Category Archives: Summer Sports

Au Bon Marché Sports Clothes Catalog – Early 1930s

 

Most of my collecting involves USA made fashion and industry, but sometimes one just has to look at other influences to see the entire picture.  If you are looking at the 1960s fashion scene, you can’t ignore what was happening in London.  And even though sportswear is very often best exemplified as American, you can’t ignore the influence of Jean Patou and Coco Chanel in France in the 1920s and 30s.

Au Bon Marché dates back to the middle of the nineteenth century and was the first grand Parisian department store.  It is still open as Le Bon Marché.

My catalog does not have a date anywhere, but it is from 1931 or 1932. It is full of the delightful things that make one want to pack up the automobile and head for the closest sandy beach.

The front cover folds out and the wares are displayed in a panorama with that sandy shore in the background.  All the photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

The men and boys are still modestly attired in their tank suits (swimming briefs were soon to make their appearance, though).  What is really interesting is item number 14. This is the earliest example I’ve ever seen of a woman’s two piece suit that bares the midriff.

As expected, all the bathing suits are made from wool knit.  What I found to be interesting is that three of the women’s pyjamas  -17,25, and 29 – were also made from wool jersey knit.  Only number 21 was made from the cotton duck cloth one would expect to find here in the States.  The robes or peignoir du bains, were all made from terrycloth.

 

Number 24 seems to be as risque as the two piece.  I’ve love to see how much of the front is exposed.

And how about the rubber swim cap the little girl in number 28 is wearing?  Scottie dogs on a swim cap!  Actually, all the caps are pretty incredible.

 

The man in his blouse et pantalon pour la peche ou le bateau could only be a Frenchman, no?

 

Be sure to notice how one could change the angle of the large umbrella in the center by moving the pole to a different hole.

 

I’ve wanted a portable gramophone ever since I first saw Sabrina and Humphrey Bogart pulled his old one out of the closet to take on his boating date with Audrey Hepburn. And while I’m fantasy shopping,  I’ll also take that picnic basket.

8 Comments

Filed under Proper Clothing, Sportswear, Summer Sports

Schiaparelli for Catalina Swimsuit, 1949, Part II

Click to enlarge

 

In reading about the Schiaparelli for Catalina swim suit I recently bought I discovered that, according to an advertisement, that this suit was the “Official Swim Suit of the Atlantic City Miss America Pageant.” That sent me on an internet search to see if I could actually find photos of the contestants wearing this particular suit.  When I came up  empty I just assumed that it was Catalina suits in general that were the official suit of the pageant.

To my surprise and delight, I got the above photo in my inbox last night.  Julie of Jet Set Sewing saw my Schiaparelli suit and thought it looked familiar.  Then she realized that a photo of the 1948 contestants wearing the suit was hanging in her home.  Julie’s husband found the photo in a shop in Paris.

As you can see, it is the Schiaparelli swim suit, but with the addition of the Catalina flying fish logo.  And even though this was the 1948 Miss America contest, the suit was not made commercially until the next year.  Thus, all my searches for “Miss America Catalina 1949″ brought up a different set of swim suits.

Even though the power of Google is great and it so often leads us to the correct information, it makes me happy that it was a friend who provided the breakthrough on this one.  Thanks, Julie!

Click to enlarge

 

8 Comments

Filed under Curiosities, Rest of the Story, Sportswear, Summer Sports

Schiaparelli for Catalina Swimsuit, 1949

Some people might think that designer collaborations with mass market manufacturers is a new idea, but they actually go back at least to 1916 when Lucile’s – Lady Duff-Gordon – name began appearing the the Sears Roebuck catalog.  By the 1930s California swimsuit maker Catalina was calling on the designers of Hollywood films to do an occasional suit for them.

