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The Fedora Lounge Guide to Union Labels

BlackHeron

New in Town
Messages
1
Funny! I have a wool Fedora form NY Hat & Cap Co. with a Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union. Thank you for this spot, for now I know it was made in the late 70's to early 80's
 

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VintageEveryday

A-List Customer
Messages
383
Location
Woodside, NY
I've got a united garment workers tag on a pair of denim jeans...not sure of the age. It's definitely 1930s-1990s, has red numbers (02519). Picture won't upload yet
 

Milpro

New in Town
Messages
22
Location
Ohio
Where's the United Hatters Caps & Millinery union label? I have a Stephen L. Stetson that has one. I'm trying to get an exact date for it. I'm incorporating the union label to help me.
I now have a Dobb's Royal coachman with the same Union label. Trying to find information myself.
 

CGA

New in Town
Messages
8
Union labels can be useful in dating vintage clothing made in the United States and in Canada. However, there are some important things to keep in mind when using them as a resource. Not all clothing makers were unionized, and not all shops which were necessarily used union tags in their products, so you will not always find one. As with any other method of dating vintage clothing, there are always quirks and exceptions which cause issues when trying to assign a precise date to a garment. There is always overlap when new batches of tags come into a tailor's. When the new 1949 ACWA union tags came into a shop, the tailor would use the rest of the roll of 1939 tags up before transitioning to the new tags. As such, sometimes earlier tags show up in later garments. There will also, almost assuredly be a number of variant tags which did not make it into this guide. Keeping this in mind, never use a union tag as the sole means of assessing the age of a garment; always use it in combination with other dating methods.

The Tailor's National Progressive Union
1885-1889

Though founded after the Journeymen Tailor's Union of America, the Tailor's National Progressive Union was the first clothing union in the United States to issue a label on union made clothes in 1887. The Progressive union had jurisdiction over unionized tailors of ready-made clothing. The union had a socialist lean and was short lived, existing only from 1885-1889. (source)


The Journeymen Tailor's Union of America

1865-1876, 1883-1920s

The Journeymen Tailor's Union of America originally organized in 1865, but dissolved in 1876 after massive embezzlement of funds by one of its officers. It re-organized in 1883, and had jurisdiction over unionized custom tailors. Its refusal to accept "less skilled" otr and mtm tailors led to the formation of the UGWA. They first issued a union label in 1891. I can not find reference to the union past c.1929. Modern history books point to 1914 as the demise of the union, but period documents and garments show it was around until at least the 1920s.

Custom Tailor's Union Label.
View attachment 1217
Custom Tailor's Union Label variant.
View attachment 1218
1920s variant
View attachment 1224

(source)
Example from 1900

The United Garment Workers of America
1891-1994

The United Garment Workers of America was formed in 1891 by ready-made tailors who the Custom Tailor's Union had refused admission. They issued a union label shortly after their organization. In 1896, the UGWA started placing their union label on factory-made made to measure clothes, which the Custom Tailor's Union felt overstepped the jurisdiction of the UGWA union, creating friction between the rival unions. They resolved that the UGWA would have jurisdiction over all non-custom union made garments. In 1994, the UGWA merged into the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).

The United Garment Workers of America tag remained virtually unchanged from its first usage in 1891 until its last in 1994. The most notable change occurred c.1930, when the manufacturer number relocated from the side to the center of the label. The first two label variants date from the first decade of the 20th century. The second two are representative of what was used 1930s-1990s.

Tag from 1903. Note presence of signature of Henry White, General Secretary.
View attachment 1219

Tag from 1908. Slight difference in illustration of hands. In this example, the signature is omitted, though this is likely just for the ad in which this image originally appeared.
View attachment 1220

Depending on what was the tag was on, there could be different background text. Pictured is “clothing- clothing”. Other examples of background text would be “Duck Goods” or “Special Order”.
View attachment 1221
Generic variant omitting the background text, used for advertising purposes.
View attachment 1222

The Textile Workers Union of America
1901-1939
Merged with the Textile Workers Organizing Committee (1937-1939) to form the United Textile Workers Union of America
I am new here and very much enjoyed this thread and posts.
I have a United States Coast Guard Academy uniform dress jacket that has the similar makers mark label like the last example. It also has G 6 marked on bottom left side. The center vertical (between hand shake) has red numbers 4593661. It is a Jacob Reed's Sons jacket. Could anyone id the date manufacturer from this information. Thanks
 

CGA

New in Town
Messages
8
I am not sure if Dinerman is still available here? Can anyone give a date this jacket was made?
 

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