Reproduction Footwear

There are some sites that offer really good reproduction footwear. Here are three I think offer some of the best: – S.B. Juniper offers some really impressive examples of 18th century footwear on her website. I don’t think she makes any ‘off the rack’ examples, so you would have to order them bespoke which means they will be expensive, but it also means they should fit well. Most ready to wear repro 18th century shoes are workwear so its nice to see a place that offers fashion footwear from the era. – I have ordered shoes from here for mannequins and I am happy with the quality although I suggest a black felt pen along the sole edge to improve the period look. The 18th century Dunmore in black look excellent as do the Nankeen Regency boots. The Gettysburg side laced boots (seen here) could be improved with a different lace but the Victoria Carriage boots are flawless reproductions. For the 20th century, the Savoy looks believable for Edwardian shoes while the Gibson looks like an excellent choice for the early 1920s. – have some great shoes, especially for the 1940s. Their model Frances works well for the 1930s, while virtually all their low heeled and wedge-heeled sandals are excellent for wartime 40s into the early 1950s. Their evening high heeled shoe models Ritz and Garnet could also serve for a broad period of time from the late 1930s into the mid 1950s.

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Fashion in Song – Canada Goose

I don’t know how one coat could inspire two rap songs… but it did.

Here are the Lyrics to the first video:

Walking in the city and some people pass you right by.
You’re not drinking but you can’t help but be thinking
“Didn’t you just pass that girl and guy?”
you ignore the intellection
but the next intersection
has you right back questioning why
when you look in each direction
you’re seeing a reflection
of the same damn girl and guy?
This all has you non verbal
Are you walking around in circles?
Is your sense of direction gone?
No they’re tailor made equal
it’s just different people
with the same fucking jacket on.

Everyone in T Dot wears the same damn coat
Is it cheap Nope?
800 bucks, it’s Canuck.
Goose Goose Goose Goose Goose Goose Duck

It’s a shopping spree on the TTC newscaster on TV.
Why you asking me if this coat was free?

I need it for extreme conditions in my SUV
Heat only goes to 3
This setting takes forever to warm my knees.
And if you’re all down
It’s inside what counts.
I better use credit.
because my cheques will bounce.

For some its a symbol, shows we paid our dues.
We got the guy in coat check totally confused.

I got to sign up
I got to join the parade.
patch proudly displayed
a call to financial aid

I go to Yonge and Eg when the sales days done. They’ve sold 99 jackets and they’re all the same one.

Ok some come short
some cover the leg
Which came first, the Yonge or the Eg?
I paid 600,000 to live in a box
So why not pay 600 to freeze of my cock.

Got to have it I got to fit in
I’ll even wear the knock off with the dead birds in.
with the dog and kitten trim.
Lined with Garfield and Odie
Substitute the Coyote.
and I’m CHILLING like Mo Dee.
People in the city just wear them because they’re pretty.
but they wear them up north where there’s an undeniable chill
Am I talking about the arctic?
No Markham & Richmond Hill.

I knew this girl
She said “best money spent”.
She wore the coat, on a date we went.
Head to the subway. Pull out our token.
Straight to dinner with this girl that’s smoking.

Got to our stop at Yonge and D
Then every single person looked the same to me.
Thinking how much cash this company must be reeling in.
She walked into the crowd and disappeared like a chameleon
The writings on my pants ,the wrong business I’ve been dealing in.
UGG Don’t feel so Wellie bathroom stall I will be kneeling in.
what a croc pants didn’t open. (parachute pants). Jumped and caved my ceiling in.
I’ll see you 2016 at the goodwill bargain bin.

Not doubting quality stitching
Locally made, no kids in the kitchen
But everyone in T Dot is wearing the same damn coat.

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Glossary – Size Zero

For such a recent term, there are already apocryphal stories about its origin including that it was invented for Twiggy. The truth is that it first appeared in about 2000. American designer Nicole Miller is credited with its first use by one writer, and when asked Miller explained “One year, our sales manager wanted to size the clothes bigger and we started calling the size 8s a 6… Then the result of that was losing the smaller customer, so we had to add the zero.” Although Miller admits she is not sure if she was the first to adopt the ‘zero’, as many manufacturers picked up the term at about the same time.

By early 2001 the term is in common usage and is becoming the source of debate and comic comment. Ellen Degeneres was noted in a February 1, 2001 magazine for joking about the term “I don’t understand the sizes anymore. There’s a size zero, which I didn’t even know that they had. It must stand for: ‘Ohhh my God, you’re thin.”

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Bad fashion shows….

This mid 1970s fashion show is about colours for German football team uniforms (if my tiny amount of German serves me correctly….)

