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.