I haven’t been able to find any concrete information about the Schiaparelli for Catalina collection, except for the fact that it was in 1949.  The suits were widely advertised so there is a good record of the various suits designed by Schiaparelli.  It’s interesting that I’ve not found reference to this collaboration in any of my print sources, including Schiap’s autobiography, Shocking Life, and the catalog that accompanied the 2003 Shocking! exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

In an ad in the Spokane Daily Chronicle, May 13, 1949, this suit was touted as the “Official Swim Suit of the Atlantic City Miss America Pageant.”

The best fitting swim suit in the county… and hailed by the nation’s prize-winning beauties!  It’s “Cable Mio,” designed by the world-famous Schiaparelli exclusively for Catalina!  White wool cables on Celanese and Lastex Knit.  It’s a convertible – can be worn with or without straps.

The design is achieved purely through the cutting of the fabric to form chevrons.  It’s amazing the effect that can be made through a bit of creative planning and stitching!

 

 

I’m sorry about of the quality of this 1949 ad.  It’s a scan of a scan…  I’m still trying to locate my original and I will post a better image when I find it.

Purchased from Ballyhoo Vintage, who always has a great selection of vintage swimwear.

19 Comments

Filed under Designers, Sportswear, Summer Sports

Jantzen Beach Revue ~ 1930





Dear readers, I’m still not able to add new content, so I hope you’ll enjoy this post from five years ago when I had only a few followers.  

Come first to our swimming suit department – then a trip to the crashing waves or placid pool is bound to be successful.  Here assembling your ensemble becomes joy.  We have a complete line of Jantzen sun & swim suit from which to choose the foundation of your costume.  We have the necessary shoes, caps, beach bags, robes, to build a brilliant, stunning outfit.  Won’t you come in and look our things over soon?


This adorable little sales promotion is dated 1930, and it is a great example of the clever way in which Jantzen promoted their products.  Like many of the early swimsuit companies, Jantzen was a knitting mill, and before they started making swimsuits around 1915, they made other woolens such as gloves and sweaters.  But it did not take them long to realize that knit swimsuits were the next best thing, and soon they were concentrating on just swimwear.

The best thing that ever happened to Jantzen was the adoption of the diving girl logo in 1920.  She became an instantly recognized symbol of the company, and though updated, remains on the Jantzen label to this day.

From the 1930s      From the 1950s


Jantzen made sure the diving girl was seen by putting the logo on the outside of the swimsuit, starting in 1923.  They also made promotional giveaways, such as car window decals and hood ornaments.  By 1931, Jantzen was the 7th most recognized trademark in the USA, and it is one of the oldest clothing trademarks in use today.

Notice that in the sales brochure, Jantzen used the words “swimming suit” rather than “bathing suit.”  It is thought that Jantzen was the first company to adopt the term swimming suit, which they first used in 1921.


Comments:

Posted by sues:

:) I am so glad you didn’t resist. I may not have patronized owen moore in 1930, but did shop there in the 1970’s or 1980’s when I was in college. It was a fine store with good quality clothing and accessories. My mom grew up in the Portland, So. Portland area so she would have more info. if you wish. Let me know.

Sunday, August 17th 2008 @ 2:12 PM

Posted by Stacey Brooks Newton:

What a great little advertising piece! I just love the graphics. Very Art Deco.
Went to an estate sale today and thought of you- tons of vintage mod clothing. The girl ahead of me in line bought $500! The dresses were only $10 a piece and the hats were $8. Some real beauties:)
Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 9th 2010 @ 6:52 PM

Posted by Lizzie:

Hi Stacey, I’m glad that vintage clothing reminds you of me! Shop on!

Monday, July 12th 2010 @ 7:14 PM

Posted by Mod Betty / RetroRoadmap.com:

Not sure if you’re a watcher of Mad Men, but in viewing the season premiere tonight they featured Jantzen as one of the clients and I immediately thought of you! Interesting to realize that b/c you know more about their history than I do, you would know before any of us if they decided to use Don Draper’s advertising pitch or not! :-)

Sunday, July 25th 2010 @ 8:38 PM

Posted by Lizzie:

MB, I actually do have a few thoughts on this subject, so stay tuned for a blog post later today.

