Tag Archives: labels

Vintage Label Quilt, Part II

Five years ago I wrote about a quilt that was made of clothing labels.  It had taken me ten years to track it down, but I finally was put in touch with the owner, Chris Kluge.  Chris’s great grandfather started a label weaving company,  Artistic Weaving, which was at one time the world’s largest manufacturers of woven labels.  Using the word “artistic” as part of the company’s name was totally appropriate, as the labels are little works of art.  You can read the story of Artistic Weaving in my post from five years ago.

Several days ago I got an email from Seref Ozen, a dealer of antique textiles who lives in Istanbul, Turkey.  He was in possession of a similar quilt, and had found my old blog post in looking for information.  Instead of clothing labels, this one was made of woven Christmas greetings.  Many were signed by Albert Kluge, or stated that they were from the Artistic Weaving Company.

I really could not tell Seref anything else about his quilt, but I was intrigued.  How did such an obviously American item end up in his possession in Turkey?  What was the meaning of the woven greetings?

My first step was to contact Chris Kluge.  He confirmed what I suspected, that the company made their own woven Christmas greetings.  His great uncle Albert Kluge sent them to his customers and friends, and after Chris’s father inherited the business he continued the tradition until the business was sold in the late 1990s.

Chris also said that it was possible that these were designed by a Mr. Smith, who was a label artist at Artistic.  He “may well have created the colored sketch which was then ‘translated’ into jacquard punch cards for weaving the pictures.”

So how did this quilt end up in Istanbul?  Believe it or not, it came from Afghanistan. From Seref: “The piece was found by an Afghan picker in Afghanistan and an Uzbek picker” brought it to his attention.  He bought it.

There is really no way to know with certainty how this quilt ended up in Afghanistan, but Seref has a theory.  “I have no idea but I think, people are sending lots of aid boxes to Afghanistan because every now and then I find things that don’t make sense in Afghanistan.  I even got a YoYo quilt years ago.”

My guess is that these woven greetings were made in the 1920s through the 1940s.  The amount of detail is simply amazing.  If these don’t make you long for the days of wonderful woven labels, nothing will.

The entire quilt is quite large.

Gearing up for WWII?

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Filed under Curiosities

“They Took Off Like Zingo”

Photo copyright Lilly Pulitzer, Howell Conant

I’m not sure what “zingo” is, but that is how Lilly Pulitzer described the wild success of her tropical print dresses.  As you have probably already heard, Pulitzer died yesterday at the age of 81.

In 1957, Lilly Pulitzer was a rich but bored housewife.  A breakdown of sorts led her to New York, fleeing her life in Palm Beach, Florida.  Her doctor suggested she find something to do, and that she did.  She returned to Florida, and a couple of years later she and a friend started a fruit juice stand.

She and her dressmaker designed the original little cotton print shift dress to hide the stains the women acquired working in the fruit juice stand. Before long, people were asking about the dress, so Pulitzer began selling the dresses at the stand.  At first there were two designs – the basic sleeveless  shift, and the shift with short sleeves.

Pulitzer got a tremendous boost when first lady Jackie Kennedy was pictured in Life magazine wearing a Lilly Pulitzer dress.  By 1961 she had a lot more orders for her “Lilly” dresses than for juice, so she closed the stand and opened Lilly Pulitzer, Inc.  Within a few years the company was selling  15 million dollars in dresses a year.

Her dresses were brightly colored and often had whimsical prints that usually incorporated her name, Lilly, somewhere in the design.  She also began using a special hem lace, with the name Lilly  spelled out in it.  Her dresses spread far beyond Palm Beach, and proliferated nationally throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Above is an example of a mid 1960s dress.  The early to mid 1960s dresses are 100% cotton and usually have metal zippers.  Key West Handprinting was used to produce  the fabrics.

The label above is from the 1960s dress.  The early dresses often had the second label that read 100% cotton, and gave the care instructions.    Sometime in the mid to late 1960s Lilly Pulitzer started using a 65% Poly/35% cotton blend.  These later 1960s dresses usually have nylon zippers. Also, in the late 1960s, Lilly Pulitzer started making garments besides dresses, such as shorts, casual tops and slacks.

Lilly Pulitzer did a little girl’s line, named for her daughter, Minnie, and a junior line named for daughter, Liza (seen with her in the 1963 photo above).  Accessories, such as hats made to match the garments were added.  A men’s line was established  in the early 1970s.  The company also began to use other fabrics, such as printed cotton  jersey and polyester knits.