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As Seen In – Italian Mules, 1957

White leather and painted wood mule with wire cage heel with glass birds on swing. Labelled Creazioni Moriarty Anacapa, Italian, c. 1957

Mule by Moriarty Anacapa, Italian, c. 1957

I acquired the cage-heeled painted-wood and white leather Italian mule (one of a pair) for the Bata Shoe Museum while I was the curator at Bata in the 1990s. Inside the heel is a pair of glass lovebirds on a swing.

I had forgotten about them until Milo and Irma of The Historialist found a  similar pair being modelled in 1957 in a British Pathe newsreel entitled Shoes of Tomorrow.

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Canadian Tiara that survived the Lusitania goes on the block…

Lady Marguerite wearing the tiara, 1920s

Lady Marguerite wearing the tiara, 1920s

In 1882, Hugh Allan, a Scottish immigrant to Montreal in the 1830s, died, leaving his business, the Allan Shipping Line, to his son Hugh Montagu Allan. ‘Montagu’ as he was known, grew the company into the largest privately owned shipping company in the world. In 1906 he was knighted by Edward VII, and in 1909 Sir Allan sold the Allan Shipping Line to Canadian Pacific. That same year he commissioned a tiara from Cartier for his wife Lady Marguerite. The Allan name lives on in the name of the Allan Cup for amateur ice hockey.

Sir Allan and Lady Marguerite had four children, and in 1915 their eldest daughter, 20-year-old Martha, left for England to serve with the Voluntary Aid Detachment (front line nursing). The rest of the family would follow but Sir Allan had to get paperwork in order first, so Lady Marguerite and her two other daughters, Anna 16 and Gwendolyn 15, went ahead, sailing on the Lusitania.

_72684109_lusitania_gettyOn 4 February 1915, Germany declared British waters a war zone and any allied ships would be at risk from attack by German U boats. On the day the Allans departed, 1 May 1915, the Imperial German Embassy of Washington reminded tourists of the European war, placing a warning next to a newspaper advert for the Lusitania’s return voyage. However, it was generally thought the Lusitania’s speed kept her safely out of reach from  German U boat torpedoes.

On the final day of the Lusitania’s voyage, and within sight of the Irish coast, at 2:10 pm, the Lusitania crossed in front of a German U boat that was low on fuel and preparing to return home. A single torpedo fired at the ship struck the starboard side and as she sped on at 18 knots, water was forced into the Lusitania’s hull, sinking the huge ship in 18 minutes with a loss of 1,200 lives. Lady Marguerite survived, but suffered a broken collarbone and hip; her two daughters perished. Lady Marguerite’s two maids also survived, one of whom had saved Lady Marguerite’s tiara from going down with the ship.


Lady Marguerite’s tiara, made in 1909

Two years after the sinking, the Allans experienced more misfortune when their only son died on his first patrol with the Royal Navy Air Service in Belgium. Their surviving daughter, Martha, never married and died 15 years before Lady Marguerite herself died in 1957 at the age of 86. The tiara was left to an English cousin, and her granddaughter has now decided to sell the tiara at Sotheby’s, where it is expected to sell for around a half million dollars.

Added November 11: The tiara sold for $ 799,265.00 U.S. dollars,

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Quick, tell me who is the current designer for Balmain… anyone? anyone?

Its Olivier Rousteing, but I bet nobody in this crowd knows that. Rousteing’s off-the-rack collection for H&M looks like the love child of Yves St. Laurent and Gianni Versace… It’s nice, wearable clothing but there is nothing new or original about it. I have seen every piece before – done by someone else. Yet this Parisian crowd like many other crowds around the world seem to think its underpriced as they grabbed every piece they could to resell online…

It’s official, the world is now going to hell in a handcart.

(7/11/15 Apparently the film has been removed because it showed people’s faces, some sort of breech to privacy… whatever…)

Posted in Off the Rack, Retailing | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Canadian Fashion Connection: Grafton – men’s apparel manufacturer and retailer

James Beatty Grafton was born to Irish immigrants near York (Toronto) on September 9, 1826. After apprenticing in the wholesale and dry-goods trade he went into business with Anthony Gregson – opening a dry goods store in Dundas Ontario in 1853. The partnership was dissolved in 1858 and Grafton formed a new partnership with his brother, under the name of J. B. (James Beatty) and J. S. (John Stewart) Grafton. In 1863 the brothers partnered with Robert Ellis to purchase a woollen mill in Ancaster to make their own blankets and cloth, and the following year built a second mill in Brantford. By 1868 the Grafton brothers had expanded into producing men’s apparel that they sold alongside the firm’s line of blankets and other goods consigned through their Dundas store.

