Category Archives: Ad Campaign

Ad Campaign – R.H. Macy & Co., 1924

Women’s Frocks in the Autumn Mode

After writing about the R.H.Macy store in New York, I wanted to show an ad from its early days.  I chose 1924 because so many of us have been noting the 1924 fashions on the latest season of Downton Abbey.

To me the most amazing thing about this ad is the prices.  Don’t be fooled by what seems to be so inexpensive.  As I’ve written before, women in the past expected to pay a higher percentage of their income on a new dress than we do today.  When inflation is taken into consideration, the $44.75 frock becomes $611.60.  And while it is easy to spend $600 on a dress today, most women in the American middle class wouldn’t think of such an extravagance.   And then, as now, Macy’s catered to the middle class.

Note that design A is “a skillfully designed frock for the larger woman.”

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Ad Campaign – I. Miller Shoes, 1930s

I. Miller gives you summer shoes in color taken from the new flower prints.

On to the American Summer scene of glamorous clothes walk  I. Miller shoes in vibrant flower colors.  Nature’s hues selected with the I. Miller genius for color…for costume relationship. 1937

Israel Miller was the son of a Polish (some sources say Prussian) shoemaker who immigrated to the USA in the 1890s.  He obtained work as a cobbler with John Azzimonti,  an Italian immigrant who was making shoes for the theater.  According to an issue of the Boot and Shoe Recorder, actress Sarah Bernhardt once ordered 244 pairs of boots at one time.  When Azzimonti closed the shoe making business in 1909, his customers put in orders for up to thirty pairs.

They need not have worried about obtaining quality shoes, as Azzimonti’s former employee, Israel Miller was already making shoes and would establish I. Miller by 1911.  His operation was moved to a building near the corner of Broadway and 46th Street, which is in the theater district.  He was soon leasing the two brownstone buildings on the corner, and business was so good that in 1926 he bought both buildings and began renovations that would unify them into a single unit.

The resulting building is seen above,  but in 1926 the statues in the niches were not yet in place.  The next year it was announced that statues of four show women would be chosen to represent the arts of drama, comedy, opera, and movies.  The public was even invited to vote for their favorites, the winners being Ethel Barrymore, Marilyn Miller, Rosa Ponselle, and Mary Pickford.  The statues were made by A. Stirling Calder, the father of Alexander Calder of mobile fame.

Unfortunately Israel Miller did not live to see the unveiling of the completed building.  He died in Paris of a heart attack several months before the October, 1929 unveiling.

 

The Broadway side of the building was quite different from the elegant 46th Street facade.  There were pre-existing billboard leases on that side, and so even in the early days of the store, much of the Broadway facade was given over to advertising.  Today, the main entrance is on Broadway, as that is where most of the traffic is, but when this was a store store to the stars, they entered through 46th Street.

I. Miller shoes closed sometime in the 1970s and the building was bought in 1978 by Riese Restaurants, who ran a TGIFriday restaurant there for several decades.  By the late 1990s Riese was saying the store front would be restored, and though they applied for and were granted landmark status, nothing ever came of it.  Eventually the TGIFriday restaurant was closed, and the building taken over by the Express clothing company.

When I visited New York City in August, 2013, I went by to see the building and was dismayed to see it scaffolded over. In New York that could mean anything from restoration to a complete redoing of the building.  To their great credit, as Express readied the interior of the building  for retail, the exterior was renovated to its former glory.

The four statues had to be removed and restored as they were in terrible condition.  Chunks of marble on the building had to be repaired, the bronze was polished, and the entire facade was given a good cleaning.  Today it is one of the best reminders of what shopping in New York City was like in the early and mid 20th century.

When I first read of the shoe store several years ago it struck me as odd that there would be such an elegant store in a part of the city that was not (at that time, anyway) a shopping district.  A little reading about the subject informed me that this was only one of I. Miller’s stores.  The main store was located on Fifth Avenue, and there were two other New York City branches.  Nationwide there were 228 branch stores and several factories.

