If you have been reading The Vintage Traveler for a while you already know that Bradley is one of my favorite vintage brands. Bradley Knitting Company was located in Delavan, Wisconsin, and was established in 1904. They made all kinds of woolen knit goods, including swimming suits, sweaters, and other sports apparel. This company was very important to the small town of Delavan as it was their chief employer, with 1200 persons working there when the company was at its peak. In fact, they often had to advertise in larger cities in order to keep enough workers.
When I first spotted this set on etsy, I was confused because at the time it was made (late 1920s or very early 30s) Bradley was making only knits, and from the photos in the listing, these pieces looked to be woven. I was pleasantly surprised to get the set and to find they were actually knit.
Yes, this is a knit, though it is hard to tell from this photo. Another interesting thing about the top is the use of the zipper. Even if this dates from 1930 the use of the zipper in a garment is a very early example.
These little black arrow accents were not knit in; they are appliqued on top of the garment. You see this feature quite a bit in late 1920s bathing suits in a nod to the geometric designs of Sonia Delaunay, perhaps.
The straight bodice of the top is another hint to the date of the set. After 1930s jackets became shorter, often ending at the waist. This piece still has the long straight look of the late 1920s.
And what is an old wool garment without a few moth nibbles. I’m showing you this because here you can actually tell that this garment is knit, not woven. I also want to draw attention to the overlock stitching where the collar is attached to the bodice. There are some vintage sellers who insist that you don’t see overlock before the 1970s, but that is simply not true. It was commonly used on early sweaters and other knits, having been invented in the 1880s.
A bit more applique is found in the bands at the sleeve cuffs. And what about that tassel!