Eight years ago a picture of a brocade suit with a Givenchy label from the early 60s was posted on the Vintage Fashion Guild by Kelly-Anne. I was sure her suit couldn’t be a Givenchy because, although the brocade fabric was nice, the construction was standard factory work typical of the era. As well, the skirt had a Canadian union manufacturer’s tag.
At the time Kelly-Anne posted her pictures in 2013, there had been more than a few incidents of less-than-reputable online sellers removing designer labels from men’s ties and sewing them into dresses and suits. I myself was once duped into buying a suit with an added designer label. In my case, the dealer, who rarely dealt in vintage clothing, took the suit back without an argument, and she may have bought it that way herself. However, there were a few well-known sellers who were regularly making these alterations on purpose, concocting fake stories to accompany the label about how they got the garment from the original owner who had worn it for her going away outfit, or graduation ceremony, or bought it on her first trip to Paris… One dealer in Israel was notorious for this, but despite being regularly reported to Etsy she sold her fakes for years without repercussion.
After vociferously declaring that the Givenchy suit must be a fake, and suggesting Kelly-Anne confront the seller (who had a story about the original owner), the discussion petered out and the thread slowly slipped away into the backlog of Vintage Fashion Guild archived conversations. But then, three weeks ago, Modamuzesi, a collector from Lebanon who owned the same suit in a different colourway but with the same label, showed up with evidence that the suit was, in fact, a licensed copy of a Givenchy design.
He posted a snippet from the August 30, 1960 issue of Women’s Wear Daily, that noted Marvin Warsh, vice-president of the Toronto clothing manufacturing firm J.H. Warsh & Co. Ltd., signed a contract with Givenchy to reproduce clothes under Givenchy’s boutique label for the Canadian market. The line would become available that October through better stores across Canada and retail between $50 and $100 (the equivalent of $450 – $900 today).