The dress above is from the late 1960s.  It is still made from 100% cotton, but has a nylon zipper.  Note the addition of “Lilly Pulitzer Inc.” on the label.  A little later, the copyright symbol © was added, probably in the early 1970s.

These 1970s shorts are made from a  65% Poly/35% cotton blend fabric.

As a general rule, the earlier Lilly labels have orange print, and the ones after the mid 70s have  green print .  You can see examples at the Vintage Fashion Guild Label Resource.

Even a mention in the 1980 Official Preppy Handbook by Lisa Birnbach could not save the company.  Changing fashion styles forced Lilly Pulitzer, Inc. into bankruptcy in 1984.   The business closed, Lilly retired, and unfortunately, the company records and archive were thrown out.  In 1993 the label was revived under new owners, and it quickly regained the success of the label’s early years.  Lilly became a sometime consultant to the company.   Today the emphasis is still on the original bright colors and whimsical prints introduced by Ms. Pulitzer in 1959.

Label introduced in 1993.

It’s really quite amazing to think about just how influential Lilly Pulitzer’s simple tropical prints have been and how they continue to be copied today.  Maybe it is just the idea of buying into the tropical or coastal “lifestyle”.   Today the brand seems to say “Summertime Preppy” even more than it did when it first hit the fashion scene in the early 1960s.  Lilly herself lived that lifestyle – attended private school with Jackie Bouvier Kennedy, married a Pulitzer Publishing heir, and moved to south Florida.  And somewhere along the line she created a line of clothes that seemed to epitomize the lifestyle of the rich and prep school educated.

This post is adapted from a June, 2012 post.

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Filed under Designers

When 140 Characters Are Not Enough

Yesterday I decided to spend a little time shopping on etsy.  Whenever these shopping urges hit, I force myself to be systematic and structured, to do specific searches for some of the many sportswear labels that interest me.  One such label is White Stag, so I typed it in the search box and was rewarded with 152 items in the vintage clothing category that were tagged “White Stag.”

While looking through the thumbnail photos, I spotted several items of interest, and so I clicked through to them.  After browsing through the items, I was struck by how many of the listings did not show a shot of the label.  In most cases it really did not matter because I could tell if the item matched the seller’s estimate of the age of it.  But there were several cases that I honestly could not tell if the item was from the 2000s or the 1970s or the 1950s.   There have been so many vintage styles copied over the past 15 years or so that it takes more than a few photos to get a feel for the item.  And all it would take is one glimpse of the label and the mystery would be solved.

I’ve voiced this complaint on twitter several times, and I always get a few people agreeing, but occasionally someone will point out that with only 5 photos, a seller has to make each one count.  Agreed, but in my searching yesterday, most sellers show three shots of the front of the garment, and two of the back.  Of course the model changes her stance in each shot…

If you are an online seller, and you always show the label, thank you.  If you don’t, then I hope you will consider fitting in label shots on all your listings.  It makes shopping easier, and easier shopping leads to more buying.

To further flog this horse, I’ll use White Stag as an example.  The top label is from 1955. White Stag used a form of this label, and a similar red on white one,  in the 1940s and 50s.

This label is from the early 1960s.

This label is from the late 1960s and into 1970s, and is probably the most commonly found vintage White Stag label.  Note the change in the font.

Regardless of what numerous etsy and ebay sellers would want you to think, this is not a vintage label.  It is the label used by Walmart in their White Stag line.

 

 

16 Comments

Filed under Shopping, Viewpoint, Vintage Clothing

Label Lovliness

If you are in the Los Angeles area, you might have already seen this feature in the March 4 edition of the LA Times Magazine.

I’m happy to say that I had a little to do with this, as Cary Georges, an editor at the magazine contacted me about using some images from the VFG Label Resource for an upcoming 50 Things feature.  Several VFG members contributed labels, which I passed along to the magazine, and I also put Georges in contact with labelmeister Chris Kluge. 

All told, it made for a stunning display – no historic information – just art.   It  amazes me that people can do a feature with only images.  I always have to stick in my own 2 cents (or more often, 3 cents) worth.  For a closer look at the labels, the feature is online.

I contributed the two I’ve circled.  The “BANG!” label is from a wonderful mod dress, made in Italy.

