Mail order caralogs began as primrily an Americn phonemon because of the long distances people in rural areas livd from cities with large stores. This phomenon spread to Europe where store catalogs and newspaper advertising were already widespread. Interestingly. before World I, Europeans companies had huge markets. Nuch of the continent wa part of three empires (Austri-Hungary, Germany, and Russia). After World War I, mail order catlogs became more complicated because of all he borders, national languages, abd custom regimes. After World War II, the imposition of Communism in Eastern Europe adversely affected commercial development. Many important mail order companies developed after World War II, especially with the advent of European integration. We begin to see the disappearnce of national clothing styles and the devlopment of pan-European styles, this even penetrated the Iron Curtain. he collapse of Communism meant that Eastern Europeans could enjoy the convenoence of mail order caralogs. There were some problems such as the insecurity of Italian mail deliveries. The appearnc of the Euro help to facilitate payment. The internet to a large degree has replaced large catalogs.
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.
We have not found many Czech catalog items yet. We have no information before World War II. After the War, te Communists seized power which shut off the possibility for commercial catalog sales. As the Czech Republic borders Germany, we suspect that many Czechs since the fall of Communismbuy from German catlogs. A reader tells us about the 2013 King's Catalog showing a boy wearibg zip pull-over sweater, short panbys, basevall capo, and canouflage [attern tights. The tights are done in a bkended fvric (80 percenbt coitton, 18% polyamide, abd 2 percent elastane designed to be durable and comfortable and proividing a skin-tight fit without being constructive. In central Europe can be wirnb in three seasons of the year. Size ranges are for boys 98-140 cm in three sizes for boys roughly 13 years of age. "
A Danish HBC reader reports that there have been two major Danish mail stores: 1) Daell Varehus and 2) Sommers. Another company is Bornetoj. 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. Unfortunately we can not translate the pages we have found.
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.
Mail order catalogs help to illustrate destinctive German clothing styles and changes over time in those styles. HBC has concentrated primarily on the photographic record. Mail order catalogs provide an important source of additional information. The ad copy provides important information on on color, material, detailing, and terminology. The German catalog information is paricularly important. German had the largest and most important fashion industry in Europe. It affected fashions not only in Germany, but the wider German-cultural area as well as the smaller countries of Central and Eastern Europe. We see catalogs in the late-19th century and the early-20th century. And they were part of the hugeimpact the Germann fashion/garment industry had on Europe. This changed with the Cold War and the Soviet Communist errection of the Iron Curtain. This affected not only commercial transactions, but personal movements, and media. Much of the area once affected by the German fashion/garment industry )Estern abd Central Europe) was now inside the Iron Curtain. But it is not clear to us to what extent West German fashions affected East Germany and how East Germany affected fashions in Easrern Europe. Unlike West Germany, East Germany did not have the mail order loting catlogs that developed in Wet Germany after the War. Our archive of German catalog items is still quite limited, but we hope to gradually expand it. 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. We do not yet know to what extent this reflects the relative existence o mail order opertions in Italy. 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. 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 (1866).
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 HBC archive. We know there were some, but at this time we have virtually no information. We have some items from the early-20th century. At the time, most of Poland was part of the Tsariust Empire. A reader has sent an illustration from an unidentified 1904 catalog with an outfit for a boy and girl. The catalog was punlished in Polish. The items pictured could have been from any European country. We have also found a catalog page from a the Lev Rubasskin store in Lodz during 1912. The fashions here also look similar to the styles worn throughout Europe. Lodz was part of the Tsarist Empire. Lodz was a city largely populated by ethnic Poles and Polish speakers with a substantial Jewish population. The catalog was published in Russian. We have no information at this time on the inter-War era when Poland had achieved its independence. We think that there were catalogs. After World War II the Soviets imposed Communism and a socilaist economy on Poland. As far as we know there were no mail order catalogs in Poland during the Communist era. We think this was a common phenomenon in all Communist countries. The inefficencies of socialist economics meant that there were huge shortages of consumer goods, thus there was no need for either advertising or mail order catalogs to facilitate sales. Polish socialist enterprises were unable to satisfy consumer demand through brick and motar stores, let alone mail morder dustribution. The problem for Communist Poland as supply was inadequte was to limit, not increase demand. This is part of the reason that Communist countries and socialist economies always fail. Those that survive only do so because they are police states.
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.
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