is just that people are too embarrassed to be associated with the brands belonging to the First Family.  At any rate, sales are down, and the boycott has been in the news.  First, department store Nordstrom dropped the Ivanka brand due to poor sales.  Daddy-in-Chief then tweeted, “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. ”  Statistics back up out Nordstrom’s claim that sales were the reason for the drop, not politics.  While sales were up overall at Nordstrom, the Ivanka products sales were down.  Then in the most unbelievable twist, presidential advisor Kellyann Conway urged the viewers of Fox News to buy Ivanka clothing.  Really.   It has since come out that other stores are either dropping, or making less visible, boycotted products.

And so now there are counter-boycotts  from people who claim the pulling of the products is politically motivated against the President.  And on and on…


Filed under Vintage Miscellany

22 responses to “Vintage Miscellany – February 12, 2017

  1. HOW old is le ZOTTE – 12? Apparently she doesn’t know cachet from crochet! Who If is hiring at the Smithsonian these days? No never mind I do not want to know! THANK YOU LIZZIE! Wondered how long it would take these important issues to “bubble” up here! Delicate as ANY subject can be in our current state of affairs. I (personally) think the hoodie is very cleaver and will be buying/wearing! The Ivanka “line” is pedestrian/cheaply made and not “designer” in any way It did not belong merchandised with real designer clothing . Nordstrom has a level to maintain in all areas. Good for them no matter who her Pappy is.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Re: old fur coat chic — anyone else remember “The World of Henry Orient?” Influenced by the madcap New York girls in this movie, my older sister begged for our grandmother’s old nutria coat, which she wore with panache in high school in the late 60s.


    • I had forgotten all about that one. Maybe a viewing should be put on my agenda.


      • Phyl D

        Lizzie (and Stitchingpost), I hope that you do and would love to hear your take on the film after all these years. It’s based on a novel by screenwriter Nunnally Johnson’s daughter, Nora Johnson (they co-wrote the screenplay). According to Wikipedia it was loosely based on Nora’s schoolgirl experiences, “as well as by a real life incident involving singer, Tony Bennett and two teen-aged fans.” Apparently, it was also adapted as a Broadway musical called, “Henry, Sweet Henry” and was performed during the 1967-68 season but was considered too old fashioned in the era of Broadway musicals like “Hair”.

        As for me, it’s a very sweet trip to my early childhood and reminds me so much what NYC and its residents (and fashion) were like to me in the early 1960s in the same way as movies like “If a Man Answers”(1962), “Sunday in New York”(1963), and “Love with the Proper Stranger” (1963). Certainly, there were also grittier movies set in NYC during that time….

        But Henry Orient is a classic of early teens gal pals’ bonding and adventures and makes my own bff and I hoot with laughter at the memories of our own mid-1970s teenage obsessions with British comedians/British rockers and careening around NYC.

        Sorry to be getting so off topic here…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved the Smithsonian piece–very interesting! As was the article about the sapeurs.

    I have so many thoughts about manufacturing and the nature of capitalism . . . I wish the people working in these industries (no matter where they are) were as important to us as the cheap goods they produce. It’s kind of amazing to me that a man who has his products mass produced by cheap overseas labor can become president of a country based partially on a platform of promising to bring jobs to America. Our belief as Americans in the flashy surface of a person who sells us snake oil over one who is perhaps not so smooth but who presents us with solid policies and plans, will never fail to amaze me. (And before someone accuses me of being partisan, I’m *not* just talking about Trump/Republicans here. It’s something of which Democrats are just as guilty.)


  4. Sarah B Guest Perry

    The empire/regency dress could have belonged to Princess Charlotte who was Queen Charlotte’s grand daughter. . . Very chic that dress would have been in 1805 and probably for a much younger lady not for the elderly Queen Charlotte.


  5. How odd that in displaying Charlotte’s dress the museum would opt to alter it (temporarily or otherwise) to fit a “more willowy form.” Wouldn’t we rather see it as it would have looked on the original owner?


  6. It’s interesting that the drop of sales started last year–it would seem that many liberals were willing to buy Trump merchandise more or less until they realized he was running as a Republican. Which is crazy, since anyone who has actually, say, read the papers in the past few years ought to have been fully aware of his character issues.

    And to be fair, same thing with his opponent, and a whole lot of politicians on both sides of the aisle.

    Finally, given President Harrison’s comment and my experience working in a factory, I repeat; good things don’t happen when workers are totally worried about where their next meal is going to come from and such. For that reason, I’m not going to be holding my breath waiting to see good garments coming from places like Bangladesh.


    • I’m not so sure that the drop in sales can be attributed to liberals, as the boycott seems to be supported from conservatives, moderates, and liberals alike – in short, anyone who became increasingly alarmed over the candidate-then-president-elect’s character, motivations, and actions. I do not want this to turn into a political debate, so I’ll only say that I believe the boycott was justified as political protest, whereas before he became the candidate, it was up to the individual where to spend her money.


  7. Well done to Ashley Biden. It’s always great to see someone working to help local communities. I don’t wear hoodies myself, but I hope her project is a success.

    I really don’t understand why the Fashion Museum haven’t put the dress on a dummy of the correct dimensions, though now I think about it, I’ve never noticed much variation in size between the ones they have on display. Next time I go, I’ll pay closer attention!


  8. Phyl D

    I also really appreciated reading the WWD article on the rising trend of current designers developing their own comprehensive archives.


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