8 Comments

Filed under Vintage Clothing

The Artistic Label

You might remember the quilt made entirely of clothing labels that I wrote about back in February.  A few week ago Kate Mathews sent me the link to some more labels that the quilt owner, Chris Kluge, posted on his facebook page.  These labels were all woven by his family’s business, German Artisic Woven Labels which became became Artistic Woven Labels during WWI.  Visit the link above to read about the company.
These labels came from sample books found in the old mill’s water-powered turbine room, and they date from the early 1900s through about the 1940s.  These were woven on very narrow looms (and that is why the edges of them are smooth, compared to labels today which are woven on wide looms and then cut and fused… and scratchy!)
So marvel at the detailing, and think of a time when these little works of art graced the interior of one’s coat.
Many thanks to Chris for sharing his story and photos.    All images copyright WOODTHRUSH, LLC 2010

Continue reading

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Filed under Curiosities

Vintage Clothing Labels

It was great seeing all the response to Chris Kluge’s label quilt.  Be sure to read the comments for more insights to Mrs. Hobson’s patchwork ability.

As I said in that post, I’ve been interested in labels since VFG started the Label Resource.  As coordinator of that project, I’ve seen a lot of labels.  Sometimes I even get them in the mail.  I’ve had people email and say they want to contribute labels, and then I get the actual labels in the mail!  I always take people up on their offers to send labels to me because I want to get the labels off the market, so to speak.  Believe it or not, there is a market for vintage clothing labels, especially those by famous designers.

I’m not going to write an article on the misuse of vintage labels, because my pal Jody at Couture Allure has already done a fantastic job of laying out all the facts of label switching.  Her article is a must read for anyone who buys designer vintage.  And if that doesn’t scare you into doing your vintage homework, read more words to the wise from Hollis at Past Perfect Vintage.  She has written a three-part series on the pitfalls of buying vintage clothing.  Read and learn!

The labels in the photo are a small part of my collection of them.  I didn’t set out to collect labels, but I’ve decided to accumulate them to keep them out of the hands of someone who might be tempted to do a little sneaky resewing.  All the labels above came out of hopelessly damaged garments, some of them (like the Geoffrey Beene) cut up so badly that it was just the label attached to some scraps of cloth.  The Hadley Cashmere was a series of moth holes joined by a few strands of cashmere yarn!

So, the question is, should I make my own label quilt?  Truth is, it would take many many years to assemble enough labels for a quilt.  But I’m open to other suggestions.  Several years ago I saw a handbag made from labels, and that might be a fun project.  If you have any other ideas, please share!

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Filed under Vintage Clothing, Vintage Sewing

Vintage Labels Quilt – Worth the Wait!

I’ve been waiting almost 10 years to see the quilt above.  Seriously.

When I was still teaching I had a kid whose mother worked at Lark Books in Asheville.  It was the early days of the VFG Label Resource, and I was telling her about that project when she mentioned a quilt made of vintage labels that was hanging in the lobby or stairwell of the Lark offices.  But she seemed to think that the quilt had been removed.  You know how it is when you see something everyday; after a while you stop noticing it.

She could see that I was excited to see the quilt, so she promised to track it down and then I could visit her at her office so I could see it.  Well, the quilt really was gone, and she was never able to locate it.

Last month while visiting Kate Mathews of Folkwear Patterns, I happened to mention the quilt, as she used to be co-owner of Lark.  She remembered it, but did not know what had happened to it.  It belonged to a guy named Chris Kluge, whose family owned the label company that made the labels.  She promised to track it down.

As it turned out, the quilt had been returned to Chris. A few weeks later she sent Chris’s email, and the rest is history.  Here, in Chris’s own charming words, is the story behind this remarkable quilt:

“It was created in the latter 1970’s by my best friend’s mother…. full name Laura Margaret Sherrill Hobson (aka “Midge” and “Midget”, for her diminuitive size ) Midge Hobson was born near Asheville, NC and  moved to New York City in the 40’s as an Arthur Murrey Dance Instructor… where she attempted to teach a semi-clumsy returning Navy veteran to dance…. He was hopeless as a dancer, and hopelessly in love (as was she) so they married… She spent most of the rest of her life in New Jersey, raising two boys with her husband, Russ Hobson Jr. (an inventor and successful entrepreneur. .a story unto himself for certain..) They retired back to NC (near Old Fort) in the early 70’s.

Midge Hobson was aware of my family’s history in the label business*, and, after showing her some old sample books (from 20’s and 30’s), she expressed an interest in using some for a quilt she was currently making. I happily gave her the books to peruse… and you see the result!! I was very surprised to receive the quilt after Mrs. Hobson’s death in the 80’s.

