Bradley High Quality Knit Garments – 1908

Bradley Knitting Company is one of those companies that no longer exists, but still its wares are well-known to vintage sellers and collectors due to the consistent release of consumer catalogs and their large volume of production. The company was renamed as Bradley in 1905, and so this 1908 is from the very early years of the company. At that date they were already producing the garments which made Bradley famous – sweaters and bathing suits.

You might have noticed the use of the word “coat” to describe what we today in the United States would call a sweater or cardigan. Bradley continued to use “knit coats” until the late 1920s when the catalogs switched to the more modern “sweater”.

I’m not familiar with the term, “pony jacket.” Could it have been appropriate for riding?

Even though sweaters were considered to be sportswear, the catalog stylist could not resist adding a bit of fashion with the huge hats.

I’ve seen this style of knit vest advertised as a golf vest. It would have been an excellent choice to wear for the sport because of the increased mobility of the arms which it would allow.

Bradley also made knits for men and for children. The cardigan above is very similar to what sweater companies made all through the 1920s, but it is a bit shorter in the body.

Heavy wool knits were very casual attire, and the association with sports was strong. I really love this baseball coat. I do wonder if the monogram was machine embroidered or if it was made separately and then attached.

In spite of the large, impractical hat (or is it a bow?), this little girl is dressed to play with her knit coat, short skirt, and softball.

Thanks to this catalog I now know that Bradley first made bathing suits in 1907.  Be sure to read the copy, as it is so unintentionally hilarious!

A note about men’s bathing suit styles: in 1908 men’s suits were still very modest, with the long top having a high neck and small armholes. The trunks are to the knees. By the 1920s the armholes and neck in men’s bathing suits were scooped, and the trunks were mid thigh.

11 Comments

Filed under Advertisements, Collecting, Sportswear

11 responses to “Bradley High Quality Knit Garments – 1908

  1. Joanne Babic

    One of the first Bradley products in 1905 was a bathing suit. They made bathing suits and sweaters for the entire history of the company. I love your catalog. It’s much older than any of the ones I’ve found. I have a few illustrations of bathing suits that are older, but none of the coats or jackets.

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  2. Well, once it was wet I don’t think that suit would help any cold blooded person keep warm!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jacq Staubs

    The mens baseball sweaters are just great. Too bad they did not show the double breasted versions. You are the only person i know who knows the correct definition of “stylist”.!!! t is like using the word / term accessory. Also the abuse of creative licence by adding inappropriate accessories like the hats. Mainly the reason i created my own job and oversaw fashion advertising .The “creative licence” was inappropriate it did not reflect the merchandise profile. The reshoots were too expensive ! Thank you for this interesting early fashion advertising example.

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  4. Peter Capolino

    Bradley outfitted many MLB teams with sweaters. I can send images of labels & ads!

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    • Joanne Babic

      If anyone has a photo of Babe Ruth in his custom mad Bradley team sweater/jacket, I would love to see it! email babic_joanne@yahoo.com

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      • Peter Capolino

        I have many images of Ruth in the sweaters.
        I will check labeling?

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      • Peter Capolino

        I have many images of Ruth in the sweaters.
        I will check labeling?

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        • jacq staubs

          The models must be members of the family – strong similarities ?

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          • Joanne Babic

            It is entirely possible that the models are all from the same family. Bradley used workers to model the clothes for their catalogs. Th only model that I had information on is Mabel J. Gross. She started working for the company in the early 1920’s and I have several photos of her that were loaned to me by her grandson for a book I wrote about the Bradley Knitting Company.

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        • Joanne Babic

          That would be wonderful! I’ve been looking for one for a long time. I even called the Baseball Hall of Fame hoping they had the actual sweater, but they didn’t even know about it so it’s been lost to time.

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  5. I would love to see photos! You can send them to thevintagetraveler@gmail.com. Thanks!

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