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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Seaside Chic in 1928

Today we offer a couple of more ads from Harper's Bazar June 1928, one from Abercrombie & Fitch and one from Lord & Taylor. Yesterday we showed a couple of spreads from the Well Designed Beach Costume from this same issue.

A bit of background on Abercrombie & Fitch.

Abercrombie & Fitch was established in 1892 by David Abercrombie as Abercrombie Co. Abercrombie was joined by Ezra Fitch in 1900 and the company officially became Abercrombie & Fitch Co. The company began as a supplier of rugged, outdoor gear.

Both David Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch were stubborn, hot-tempered men, and they had vastly different views about the future of their business. Abercrombie was more conservative, content to continue the store as it was, selling professional gear to professional outdoorsmen. Fitch, on the other hand, was more of a visionary. He was positive that the future of the business lay in expansion, selling the outdoors and its delights to more of the general public. Long arguments between the two men ensued. Inevitably, the partnership came to an end, and David Abercrombie resigned in 1907.

The clerks hired at A&F were not professional salesmen, but true rugged outdoorsmen. Talking was their pleasure and selling was performed only at the customers' insistence. By 1913, the store moved to a more fashionable and easily accessible midtown address just off Fifth Avenue, expanding its inventory to include sport clothing. A&F became the first store in New York to supply such clothing to women as well as men.

By 1917, Abercrombie & Fitch moved to Madison Avenue and 45th Street, where it occupied an entire twelve story building. Outside a sign proclaimed "Where the Blazed Trail Crosses the Boulevard." Abercrombie & Fitch had become the largest sporting goods store in the world, as well as the most impressive. A log cabin was built on the roof, which Fitch used as a townhouse.

By 1928, Ezra Fitch retired from the business to enjoy his remaining few years in the great outdoors that he loved so much. Abercrombie & Fitch continued to grow, with stores opening up in Chicago and San Francisco. But by the late '60s the store hit upon hard times and went bankrupt in 1977. Oshman's Sporting Goods, based in Houston, Texas, bought the company. Business wasn't good. The Limited Inc. bought Abercrombie & Fitch in 1988. And today, Abercrombie & Fitch thrives as a publicly held company. A powerful lifestyle brand, business is thriving at Abercrombie & Fitch with hundreds of stores.

This is an ad from Abercrombie & Fitch in Harper's Bazzar of 1928 titled The Call to the Sea.

Fashionable beaches...carefree sportswomen...flashes of color...sparkling water...brilliant sunlight...There is as much personality and individuality to a bathing costume as to any other of the sportswomens clothes...striking designs...unusual color combinations...all contribute to the general effect of smartness which our beach wear invariably creates. The latest and cleverest styles for the new season are here impatiently awaiting the call to the sea.

(Left) Two piece bathing suit, figured silk tunic in combination of violet, gold, black, green and red. Blending, jersey tights, silk trimmed $16.50.

(Left Center) One Piece Wool Swimming Suit: Navy, black, saxe blue, royal green and scarlet, $8.50.

(Right Center) Two piece Wool Swimming Suit, white shirt with colored dots, flannel trunks of solid color to match dots. Colors: White with scarlet, black, navy, jade, and powder blue, $10.50. Flannel cardigan to match suit, $10.50.

(Right) Slip of celanese satin with tie belt. Black, red, green and saxe blue. $10.50. In celanese moire, same colors, $13.50. Ribbed jersey tights to be worn under slips, black and staple colors, $3.50.

Silk moire beach pillow and Bathing Bag combined - black, red, green, blue and purple. $.00
Bathing belts in solid colors or fancy stripes .50 to $3.50. Bathing and diving caps, .75-$2.50.
Bandanas of silk or satin in all colors, $2.50-$4.50.

I love the ad illustrations from this issue. Note how the monogram appears again on the beach blanket.

Yet another swimwear ad from Harper's Bazar 1928 featuring Lord & Taylor.

En Route to Seaside Chic

Beach costumes are especially important this year since the smart world is focusing it's attention on aquatic sports. Lord & Taylor presents the individual sports fashions that appear on private beaches, such as the Jane Regny pyjama ensemble or Chiaparelli's sunburn bathing suit sketched above, as wll as a fascinating variety of bathing costumes and accessories.

Chiaparelli? No that is not a typo on my part. I'm wondering if Lord and Taylor made a mistake and it was to read Schiaparelli?

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