* The Label Business….. My paternal great grandfather was one of five brothers who, with their father, ran a narrow fabrics weaving mill in Krefeld, Germany (probably began in 1860’s or so)  They wove jacquard design trim for corset borders, and other apparel and design-related markets…. This business was called Gebruder Kluge (“Kluge Brothers”)

Around the  mid 1880s, Herr Papa Kluge sent four of his sons to establish new markets for their German manufactured goods… one to Sweden, one to Italy, one to United States, and one to Russia (and one Kluge stayed at home, wee-wee- etc… My great grandfather, Adolf Kluge, established German Artistic Weaving Company in New York City (somewhere around 32nd St.), at first only importing narrow fabrics woven in Germany.. .But, when tarrifs were put on same, he bought looms (again, in a loft around 32nd Street), to manufacture within the US. Family lore has a sheriff padlocking that location at one time(s) or another.

Adolf Kluge then bought riverside property in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey (from a black powder contractor to Dupont Powder Works… Smith Powder Works) With a water-driven turbine, he proceeded to build and expand on that site, eventually claiming to be “The World’s Largest Manufactuer of Woven Labels” (I have an old salescard that says so…. so it MUST be true, eh?)

Eventually over hundred looms were weaving narrow fabrics, coinciding with the  booming “ready-to-wear” garment needs of new immigrants, and his business thrived. (Side note… One of Adolf’s Brothers, Emile, came over to help with the business…. Emile thought he could do better, so he split off from his Brother Adolf, and established his OWN US-based label company… “E.H.Kluge” of course, the brothers never spoke again…. (Emile’s company was big success, until crash in 1929 wiped him out.)

With the outbreak of German hostilities in Europe, German-Artistic Company thought it prudent to become Artistic Weaving Company. ( which it remained until the 1970’s.)   Adolf Kluge died in 1920, leaving his label business to his sons, Albert and Willard. Albert bought his brother (my paternal grandfather) out in the early 30’s.   Albert Kluge built a label mill in Pittsboro, North Carolina (“Chatham Mills”) and it was still cranking out labels into the mid 1990’s. When Albert died in 1957, my Father, Willard Kluge Jr, inherited the company.  At that time the basic shuttle-style jacquard looms in use were not too different from looms of 100 years ago.

Loom technology changed dramatically.  Highspeed broadlooms, running polyester warps and figure yarns, were converted to narrow-fabric capability by having electrically-heated wires cut and fuse.  What had been used to weave broad goods could now crank out labels… AND, cause millions of people, myself among them, to cut out those nasty fused-edge neck labels

Which is a handy segueway back to those older labels Mrs. Hobson used for her magnificent quilt…. Being of such older vintage, they are mostly rayon and cotton (some might even be silk, which is what was used before Dupont invented Rayon.. in 20’s.)  The German Artistic Weaving company that was begun over 100 years ago in a loft in NYC ended in mid 1990s… sold to another North Carolina- based label company, which went bankrupt within two years.

The evolution and brief history of woven labels in the US is typical of many industries….. from small, family-owned endeavors, building customers, expanding into new markets, consolidating with similar businesses…. and, as all labor-intensive business have, fleeing to cheaper labor markets….. first labels….. then shirts……. then computers… then… finance? Stay tuned!!

Interesting how Mrs. Hobson’s handsewn quilt has outlasted the businesses that inspired her marvelous efforts!”

What a story!  My thanks to Chris for taking the time to write this all out and for sending photos.  If you want to see what Chris is up to, visit his website, Chriskluge.com.  He is a marionette maker, though I don’t see any on his site that look like him.  As I hear it he bears a striking resemblence to George Clooney!

Tommorow:  thoughts about vintage labels.

Comments:

Posted by pinky-a-gogo:

What a great story and wonderful quilt!

Tuesday, February 9th 2010 @ 4:46 PM

Posted by Jonathan:

Wonderful story and what a wonderful piece of domestic industrial folk art!

Tuesday, February 9th 2010 @ 4:49 PM

Posted by The Red Velvet Shoe:

I don’t have time to read the whole post right now, but will be back to do so. What an amazing quilt, it should be in the Smithsonian!

Tuesday, February 9th 2010 @ 5:00 PM

Posted by Couture Allure:

I am in love. This quilt is incredibly beautiful! Thank you so much for this great story, Lizzie.

Tuesday, February 9th 2010 @ 5:02 PM

Posted by Tina:

This is a beautiful quilt, I’ve never seen anything else like it!

