Tag Archives: Vested Gentress

Interview With Naomi Jackson of Vested Gentress

Courtesy and copyright of Club Vintage Fashions

About a month ago I got an email from John Fibbi in Florida.  Seems as if he was sitting with Naomi Jackson, who had been along with her husband Bud, the owner of Vested Gentress.  They were searching the internet looking for references to her company and came across an old post here at The Vintage Traveler.  He got in touch, and she agreed to answer a few questions about the company.

This was very exciting to me because despite the fact that vintage Vested Gentress clothing is pretty common and some pieces are highly collectible, there just wasn’t much about the company to be found.   Now, thanks to John and Naomi, and Naomi’s son, Dan Jackson, I can tell the story behind this whimsical label.

Copyright and courtesy of GailDavid’s Memory Lane

1.  How did Vested Gentry get started?

Fritz, or “Bud”,  Jackson Jr.  Naomi’s husband,  was good at doodling, and was in advertising for a while and good at casual art.  Around 1960 he had two comics or cartoons published; one in Look and a short time later one in Playboy.  

The first products Bud created were men’s woolen vests that were also screen printed with cocktail-themed designs and sports cars, thus the name Vested Gentry.  Ads were placed in The New Yorker magazine and orders were taken.  Bud actually hand screened the first articles at home in the bedroom on a flush door. Orders from individuals and Ambercrombie & Fitch were filled as they were received.  They also made some men’s hand screened shirts.

The label for Vested Gentry was a stoic guy, dressed in black, wearing a top hat.

2.  Is there a special significance to the name Vested Gentress?

That was the name the Bud created when he began the woman’s line in 1961 and began phasing out the men’s wear.

Courtesy and copyright of pinky-a-gogo

3.  How was the logo of the equestrienne chosen?

This was a creation of Bud’s, who felt that the logo fit the name.

Courtesy and copyright of Metro Retro Vintage

4.  What can you tell me about the fabric designs?

In the beginning all of the designs were the personal work of Bud.   He really most enjoyed drawing the animals.  Most of the floral prints were purchased as Bud did not enjoy drawing the florals.

Courtesy and copyright of Better Dresses Vintage

   Did you employ an artist? 

In the later days an artist was hired, mostly for the florals.

Courtesy and copyright of Metro Retro Vintage

5.  Was the screen printing done in your own factory?

Yes it was done in the factory, in a large room with many screeners. We could handle a ten color process.  At the factory there were approximately thirty-five employees: screeners, designers and sample makers.

Courtesy and copyright of Northstar Vintage

What about the sewing?

The sewing was contracted out.  In the beginning it was tough, as we did not have large orders.   Articles were screened and cut in the factory, and samples were sewn there. The cut pieces were then sent out for sewing.

Courtesy and copyright of Second Looks

6.  I’ve noticed that many of the designs incorporate a big, friendly dog.  Was he based on an actual dog?  Did he have a name?

The dog logo was based completely on a family pet and member of the family, a 200 pound Newfoundland hound named Briney Bear.  He was the chairman of the board and had his own stationery.  The hang tag, also designed by Bud was based on a drawing of Briney Bear.  The hang tag logo can also be found on Bud’s headstone.

Courtesy and copyright of Hatfeathers Vintage

7.  Was Vested Gentress marketed as an active sports line?  So much of it seems to be appropriate for golf and tennis.

There was a pro line, that was sold exclusively in country club pro shops.  This was late in the life of the line.

Vested Gentress had four of their own retail stores, Rehoboth, Deleware, Stone Harbor, New Jersey,  and Jupiter and Clearwater, Florida.  Florida was the largest sales area.

Courtesy and copyright of Northstar Vintage

8.  Which of the print motifs were the most popular?

Heads and Tails which is the horse with the bows, and one with a parrot.  The parrot was also based on an actual creature.  He was positioned outside a barber shop in Florida, and when they went by him the parrot would bother Briney Bear.

Copyright and courtesy of joulesvintage

9.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ad for Vested Gentress in vintage magazines.  Did the company advertise on a national level?

Yes, mostly through The New Yorker.

Courtesy and copyright of Hatfeathers Vintage

10.  How and when did the business close?

Naomi  remembers that Lilly Pulitzer folded (1984)  prior to her husband’s passing in 1985 and Vested Gentress closed sometime after he died.  Dan said that they kept the business going for a while after his father died, but that Vested Gentress was Bud’s passion, and it was too hard to continue without his guiding force.

Naomi stated that they were surprised at Lilly Pulitzer’s closing as they had three items in Town & Country that year.

Courtesy and copyright of pinky-a-gogo

Vested Gentress was a true family company, with Bud and Naomi running the company and the children working there as well.  Dan said that his first job was sweeping the factory floor on Saturdays.  He was able to work his way up.

Many thanks to John Fibbi, who found me and who transcribed Naomi’s story.  And thanks to Naomi and Dan for answering all my questions.  Also thanks to members of the Vintage Fashion Guild for providing so many great illustrations of Bud’s work.