The mode for black is charmingly met in.. Monograin silk by I. Miller

As all femininity fares forth in Black, Monograin becomes the overwhelming fashion favorite for wear with the new autumn hats, gloves and handbags of this subtly-woven silk.  1930

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Ad Campaign – Ship ‘n Shore, 1957

 

for the feel of luxury… whisper-soft acrilan knit sweater blouses

One of my all-time favorite ad campaigns was run by blouse maker Ship ‘n Shore in 1957.   Even though by the late 1950s photography was replacing fashion illustration, they went with an illustrator who captured the lines and details of the blouses beautifully.

Even though the ads are lovely, the campaign didn’t last long.  By the end of the year Ship ‘n Shore was back to using photographs to advertise their blouses.

You can see two more of the ads in a post from last year.

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Ad Campaign – Tussy, 1960

Your Guardian Angel or Tussy Deodorant

It’s wonderful the way Tussy Cream Deodorant protects you and your skin.

Tussy’s gentle cosmetic base doesn’t irritate normal skin, while the specially balanced formula checks perspiration, stops odor… without danger to fabrics, too.

Guard your charms with Tussy Cream Deodorant every day.  It never lets you down!

I’ve got to find one of those guardian angels.  It looks much easier than having to apply deodorant myself.  I wonder if it will do make-up and nails as well.

It is interesting that the ad mentions that Tussy Cream will not damage fabrics.  Even today it’s hard to find a good product that does not leave a residue on fabrics.

 

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Ad Campaign – Jantzen All-Sports Jackets, 1947

a’hunting you can go… and fishing you can go and that’s not all!  These new Jantzen jackets are as versatile as all outdoors.  They’re for golfing. holidaying, going to college or relaxing, for everything that’s fun to do…

You really can’t ask more of a jacket than that.

Today it is always news when a fashion company moves into a new line, say when a maker of menswear develops a line for women.  If you look back over the history of clothing companies you can see that this is how the industry has operated over the years.  Expansion often meant veering from the product for which the company was known.  In this case Jantzen, which was a long-time maker of swimsuits, was dipping their toes in the sportswear waters.  They had developed a line called “Sun Clothes” which was mainly tee shirts and shorts, but they were also expanding into winter sports.

I have no idea how successful this idea was, but with the exception of 1940s figural sweaters, I don’t see a lot of winter time Jantzen that is older than the 1960s.

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Ad Campaign – Bobbie Brooks, 1957

Luscious lambswool intarsia sweaters by Bobbie Brooks and a dyed-to-match skirt

A magnificent look… yours in either beige heather or grey heather.

What I found interesting about this ad from 1957 was the use of the word “intarsia.”  I strongly suspect that if I were to stand on the corner of a busy street and ask random strangers what an intarsia sweater is that very few of them would know, the exceptions being knitters and textile fanatics.  But there it was in 1957 being used as a selling point in an ad as if anyone reading it would know the term.

I was too young in 1957 to have any idea about this, but what about my older readers?  Did intarsia sweaters mean anything to you?

For the non-knitters reading, intarsia is a technique of using different blocks of color like you see in all three sweaters above. For each block the other color is not carried across the back of the knitting like is commonly seen in patterned sweaters.

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Veteran’s Day, 1919

Repost from 11/11/11

This ad is from 1919, a year in which Americans were seeing the return of many injured servicemen from WWI.  America had a bit of a romanticized view of the war, being so far removed from the horrors that Europe was experiencing, and even after the war ended, and many men came home with their rose-colored glasses removed, the public was pretty much unaware of the horrendous experience of it all.

This ad came form a 1919 Harper’s Bazar.  Many of the stories in the magazine, and in others from 1919, refer to returning soldiers,  and to the war, but there really is no mention of just how bad an experience it had been.  In the stories, there seems to be no “shell shock,”  no poison gas, no death.

I guess it would have been worth it had one of the names for WWI been true – “The War to End All Wars.”  But unfortunately, they were wrong in 1919.

 

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