Tuesday, February 9th 2010 @ 5:08 PM

Posted by Brenda:

Worth the wait is right Lizzie. This is such an inspiring story and the quilt is incredible. Bravo!

Tuesday, February 9th 2010 @ 5:17 PM

Posted by The Vintage Vortex:

How incredibly fabulous! Great reading and a great story!! I called my husband over to see as he loves quilts and he commented on how difficult if must have been to line up so many different size labels to make a perfect rectangle!! Amazing!

Tuesday, February 9th 2010 @ 5:55 PM

Posted by The Cosmic Cowgirl:

Ah! The elusive label quilt! So glad you discovered and shared its wonderful story!

Tuesday, February 9th 2010 @ 7:20 PM

Posted by Sarah:

What a remarkable quilt, and how wonderful that you managed to track it down! I agree with The Red Shoes that it deserves to be in a museum.

Chris Kluge supplies a fascinating story about the history and production of labels, and it was a pleasure to read.

Tuesday, February 9th 2010 @ 11:05 PM

Posted by Cathy Hammond:

What a fantastic piece of history! Thank you for sharing this great American story and the fabulous one-of-a-kind quilt.

Wednesday, February 10th 2010 @ 4:16 AM

Posted by Carrie:

What an amazing quilt–both a work of art and a piece of history! And what a wonderful story behind it (and the tale-spinner is rumored to look like George Cloooney? 😛 )

Thanks for sharing the results of your sleuthing efforts with us, Lizzie!

Wednesday, February 10th 2010 @ 4:33 AM

Posted by Mod Betty / Retro Roadmap:

How wonderful! I could sit and look at those labels for days. So glad you shared the history and story with us all!

Wednesday, February 10th 2010 @ 6:29 AM

Posted by Sue Barton:

Lizzie, this was such a fascinating read and what a treat to see pics of this quilt. Great story! Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

🙂 Sue

Wednesday, February 10th 2010 @ 7:31 AM

Posted by Susie Hurst:

What a fascinating quilt and story! Thank you so much for sharing this. I would love to see this quilt in person!:)

Wednesday, February 10th 2010 @ 9:45 AM

Posted by Melody Fortier/Tangerine Boutique:

That quilt is a historical treasure!! Thank you so much for sharing. I hope it does make it into a museum.

Wednesday, February 10th 2010 @ 10:02 AM

Posted by chris kluge:

I am very thankful for Lizzie tracking this fabulous creation of Mrs. Hobson’s down, and for allowing me to relate a little of the history behind the labels Mrs. Hobson so beautifully put to use!

( ,,and thx to Miss Lizzie for going along with the bit about George Clooney… 🙂 But all other parts of the story are TRUE… xx chris k

Wednesday, February 10th 2010 @ 10:35 AM

Posted by Jeff Haubrich:

Thanks for sharing, not only great photos, but a history of Artistic Weaving and some family history.

Wednesday, February 10th 2010 @ 12:46 PM

Posted by Woody Pumphrey:

Mrs.”H” was also a great jig-saw puzzle solver! The First thing she would do is hide the box, so she wouldn’t look at the picture. She never did the edge first, saying “that’s cheating!”. I have seen her do puzzles upside DOWN…it’s no wonder(to me) this Quilt is so Beautiful because she certainly was! 🙂

Wednesday, February 10th 2010 @ 1:26 PM

Posted by chris kluge:

Woody P… .you are RIGHT!! I forgot all about her puzzle capabilities… and, considering the 2 genius rascals she and Mr. H brought into the world….. well, she was definitely quite a human!

Wednesday, February 10th 2010 @ 8:48 PM

Posted by Lizzie:

I’ve really enjoyed everyone’s comments. Woddy, thanks for sharing Mrs. H’s extraordinary puzzle solving skills. It explains how she was able to sort out all those labels!

And a big thanks to Kate Mathews for putting this into motion!

Thursday, February 11th 2010 @ 8:32 AM

Posted by fleur anglaise:

Wow – what a tactile piece of history! I want one!:)

Friday, February 19th 2010 @ 12:54 PM

Posted by Laura Stokes:

nice site

Friday, February 19th 2010 @ 9:27 PM

Posted by lady kingdom:

Very nice blog here …

Great post from you .
thanks

Monday, July 26th 2010 @ 2:19 AM

Posted by sara loughton:

That is the coolest quilt i’ve seen in awhile.

Wednesday, September 29th 2010 @ 11:28 AM

15 Comments

Filed under Curiosities, Vintage Sewing