Fashion Hall of Obscurity – Edgar C. Hyman – Echo Scarves

Alphabet print, mid 1970s

Alphabet print foulard, mid 1970s

After working for two veiling companies, Edgar C. Hyman started his own company in New York around the same time he married his wife Theresa in September, 1923. Inspired by his monogram, he called his company Echo, and produced print scarves, becoming a leading manufacturer of the accessory during its heyday (late 1920s – late 1970s). With stiff competition from other firms in the 1950s (Hermes, Vera…) the company shifted manufacturing off shore to keep costs down. Dorothy, Edgar and Theresa’s only child, joined the company along with her husband, Paul Roberts, in 1950. After her parents and husband died, ownership passed to Dorothy in 1978. With scarf sales shrinking, Dorothy diversified the company into clothing and belts, but soon dropped all but a profitable line of leather belts. The company also found success through licensing, starting with Ralph Lauren in 1986, adding Sarah Coventry in 1987.

Op Art print, late 1960s

Op Art print silk foulard, late 1960s

In 1993, Dorothy stepped away from the company, leaving the next generation in charge. Although private label and licensing agreements helped, the company needed to expand into new product lines to remain profitable. A men’s tie division had been added in 1992, but by the end of the decade men’s ties were also on the decline. In 1993 Echo entered into home products, producing bed and bath textiles, upholstery fabrics and coordinated wallcovering and fabric prints for various companies. In 1996 paper products were added, including stationery, photography albums, napkins, and giftwrap. In 1997, the company also began growing through acquisition when it acquired Schertz Umbrellas: Monsac Corp, a handbag company, was added in 2000.

Traditional paisley print silk chiffon, early 1960s

Paisley print silk chiffon, mid 1960s

Today, the Echo Design Group Inc. produces women’s scarves under the Echo name and through licensing agreements: the company also makes gloves, umbrellas, and ties, and home products manufactured under license. In its 93rd year of business, Echo is still privately owned and operated by descendants of the founder Edgar C. Hyman.

For more information about the company see this article.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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