Courtesy and copyright of Viva Vintage Clothing

A few words about the label:

Vested Gentress was started in 1961, and in 1966 the  equestrienne trademark was registered.  The version on the trademark site shows the woman without a riding crop in her hand, and I’ve seen labels that do not have the crop.  I assume thay are older than the much more commonly found woman with a crop.  The Jacksons had no recollection of the change in the label.  If you find a label with no crop and no R (registered) symbol, I think you can safely assume it is from before 1966.

Courtesy and copyright of Viva Vintage Clothing

Courtesy and copyright of Club Vintage Fashions

Courtesy and copyright of Northstar Vintage

To see even more, here is an old blog post at the Vintage Fashion Guild blog.

Edited to correct the name of The New Yorker

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Filed under Designers, First Person Stories, Vintage Clothing

The Vested Gentress Horse Print, Take II

This one is the real deal, and it’s a bit unusual.  Most Vested Gentress pieces are screen printed on a white cotton/poly poplin, though you also see the same fabric in pink, yellow, green and aqua.  I got these photos from Sue Langley last week after she saw my previous post about the Vested Gentress Gingham Horse print.  Instead of the usual white or pastel, this is printed on a gauzy cotton gingham.

Sue also had a story to tell :

When I was a teenager, an elderly school principal friend of my mom’s wore one – and that I’d lusted after it ever since. It seems to me that her’s was a bit more late 50s though, with a dirndl skirt perhaps. I do vividly recall the bows on the horses’ fannies and my mixture of shock and admiration that this lady would wear a dress like that.

How I wish I’d taken a photo of the school principal in hers (it would have been 1958-60 I think); it seems to me that the horses’ manes and tails were fine string, and the tails did have bows.

Now that’s interesting, because Vested Gentress opened in 1961.  Could it be that the idea was not original to them??  The plot thickens!  Any way, enjoy Sue’s cute new dress.

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Filed under Novelty Prints, Vintage Clothing

Giving Credit Where it Is Due

If you know Vested Gentress, them you have undoubtedly seen this, one of the most fanciful of the VG designs.  I’ve seen it called the Gingham Horse, because of the attached bows, and I’ve also seen it in a shift dress and with the bows printed on rather than attached.  I’ve seen it without the field of flowers.  VG got a lot of mileage out of this one.

The vintage skirt pictured is courtesy of Joules.

Now it appears that someone else is getting mileage out of it.  Last week I spotted this in an old farmer’s market in Wilmington, NC that has been converted to retail use.

When I first saw it I was tickled to think I’d found such a peachy vintage dress, but before I even touched it, I knew the truth – this was a reproduction.  The fabric, a slick synthetic, was a dead give-away.  And sure enough, it sported a new label – one of those mid-priced department store teen lines, I think.

I was in shock, but had the sense to look at the tags.  No mention whatsoever of this being a copy of a vintage piece.  Not an adaption, a copy.  And it is possible this has been out a while.  I’ll admit I’m rarely ever in a shopping mall or department store.

I know, I’ve preached this one before, and yes, I do realize you readers are the choir!  But honestly, how in the earth can this be justified?   Is everything that doesn’t have the words COPYRIGHT stamped on it subject to being copied?

This did stir me to do a little on-line investigating about Vested Gentress.  For a company that has been closed only about 20 years, there is surprisingly little information about it.  I did find a blog post from last September where a niece of the company owner posted.  I’d love to hear from anyone who has more to say about Vested Grentress and the company.

Now for all I know, the makers bought the rights to the design, but if that is the case, why not play up the vintage connection?

Comments:

Posted by Joules:

I have one thing to say, and that is hrumpppph! I could go on… 

Sunday, May 10th 2009 @ 11:24 AM

Posted by Lucitebox:

Lizzie–I saw this repro in a boutique here in the late 90s. It was pricey, around $160, if I recall correctly. And you’re right–that fabric…ick. Apparently, you’re supposed to want a casual sundress to cling to your body because I think it had some lycra in it. 

I don’t know much about VG, but as you know, I LOVE the stuff! As to this horsey print, I have it on one of my all time favorite things to collect–those cheesy 70s embroidered sweaters by Cyn-Les and Shirlee. Sorry to switch gears, but do you know anything about those sweaters? (I’ll never forget receiving one from you!)
Anyway, one of those sweater manufacturers copied this horse print. It’s great and I wonder if it was licensed to them in the 70s. I’ll have to dig to see who made the sweater, but it’s clearly of that genre I collect and not a reproduction.

Holly

Tuesday, May 12th 2009 @ 9:20 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

Holly, thanks for posting that. I thought that the dress might not be very current, considering the venue. A friend emailed another version of the VG horse dress, which I’ll post next week. This one is made from pink and white gingham, something I’d never seen! 

I really don’t know much about cyn-les and the other 70s embroidered sweaters, and I had completely forgotten about that horse version!! Maybe I ought to do some searching around to learn more.

Saturday, May 16th 2009 @ 10:25 AM


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