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. We do not yet know to what extent this reflects the relative existence of mail order opertions in Italy. The first mail order catalog we know of id E. Frette (1886). We know that the modern Italian postal service is unrelaible. We are unsure if this was a factor in earlier periods. The largest mail order company in Italy, Postal Market was only established in the postwar era as the Italian economic miracle was well in progress (1959). As Italy is such a large country noted for fashion, our assessment of European fashion trends requires that information be developed on Italy. Hopefully Italian readers will be able to provide us some information to expand this section of HBC. A reader has provided details on an E. Frette catalog, a textile mill which began catalog sales (1886).
A mail order business in the era before private delibery services requireds an efficient postal service. This was a major problen in Itatly. I noticed in whiole in Rome. I saw long lines at utlility companies because many people did not trust L’Ufficio Postale (IP). And we notice that many eBay sellers refuse to take irders from Italy because of the unrelable IP delivery servicre. One intert post reads, "
Historically, Italy does not have a reliable postal service or large industries involving around mail commerce. Until the de-regulation post 1990s, Poste Italiane (Italian Post) was the monopoly, and just like its telecom counterpart, Telecom Italia, was known for its inefficient management and poor service.
To send something by mail often involves standing in line for ten to twenty minutes or more. To receive something mail often means not getting it in the time frame indicated by the postal service, or not getting it at all. Even until recently, postal theft was a big problem, and anything of value should not be mailed without tracking and insurance. Sometimes even things of little monetary value do not arrive in time or at all. I built a mail-order service business when I was in the U. S., relying exclusively on USPS or private courier companies to receive and deliver products from and to my customers. Over the thousands of orders that I had, I rarely used insurance option unless the customer specifically requested. In fact, I only had lost two packages, one of them stolen from my office door step. That's a very reliable postal system. Coming from this background, the quality of Italy's postal system is a stark contrast to what I experienced in the U. S." [Mailing guide in Italy] The same source optimistically reports thst there have been improvements in recent years.
We have not yet found mnuch information on Italian mail order companies. So far the only catalog company we have found during the 19th and early-20th century is E. Frette. We are not sure how the compamy dealt with the problems in the Italian postal servive. Perhaps the problems we have noted in the post-World War II era were not pronounced in this earlier period. The major post-War Italian mail order conpany is Postal Market which was eventually bpurchased by a large German group. With the advent of the internet, we notice start ups selling over the internrt (2000s). There is some inficatiin that Itlaian postal service has improved in recent years.
Italian mail order catalogs and advertisements offer a great deal of information on specific clothing styles and garments worn over time. We are at this early stage of developing our catalog archive focusing primarily on the chronological pages. We will eventually list these pages in both sections. We have some catalog pages without dates which we are initially archiving here.
Italian mail order catalogs and newspaper advertisements offer a very useful time line on changing fashion trends. The first mail order catalog we are aware of is E. Frette (1886). We have no 19th century information. We susoect that some Department stores may have had catalogs. We have some E. Frette catalig pages (1920s). After World War II in the post-War era, Postal Market was established (1959). It became the largest mail order compamy in Italy. It has since been prchased by a large German compamy. We do not know to what extent catalogs from neighboring countries could be used. Fashions magazines were also of some importance. HBC has begun collect mail order pages, but at this time have only a few such pages. Advertisements appeared in the newspapers before the first mail order catalogs appeared.
"Mailing guide in Italy," Expats in Italy ewebsite," (January 20, 2016).
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