Jantzen Catalogs, 1958

I recently found two Jantzen catalogs for retailers from 1958. Actually, they are from the Canadian division of Jantzen.  By the 1950s Jantzen was an international company that had manufacturing plants all over the world. I don’t know if there were major differences in the products made in the United States and those made in other countries, but my guess is that most of them were similar.

I love how the catalog shows all the garments available in each line. I would be happier if the photos were in color, as the item descriptions for this print are not of much use, reading simply, multicolor.  It’s interesting that the bold black stripe is vertical on the skirt, but horizontal on the pants.

Look carefully at the details. The collar of the black blouse is made from the print fabric. And the legs of the shorts and pedal pushers has the diving girl logo. I’ve never seen the logo on anything other than bathing suits.

Some of the lines had many more pieces. This is the Sailor Stripe Group, which was available in red, blue, brown, and black with white stripes.

Retailers could purchase Jantzen-branded garment forms and other display materials such as the poster you see to the right.

A big trend in late 1950s sportswear was the use of plaid or tartan. The tartans used were Black Stewart, Black Watch, Clooney, and Menzies.  Judging by the existence of so many of these bathing suits today, the plaids must have been very popular.

The plaid trend continued for Fall ’58. Jantzen had a large range of separates made from wool and from Viyella, a combination of wool and cotton. There were seven different tartans in the fall offerings.

The catalog also featured many different wool sweaters. Jantzen started as the Portland Knitting Company, and though the wool bathing suit was no longer the choice of most swimmers, the knitting mills were busy making wool sweaters and dresses.

The fall catalog has a more distinctly Canadian flair, with the Totem pole on the cover, and a curling cardigan for sale inside the catalog. I can help but wonder if the same sweater was offered for sale in the US, but marketed simply as a sports sweater.


Filed under Fashion Magazines, Proper Clothing, Sportswear

17 responses to “Jantzen Catalogs, 1958

  1. TheTactfulTypist

    Can’t say these Jantzen outfits are that attractive. To my eye, the Sailor Stripe group and Cabana Print group don’t look like they are all professional models. Wonder if Jantzen Canada had its own designer, someone who catered particularly to the Scottish-descendent Canadians in their “sturdy shoes and sensible cloth” sort of citizen who represented the typical Canadian long ago. All in all, a bit odd to modern eyes! Thank you for sharing.


    • Christina

      Curious statement “typical Canadian long ago.” You include presumably the many immigrants from not just Scotland and indigenous peoples? Obviously as a Canadian I can’t help but be puzzled at the “sturdy shoes and sensible cloth” comment.


      • Canada’s federal immigration policy was long biased towards British immigrants and thus “typical Canadian long ago” refers to this demographic reality of pre 1950s Canada. Print media, like this catalogue, also reflects this bias. Chinese Canadians and indigenous peoples were also considered second class citizens while Anglo Saxon images dominated media. The cloth quote refers to a well known stereotype of Scottish exports. I understand it may seem odd to modern readers.


        • Christina

          I agree that Canada’s original immigration policies were a direct result of the “Dominion” relationship to Britain. I am not in any way ignoring the history of how indigenous and Chinese peoples were treated however, you will perhaps know that there were waves of immigration from not just the “Empire”but from Scandinavia, Europe and Eastern Europe and Russia. Thank you for clarifying your original comment. I would probably agree that advertising was dominated by Anglo Saxon images and I would also say that the industry was also dominated by the portrayal of gender in stereotypical ways.


  2. Jacq Staubs

    As i remember ( i was about 8 yrs. old)in the Fall of 58) and on throughout my teens – Jantzen was of superior quality. The wool was the best. FYI – that was the “modern eye”! A huge leap of value and good taste compared to bell bottoms and polyester silk dresses/blouses,/ junk of the modern age – The VIYELLA remained the best for decades. This company provided sportswear to the entire civilized world. The ski wear was iconic.They maintained / maintained a lost / forgotten standard called integrity / quality control. Thank you Lizzie – as you- know these are treasures of the industry.


  3. Mimilulu

    I loved Jantzen clothing as a pre-teen and your teen in the late 50’s. I remember a pair of lightweight pinwale corduroy light blue short shorts I wore almost daily; and if I’m remembering correctly, they sported the jantzen swimmer along the hem.


  4. That fabric in the first two photos is certainly distinctive!


  5. More for the archive! I certainly wore a lot of Jantzen clothes in my youth.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nann

    The quartet wearing horizontal stripes is, well, memorable.


  7. I, too, remember Jantzen as the quality sportswear of the late 1950s. (Koret was a local brand that I wore, but it lacked the more expensive fabrics Jantzen used.)
    Would it be possible to make a visual dictionary of the various trouser types using your catalog collection? I remember “pedal pushers” and “Capri pants,” but “ankle boners” may be a Canadian term — or is it? I had ankle-length, rather fitted “Capri” pants (as I called them) that had a V-notch in the outside seam. I also had some mid-calf trousers (always with a side or back zipper!) that fitted closely, like the image at the top of this post — were they “pedal-pushers?” As I remember, “Clam-diggers” were also mid-calf, but loose fitting, often with a cuff…. I bet there are lots of regional differences in this terminology. I’m remembering clothes from the summers of 1956 to 1958, I think. What would your catalogs tell us?


  8. Christina

    “…english tartan gingham” That’s some hybrid 🙂


  9. Laurel Halleran

    Hello! My Grandpa is the 1st man on the left in the group photo and his brother is the second. Do you have any more photos of him you’d be willing to share? He passed away young and my grandma is looking for his old modelling photos as he never let her see them because he was embarrassed.


  10. Brittany Benfied

    I found you because I found a sweater similar to the bottom photo at a thrift store today. Mine says made in the USA

    Liked by 1 person

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