J.B.’s oldest son James John (J.J.) entered the business in 1873, and in 1884 was made a partner in the newly renamed Grafton and Company. The company began to improve the quality of their clothing by purchasing woollens from overseas. Under J.J.’s lead the company expanded in the 1890s, opening stores across Ontario from Owen Sound to London, establishing one of the earliest retail chains in Canada. By 1900 Grafton employees had joined the Garment Workers Union, and in 1904 the company became a joint-stock corporation, with the majority of stock held by J.B. and J.J.

J.B. died in 1907 leaving his son, J. J. to continue running the company until his death in 1939. The company was then headed by J.J.’s wife, Sarah MacMahon, and then by a Grafton cousin, Stewart Philp who ran the company until 1964 by which time the company consisted of men’s apparel manufacturing and eight stores cross Ontario. Under non-family ownership, Grafton purchased Jack Fraser Stores Ltd. (a chain of men’s mid-priced apparel stores that had been founded in 1926) and the company was renamed Grafton-Fraser Ltd. in 1967.  The company quickly expanded to 80 stores across Canada by 1976, but over-expansion into too many sidelines during the 1980s left the company vulnerable during the early 1990s recession. Under a change in ownership of the majority of shares, the company was re-organized in 1992, divesting itself of all footwear, furnishings, women’s & children’s clothing and leased departments in other stores.

In 2000, Grafton-Fraser Ltd. purchased the Tip Top Tailors chain, which had been started in Toronto in 1909 by David Dunkelman. By 2006 all Jack Fraser stores had been renamed Tip Top Tailors. Grafton-Fraser today operates 150 men’s wear stores across Canada.

1939 Spring Summer Grafton Fashions catalogue for men:

Posted in Canadian dress, Men's fashion | Tagged | 3 Comments

Dragging Up the Past for Halloween…

LAPD Cops dressed up as Women, 1960

LAPD Cops dressed up as Women, 1960

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Zero is the new 8, or is it…

Vogue pattern, 1954 with both a size number and sizes posted on cover.

1954 Vogue pattern with both a size number and sizes posted on cover.

Anyone who collects or wears vintage clothes knows that commercial sizes have dramatically changed over the years. There was never a need to arbitrarily assign sizes to clothing until the ready-to-wear industry took off in the early 20th century. The earliest ready-to-wear garments were shoes, and their sizing system was developed during the early 19th century that was based on a percentage derived from an actual measurement of the foot. The earliest ready-to-wear women’s clothes were marked with a size number that was an actual measurement, usually the bust – ’36’ for example. Men’s dress shirts are still marked using actual measurements: 17/34 refers to a neck measuring 17 inches, and an arm length measured from the centre of the nape to the wrist of 34 inches. But for women’s clothes, actual measurements were displaced in the late 1920s by a size number that was arbitrarily used to stand in for actual measurements.

In an attempt to create a better standardized sizing system, the U.S. government commissioned a study of women’s sizes in 1940, in part to be able to create wartime uniforms for women in service. This study of 15,000 women took into consideration proportions as well as size. Ultimately, it was realized a standardized system could not work for all women as there were too many variants, which lead to several addenda including: half sizes, tall sizes, petite, misses, and junior sizes. In 1958 the American National Bureau of Standards created a publication to explain how the system worked – for example, a standard size ‘8’ consisted of a 31 inch bust, and 23 inch waist, while a size ’12’ had a 34 inch bust and 25 inch waist.

Chart showing the changes in sizes between 1958 and 2011

Chart showing the changes in sizes between 1958 and 2011

In 1970 the system was revised, the result of which was an increase of about an inch to all measurements. This was because of the new aesthetic for easier fitting clothes – it had nothing to do with a growing weight problem in the U.S. population. In 1983, as part of its deregulation spree, the U.S. government abandoned overseeing a standardized sizing system and left it up to manufacturers to create what worked best, which turned into a vanity sizing free for all.

Manufacturers quickly realized they could reduce the size number, flattering potential shoppers into thinking their clothes fitted their unrealistic size. Over the next 20 years size numbers gradually reduced. By 2011 a size 8 now boasted a 36 inch bust and 30 inch waist, and a size 12 had a 39 inch bust and 32 inch waist.

The concept of a size 0 was also introduced in 2011. This unrealistic pretension measured 26 at the waist and 32 at the bust, a size that is significantly larger than the 1958 size 8. Even a double zero could not match the 1958 size 8 at the waist. For more information check out this article and the links contained within.

Added October 31: I was following up on some fact checking with this, and found there is a LOT more to the story — there is a thesis in this ridiculous topic! Here is a link to another article with more detail.

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