Tag Archives: Jantzen

Givenchy for Jantzen Antibes Bathing Suit

The more one collects, the more you realize that it really is all about the good stuff. If you read any book or article targeted toward the beginning collector you will read that you should, “Buy the best you can afford.” It’s true.

I do a lot of thinking about the pieces that really need to be represented in my collection. One such item is a glamorous black 1950s bathing suit. I actually had one – a Jantzen – but it just did not give off the sophisticated vibe I was after. I sold it.

So I was back at square one, with no black bathing suit of my dreams. Luckily, I have friends.

I have written about Style and Salvage before. Mel and Jeff are two of the most knowledgeable vintage sellers I know, and to have them in my own backyard is an incredible thing. They have sourcing secrets that go way beyond the local resources, and I’m always amazed at the incredible things they turn up.

On a visit a while back I knew I’d found my black 1950s bathing suit.

From 1956 through 1959 Jantzen made a line of bathing suits, some with matching cover-ups and skirts. French couturier Hubert de Givenchy designed suits for the line in 1957 and 1958.

For Jantzen and only for Jantzen, Givenchy, the free-spirited ringleader of creative art in the Paris couture, has designed a marvelous collection of avant-garde swim suits. This is one, “Antibes”, in fabulous new elasticized crepe, in inspirational modern art colors. $25

Twenty-five dollars was pretty pricey for a bathing suit in 1957. The inflation calculator puts it at almost $230 in 2019 dollars. That could be why these are so rarely seen today.

Sometimes good design means knowing when and when not to embellish.  Givenchy knew this suit needed only a small bow to anchor the straps.

Thanks to Style and Salvage for the use of their photos, and especially for the exceptionally fine suit!

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Filed under Collecting, Designers, Sportswear, Summer Sports

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.

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Filed under Fashion Magazines, Proper Clothing, Sportswear

1957 Jantzen Junior Dealer’s Catalog

A lot can be learned from old catalogs.  This one from Jantzen was not made for the consumer, but for the merchants that would be buying Jantzen products for their stores.  This particular catalog is for junior clothes, and I’m sure there were others for clothing for men, misses, and children.

Of course there were plenty of swimsuits.  After all, Jantzen was primarily a swimsuit company.  But what is interesting is how much of the catalog is devoted to other sportswear.

But before I get to the sportswear, I want to focus in one the swimsuit on the left.  This model was the “Holland Check” Sheath, with retailed for $10.95.  (Add in inflation, and this suit would be $93.50.  Jantzen was not cheap.)  In the late 1950s, and into the early 60s, plaids and checks were very popular.  This catalog features several plaid designs.

You can’t really tell what the plaid looks like here, but I do admire the way the designer used the print as part of the design.

Here you see the Holland check as trim on shorts and in a sleeveless top.

Even more Holland check in Bermudas, and as the trim on a blouse…

and on pedal pushers.

And best of all, here is the same check in a fabulous reversible cap.  The check was available in white with red, blue, brown, or black.  I’d never heard of “Holland Check” but it looks an awful lot like Prince of Wales plaid.

A store would pick which pieces to sell and it’s very unlikely that any one store opted to sell the entire line.  I can remember shopping in department stores in the late 1960s and early 70s, and it was common for stores to be selling the same brands, but to be offering entirely different pieces.

As a collector, it is nice seeing all the options available in the same print.  It’s hard enough finding great old sportswear garments, but how challenging it would be to try and assemble all the pieces of a particular line.  Unless one gets lucky, that is, the way I did with a matching line from Tabak of California.  

There was a real “Italian Look” evident in many of the garments.  The influence of Emilio Pucci, perhaps?

There were also references to the nautical influence, as in “Tars ‘n’ Stripes”.

And here’s even a nod to the ever popular middy blouse, though for some reason they chose to spell it “midi”.

Because these were junior swimsuits, targeted toward a teen consumer, Jantzen offered “Accents”, a bra pad.  The description of most of the swimsuits in this catalog mention that there is “space for ‘Accents” bust pads” in the suit.  I’ve got to wonder if there was an actual place in which to insert these pads.  Anybody know?

 

 

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Filed under Collecting, Sportswear

1950s Jantzen Casual Top

I love finding pieces from the great 20th century sportswear companies.  By the late 1940s many companies that had been only making swimwear or active sportswear turned to making sports separates that were suited for the increasingly casual lifestyle of Westerners.  Jantzen was one such company.

What is designed to look like two pieces is actually one.  The cotton corduroy collar and upper bodice is attached to the cotton jersey shirt, using a color scheme that was a popular one in the 1950s.

The label was used in the late 1940s and into the 50s.  There were quite a few variations of this label with that fluid frame around the brand name.  By the late 50s the frame was gone, and increasingly the name “Jantzen” was woven in gold instead of red.

This seems to a a pretty straight-forward piece, but I thought it odd that the label appears to be in the front of the shirt.  Could it be that the collar closes in the back?

I turned it around to see if the collar actually had a rolled front, but it just looked odd.  So I held the top by the shoulder seams to see how the shoulder and the collar were positioned on both sides.  In most garments the back neck edge is smaller than the front.  In this case, it put the opening in the front.

I think my original mistake was thinking that the collar would have been worn open.  After playing with it for a while it became clear that this was meant to be a closed collar top.  Still, it is a bit unusual to see a label in the front of a garment.

I have not been able to find advertising for this top, but my guess is that it dates between 1952 and 1955.  Dolman sleeves, which were cut in one piece with the bodice, were very popular during those years.

Of course the real fun will come when I find the matching pants or skirt.  I’m sure that matching pieces were made because that was how these pieces were marketed – as mix and match separates.

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Filed under Sportswear, Vintage Clothing

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

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Filed under Advertisements, Summer Sports

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 – Jantzen Kharafleece, 1951

That wonderful top-to-toe look…

it’s Kharafleece

sweaters

skirts

and match-mate

sox

all together now-

heavenly sweaters and skirts

in Jantzen-exclusive

Kharafleece: purest virgin

worsted wool, nylon and

miracle vicara… cashmere soft…

washable… practically

wrinkleproof.  And stunning sox for an echo!

The question in my mind was what the heck is vicara?  I had seen the fiber listed on sweaters from the 1950s, but I’d never really given it a lot of thought.  As it turns out, vicara is a protein fiber that is extracted from corn.  Those twentieth century chemists were nothing if not creative.

As were the ad copy writers.  See how they tied together vicara and cashmere?  It’s enough to make you think there was a vicara goat.

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