Monday, July 26th 2010 @ 7:43 AM

Leave a comment

Filed under Ad Campaign, Summer Sports

Circa 1960s Golf Set by Serbin

One of the difficult things about collecting clothing is that often one finds just part of an ensemble.  As a collector of sportswear that often does not matter, but it is always a treat to find an outfit in its entirety.  Having the top or the skirt of this set would be nice, but it is so much better having both, plus the matching belt.

Serbin was founded in 1943 by brothers  Lewis and John Serbin in Cleveland, Ohio.  In 1951 Lewis Serbin moved his family and the family business to Florida.  There the company focused on golf wear and casual dresses.  The Serbins had a daughter, Marianne, and I’m guessing that she is the Mari*Anne on the label.  At some time she married and her name was Marianne Serbin Friedman.

The quilted skirt is covering a pair of shorts made from the same fabric as the top.  It feels to be a cotton/poly blend.  The buttons are a type that was popular in the late 1960s, ball-shaped plastic covered by a matte paint. There is a nylon zipper in the shorts and in the back of the top.

The belt matches the bias trim on the top and the skirt.

I have not firmed up a date, but my best guess is late 1960s.  Besides the buttons, there are other clues.  The A-line shape of the skirt was a popular one at that time, as was the cotton/poly fabric.  I’ve not shown any of the interior details, but the seams are pinked instead of serged.  That tends to mean a manufacture before the mid 1970s when the serger became widely used, but it pays to remember that smaller companies could not always invest in the latest machinery.

Novelty prints are really more associated with the Seventies than they are the Sixties, but when it comes to golf wear, anything goes.  Any other thoughts?

And I’d sure love to hear from the Serbin family.

8 Comments

Filed under Novelty Prints, Proper Clothing, Sportswear, Summer Sports, Vintage Clothing

Souvenir from the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki

The 1940 Olympics were to have been held in Helsinki, but were cancelled due to the war in Europe.  After the war ended, Helsinki was chosen to host the 1952 summer games.  These games are notable because it was the first time that the Soviet Union, The People’s Republic of China, and Israel competed.  The Republic of China (Taiwan) boycotted the games as a result of the Olympic Committee allowing the People’s Republic to compete.  Politics has always been a part of the Olympics, so it seems.

I love how the design of this scarf uses only the Olympic colors of blue, yellow, black, green, and red. Printed on rayon, it shows some of the more colorful and popular Olympic events.  I don’t seek out Olympic artifacts, but I had to have this one because of the representation of women athletes – the diver, the gymnast, and the equestrienne.

If you follow my Instagram account you might have seen this photo last week.  It was taken at the Charlotte Metrolina flea market/antiques show.  There were five or six huge tubs of vintage scarves, all priced at one dollar.  I stood with my friend Marge and we plowed through the piles of scarves, looking for treasure.  I found it in the form of this scarf and one from Liberty of London.  Two dollars very well spent!

I got to talking with the vendor and she told me she bought 20,000 scarves from a vintage seller who was going out of business.  There were so many that she had to take them to a cloth baler just so she could get them home.  She is now selling them at vintage shows like Metrolina.  The best ones start out at $5, and if they don’t sell they go to Metrolina for $1 each.  Even better, every month the scarves are different.  So if you attend Metrolina or Scott’s in Atlanta, look for the textile woman with the tubs of vintage scarf heaven.

 

14 Comments

Filed under Shopping, Summer Sports, Vintage Clothing

Currently Reading: Rose Marie Reid, An Extraordinary Life

After seeing the Emilio Pucci in American exhibition at the Georgia Museum of Art, I was curious about the relationship between Pucci and swimwear maker Rose Marie Reid.   To my surprise I found that a biography of Reid had been published, so I promptly ordered a copy.

