Companies in many different countries have issue mail order catalogs. I believe that the mail order catalog was an American invention, born out of the need to market clothes and a wide variety of goods over the imense distances of rural America. The custom was only later adopted in Europe. These catalogs are excellent sources of information for national clothing trends. They not only provide useful time-line information for different countries, but a lot of useful information in the captions about sizes, material, color, options, features, and much more. We are also including material such as newspaper and magazine advertisement and fadhion magazines and publications.
Newspaper and magazine for clothing advertising developed at about the same time around the world. The same is true of store catalogs. Mail order catalogs are different. The United States is a huge country with many people living in rural sreas, in some cases remote areas. Unlike Europe, Americanns did not tend to live in rural villages, but ruight on the farm. often miles from edven a general store, let along town stores with any bkind of selection. And during the 19th century most of the population lived in rural areas. This made it difficult to shop. The same was true of Canada, especially wesrtern Canada. Thus after the Civil war we begin to see mail order catalogs appearing to reach these consumers. The result was a commercial revolution. Sears and Wards were leaders, but several department stores followed with their own mail order catalogs. These catalogs provide an invaluable record of period fashion trends.
U.S. mail order catalogs like Montgomery Ward and Sears Roebuck were leaders in creating mail order stores. Scholars have called the Wards catalog one of the 100 most influential books ever publisged. These catalogs were a necesity in the far flung reaches of rural America. Both were founded in Chicago, the center of the railroad network that spread througout the American heartland. These compamies eventually founded retail stores and continued to be highly influential into the 1960s.
We have only limited information on Canadoan catalogs and advertisements at this time. What we have suggests some similarity with American fashions. One of the subjects we want to consider is to what extent English and French fashions affected the two different language communities.
We have some limited information on Japanese catalogs. So far we only have images from a few catalogs. We do not yet have any ad copy from these catalogs and some images we have are noy dated. Hopefully our Japanese readers will help us build this section.
We have very limited information from Korea. The country is one of the great success stories in Asia. Korean prosperity has created a consumer economy that has begun to approach Japanese levels of prosperity. We have been able to obtain very little informatio on Korean caalogs and clothing advertisements. Some infrmation on the 2000s is available from on-line catalogs. Computer use is quite intebsive and Korean consumers do a great deal of on-line purchasing. Of course we are talking aout South Korea. I doubt if North Korea has any clothing catalogs or even clothing advertisements.
We do not yet know of any Belgian catalog companies. The Belgian magazine Vrouw en Huis ("Woman and Home"). I do not know just when it began publishing, but know it was active in the 1950s. As it was published in Dutch for Flemish readers, itvwas also popular in the Netherlands. It was a weekly magazine magazine. In the magazine there are a lot of patterns for woman to make their own clothes. There was also a children's section.
A Danish HBC reader reports that there have been two major Danish mail stores: 1) Daell Varehus and 2)Sommers. Our Danish reader is looking for an old catalog and hopefully will provide some information to us. He does not know when they started but presume it must have been about 1920. One firm Hanna Andersson specialized in hosiery.
English mail order catalogs and newspaper advertisements help to illustrate destinctive English clothing styles and changes over time in those styles. English mail order operations appear to have begun in the 1930s. One of the destinctive features of many English catalogs have been school uniform garments. Few other European countries had school uniforms.
French mail order catalogs and advertisments help to illustrate destinctive French clothing styles and changes over time in those styles. Currently we have only limited entries here. French readers are incouraged to submiy any old catalogs and periodical advertisements as well as sewing magazines to which they have access We are especially interested in entries that can be dated by year. Our French readers have subpplied quite a few and thus we are developing a good idea of French fashion trends. While until recently recently the accompanying illustrations wre drawings rather than photographs, the ad copy provides us very important information about the age of the children wearibng these garments as well as colors, material, and detailing.
German mail order catalogs show a major shift in German boys' clothing in the 1960s. Boys no longer wore short pants to dress wear. Shorts were increasingly becoming casual wear. Lederhosen appear to have been very popular for younger boys in the 1960s and 70s. Some lederhosen were even made for girls.
We have very little catalog information on Hungary. We have found onr 1870s fashion plate. At the time, Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Thus German fashions wwere a major fashion influence.
We do not yet have information on Irish mail order catalogs. We do not know how common they were or what companies were active. Ireland is a very small country with a tiny market. Thus there could not have been many companies active. We vthink Brotish catalogs may have been used, butv we are not positive about this. There were of course adverisements in local newspapers. Hopefully our Irish readers will provide some information here.
Italy is another country of some interest to HBC. Italy is known for stylish clothing. We do not yet have, however, much information from Italian catalogs and advertisements. Hopefully Italian reades will be able to provide us some information to expand this section of HBC.
HBC has noted Dutch mail order catalogs beginning about the 1960s. There may be earlier ones, but we are not yet aware of them. Unfortunately many of the ones that we have are not precisely dated. Like other catalogs, they are very useful on following transitions in boys clothing styles.
We have not yet archived any Polish catalogs in the HNC archive. We have found a catalog page from a the Lev Lev Rubasskin store in Lodz during 1912. Lodz at the time was a part of the Tsarist Empire. Even though, Losz was a city largely populsted by ethnic Poles and Polish speakers, the catalog was published in Russian.
We do not have much information on Russian catalogs and clothing adverisements at this time. The subject is a little complicated. Hopefully Russian readers will provide some information. We assume that up until World War I and the Russian Revolution there were clothing advertisements in magazines and newspapers. These advertisements seem difficult to obtin. I'm not sure to what extent Tsarist-era publications surived in Soviet Russia. We are not sure if there were mail order catalogs, I think this was more of an American phemonenon. After the Revolution I do not think that there was advertising in newspapers and magazines, but have no actual information at this time. We do not Russian fashion magazines after World War II. These were not, however, commercial publications in that they did not actually offer clothes for sale. In fact the editors would include interesting notices advising readers not to bother them with requests asking where the fashions shown in the magazine could be obtained. We assume that since the dissolution of the Soviet Union that adverising now can be found in Russian newspaper and magazines. We do not know if there is a national mail order catalog.
English mail order catalogs and newspaper advertisements are quite similar to English advertisements. The one major difference is the kilt and other items associated with Highland dress.
We have very little information on Swedish catalogs and advertisements at this time. We are not sure what kind of mailorder ctalogs they had. Given the size of the country, mail order catalogs may have been limited. We suspect that there were foreign mailorder firms active, especially German companies. Hopefully our Swedish readers will provide some details.
We do not have very much information about Swiss catalogs and advertising. We suspect that Swiss parents may have used German, French,and Italian catalogs. All of those countries had much larger clothing industries than Switzerland. I am not sure yet, however, just when mail order became common in Europe or to the extent import duries were imposed. We have noted a catalog form the "Grand magasins Jelmoli" which was located in Zurich. They were publishing catlogs in the 1930s, but I am not sure just when they began.
We note some Australian catalogs in the 1900s, but surely there were earlier ones. The fashions illustrated in the 1900s looked very similar to English clothing. After World war I we note boy's clothing becoming more casual, better atuned to Australian climatic conditions. After World War II we see a greater American influence. There are many sporty styles in the 1980s, including outfits for skate boarding. Sun Safe clothes appear in the 1990s. School uniforms are a perenial feature of Austrlian catalogs.
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