Vintage Suit Brands

Discussion in 'Suits' started by wclary, Jul 3, 2018.

  1. wclary

    wclary New in Town

    Messages:
    21
    Could we put together a list of suit brands that were known for their quality around 1880s-1940s? Thanks!
     
  2. MondoFW

    MondoFW Practically Family

    Messages:
    846
    Montgomery Ward, Parkway Clothes, Hyde Park Clothes, Kingsridge, JC Penney, Brooks Brothers all produced great suits. Most of these, I think, were considered middle-of-the-road quality names at the time.
     
  3. Mathematicus

    Mathematicus A-List Customer

    Messages:
    377
    Location:
    Coventry, UK
    Not a great expert of American brands, but you can count these as high quality brands:
    - Hart, Schaffner and Marx
    - Southwick (traditional American suits, probably the signature brand)
    - Oxxford
    - Utah Woolen Mills
    - Style Mart

    All of these are still active (except possibly the last two) and produce great garments. However, we might continue listing brands over brands and call them all "high quality" as, paradoxically, in that era bad quality clothes came from cheap bespoke tailors.

    Going to a department store and buying a suit meant, back them, roughly the same as havin a suit made to measure nowadays in a retail store. Either you had a ready made model altered or you had the same model purposely made in your size and with your specifications. This explains why it the cut of vintage garments varies a lot withing the same brand: they were adapted to the client.
    The thing of going in a shop, buying a suit and expect to wear it straight away is a modern thing.
     
  4. MondoFW

    MondoFW Practically Family

    Messages:
    846
    Is that so?

    I recall seeing several movies from as early as the 40's where, if I may be honest, the tailoring was pretty horrendous. Some of the actors' suits looked pretty RTW and wide cut, and not in a flattering, "bold" way. I expect this more from period photographs of people who may have not had the wealth to invest in the most flattering clothes, not movies depicting the well-to-do! I recall reading that RTW suits were on the rise during this decade.
     
  5. Mathematicus

    Mathematicus A-List Customer

    Messages:
    377
    Location:
    Coventry, UK
    I know it may seem counter-intuitive from a modern viewpoint, since in our era bespoke is associated with luxury and quality. However, in the past the norm was to have a tailor cut your clothes; the quality of the work reflected the price you were willing to pay or, ultimately, the level of quality you could afford.

    Yes, RTW industry was on the rise during the 30s and 40s, but the appeal of a RTW company was initially only amongst urban population. Think about a modest family in a small city which has several services but no department store in an easily accessible surrounding area. They most likely had their suits made by the local tailor, who often was somebody without real education on tailoring clothes, having learned the basics on dated, surpassed models of decades before. The point is that he made cheap clothes; this means rough, thick wool, imprecise details, careless finishing. Fit might have been okay but forget hourglass shapes and beautiful drape: most of the garments went out of those shops shaped like sacks.

    In many small towns the dominating fashion style was dictated by the local tailor, at least until TV made its appearance in most homes. It wasn't until then that people became to use large department stores to buy tailoring - and still with the methodology described above, more of a MTM house than like a modern boutique.
     
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  6. Mathematicus

    Mathematicus A-List Customer

    Messages:
    377
    Location:
    Coventry, UK
    I see that I missed the point of your post.

    Yes, it was so. Luckily, it is still so in some places around the world, which however are known for their high prices.

    The problem of fit you see has to do with several things: first of all the fashion of the period, which dictated a rather drapey and oversized look; secondly, the inexperience of the salesmen, paired with the matter of fact that they are there to sell you, hence maximise their profit against the quaity of what you get.

    As regarding costumes for a movie, believe me costume dealers have made so many horrible things that I'm not surprised. Costume industry in theatre and cinema was a thing, normal clothing was another. Hopefully this distinction holds nowadays as well.
     
    MondoFW likes this.
  7. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,050
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Don't assume that just any Hollywood film had great custom made suits. Many movie were budget affairs and the actors took what they could find off the racks at Western Costume. There's films where they spent the money and went for the glamour and there's films where they just used what they could find because they had a 20 day schedule. There's also films where the clothes fit the character, and sometimes the character was a guy with bad taste or who couldn't afford anything better.
     

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