This great jacket ticked off several boxes on my things to look for when adding to my collection list. Vintage White Stag – check. Tryolean inspired garment – check. Great color combination – check. Interesting historical detail – check.
It’s not often that I get such a solid confirmation of the date of a garment, but here it is. And even more interesting is the ability to put this jacket in a specific time and place. So many times the garments I find have been entirely divorced from their histories. And while I don’t know the name of the woman who wore the jacket, I do know about its place attachment.
Wheaton College is in Illinois, and it has a long history of supporting social reform. It was a stop on the Underground Railroad, and enrolled both black students and women in a time when such was rare. Wheaton was established in a time when many schools of higher learning were founded by religious organizations, and Wheaton retains its Christian focus to this day.
I’ve written before about the interest in Germanic clothing styles in the years leading up to World War II. I even have another piece from White Stag that shows this trend.
White Stag has its beginnings in a canvas tent company owned by Max and Leopold Hirsch and partner Harry Weis. When Max’s son Harold Hirsch returned home from Dartmouth College, he brought back his love of skiing, which was just catching on as a recreational sport. The company began producing ski clothing in 1929, and in 1931 the line was named White Stag, the English translation of Weis Hirsch .
The Germanic roots of this jacket are obvious. One could wear it to Oktoberfest today and fit right in.
There are several questions I’d like to ask about this piece. Did White Stag make the jackets specifically for Wheaton college, or was the discovery of the jacket by someone at the college a happy accident. Are there others, or is this just one girl’s project? Could these have been for a club?
Here’s one more little special detail. The pockets are lined in red. The label is from the United Garment Workers, which was the union for people making ready made tailored products like coats and suits. I’ve got to wonder if that number can be traced in any way.