Unless the designer is Coco Chanel or maybe Yves Saint Laurent, designer biographies are actually quite rare.  Some are written as exhibition catalogs, such as the wonderful Claire McCardell: Redefining Modernism which was published in 1998 to go with an exhibition of McCardell’s work at the Museum at FIT.  There are quite a few autobiographies from twentieth century designers, some good, some bad.  But a biography of a ready-to-wear designer in a niche market is a rarity.

In reading about the life of a fashion designer – or any important person for that matter – the thing that interests me most is that person’s work and the influences on the work.  There are a few designers, again, Coco Chanel, whose work was so important and so entwined with the time in which she lived that her private life and political and religious views are an important part of the narrative.

Rose Marie Reid, An Extraordinary Life is actually more about Reid the mother, the Mormon, and the woman with whom people had difficult relationships.  Not that the details of her design career are not present, as they are, but the timeline  is fuzzy and confusing.  To a person like me who likes to examine the when of things, it was a bit frustrating.  For instance, the book tells a great story about how Rose Marie first started making bathing suits.  Her new husband, Jack Reid was a swimming instructor who hated his saggy wool trunks.  Rose Marie took a piece of cotton duck to which she added lacing on the sides to make for a good fit.

The design was so successful that Jack took a copy to the local Hudson’s Bay Company store, where the buyer there asked for a women’s design.  From that order the business was formed, and  within a year Rose Marie was overseeing a factory with thirty-two sewing machines.  But the book never says exactly when this all took place.

Of course I realize that history is not always measured in dates.  However, when you are studying design it helps to know when such innovations actually took place.  The best I can figure was sometime between November 1935, when Rose Marie and Jack were married, and 1937 when it is mentioned that Rose Marie’s suits were used in some 1937 games.

Interwoven into the story of the formation of the business are the details of the birth of their children, the disintegration of their marriage, and how Rose Marie prayed through it all.  The theme and the timeline constantly changed and at times I was left shaking my head.

I guess it is important to let you know that one of Rose Marie’s daughters, Carole Reid Burr, was the co-author.  There were endnotes that gave sources, and from that it is easy to see that this book is mainly a compilation of oral family stories.  Numerous interviews were listed as references, and from that I could begin to see why the telling seemed so disjointed.

There were actually sixteen different people interviewed for the book, and along with old letters and newspaper clippings, they seem to be the source for most of the information.  Company records did not seem to be used at all, but that is not surprising since Rose Marie sold the business and franchised her name starting in 1962.  Subsequently there are more details about the many lawsuits in which Rose Marie was involved than there were of the actual business of making swimsuits.

Near the end of the book I finally spotted the name of Emilio Pucci, and began to take notice.  Unfortunately the anecdote was about how he had bought some Rose Marie Reid swimsuits for his staff, and had given one to fashion journalist Ann Scott James.  And that was the end of Emilio, with no mention of the collaboration between him and Reid.

A great deal is made of Reid’s Mormon faith, and I suppose that is understandable considering that the book was published by a Mormon company.  In some ways her faith was important to her design story, as the dictates of modesty by the Mormon Church led her to strongly reject the bikini.   And it was probably this rejection that led Rose Marie to sell the company in 1962.

Besides the fuzzy storytelling, there were quite a few factual mistakes.  The book refers to, but does not explain a relationship with White Stag.  Unfortunately, it is consistently spelled “White Stagg.”  There was also a big discussion of the great success of rival  swimsuit maker Cole of California.  The authors refer to Cole’s Scandal Suit as a bikini, which it was not. (There was a version that resembled two pieces connected by mesh, but even it was not a true bikini.)

It’s such a shame that the story of a company that was the world’s largest producer of women’s swimwear in the late 1950s should be told in such an off-putting way.  Between the preaching of Mormon principles and the accolades of Reid’s mothering ability, I’ve found it hard to go back through and try to establish just the story of the swimsuit company.  Maybe someday I’ll be stranded on a desert island with just this book and a pencil and I can figure it all out.

 

 

8 Comments

Filed under Currently Reading, Designers, Summer Sports