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'Heaven' or the old-style department store...

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion - Ask Questions Get Answers' started by Noir*Boudoir, Oct 17, 2004.

  1. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    You are doing a fabulous job Lin! I will endeavour to get labels and histories of Simpson's O'Brien's, Eaton's, HBC, Holt Renfrew, Creed's and a few other Canadian department and carriage trade stores...
  2. Noir*Boudoir

    Noir*Boudoir Guest

    Thanks Jonathan!!
    I look forward to seeing the Canadian info.
    I wish I had access to a functioning scanner at the moment, since I've got quite a few really cool well-appointed salesroom views & early 20th century brochure fashion plates to add... maybe by Christmas!

  3. materialmemories

    materialmemories Registered Guest

    This thread is very exciting!!

    Lin, thank-you for your foresite in taking photos of the labels.
    This is a wonderful way of preserving and honoring the past.

    This time of year always finds me traveling back in my mind to the" Main Street" of my childhood.
    Lovely departments store Steigers, Forbes & Wallace and Johnsons bookstore!

    My Mom would get dressed up in hat gloves stockings and heels for shopping "Downtown".
    We would have to wear our best coats and shoes and be on our best behavior.
    You would have to park and walk from store to store.
    It was MAGICAL walking amid the snowflakes and the lights and Christmas windows.
    The stores fragrance counters made you long to be a GROWN UP GIRL!!!
    It would be such a treat when the make-up counter girl would give me a little lipstick-oh I thought that was the BEST!

    There was a man in the elevator and he would announce the floors, Millnery, Dresses, Better dresses, Shoes, Foundations, Notions, etc.
    Of course you needed to buy a new pair of gloves for Christmas.

    And the biggest treat was the TEA ROOM. Sometimes we would go to the basement lunch counter but we knew it was a holiday treat to go to the tea room.
    Pink Depression Glass and gorgeous china made it extra special.

    Then on to Johnsons...I still remember the small of the books!!
    Santa would be sitting in all his finery in the basement.
    I still remember being on my best behavior so I could get a golden coin.

    Ah, the memories. Now there is a Mall and who knows what in place of these wondorous buildings.

    I will try to get some of these labels for you Lin!
    Thanks for re-igniting precious childhood memories!
  4. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    I am digging through my mother's closet for old JL Hudson, Winkleman;s, Crowley's, and Jacobsen's labels as I type!!
  5. Noir*Boudoir

    Noir*Boudoir Guest

    I knew Selfridges was going to come along sometime soon. US link-up! Who knew? (not me)

    <img src="http://www.babylonmall.com/mall/182/selfridges.jpg">

    The ambitious and innovative Henry Gordon Selfridge (born in 1858 in Wisconsin USA) had a successful career in the Marshall Field store in Chicago (q.v.), eventually becoming junior partner. At the age of 48, Selfridge both acquired and sold his own department store, Schlesinger and Mayer, within three months; he then moved to London, England.

    At a loose end in the capital, in 1909 he opened a brand new department store in a specially-built palatial block on Oxford Street, including restaurants, the food hall, a library and a 'silence room'. Selfridges was an ambitious enterprise; famous for its elaborate window displays, it carried an even wider range of stock (such as expensive jewellry and make-up) than was customary in its contemporary competitors. In its stock and self-marketing, it also appealed to a wider and less exclusive customer base.

    Selfridge's presented an entirely new, more democratic experience for the shopper accustomed to the venerable Mayfair and Kensington stores which had grown from small textile retailers. Selfridge ensured that staff in his new store were trained for months before it even opened. He was quoted as wishing "to make my shop a civic centre, where friends can meet...". His pre-launch publicity vaunted the Selfridge's experience as revelatory, bringing a 'cordial 'entente' between the Customers and ourselves'.

    After nearly 40 (mostly) prosperous years of trading in Oxford street, the spendthrift Gordon Selfridge died in 1947 (having retired properly in 1940). Lord Woolton, chairman of the rival group Lewis', seized his chance and bought Selfridges within the next three years.

    In 1965, Lewis' came under the control of the British Shoe Corporation. Responding to the strong youth boutique-based fashion trends on the highstreet, they founded 'Miss Selfridges', which stocked Pierre Cardin, among other brands. Lewis' and Selfridges were later controlled for some time by Sears. Damaged by an IRA bomb in the 70s, the store was entirely renovated in the late 90s.

    Still a lavish store well-stocked with high-end labels (and still maintaining an in-house garment alterations workshop), Selfridges has become a bastion of Oxford Street shopping (a a second branch was recently opened in Birmingham).

    ('Miss Selfridge' has been a separate highstreet chain for many years)
  6. Noir*Boudoir

    Noir*Boudoir Guest

    Plus ca change, plus ca la meme chose (\'cept with accents\')

    Debenham & Freebody ad for their model gowns dept., from 1935, the Illustrated London News:
    'Distinction in Dress at Moderate Cost'

    <img src="http://www.vc-mall.com/mall/182/olddebenhams.jpg" width=450>

    Debenhams ad for their...gowns, 2004.
    'Look a million dollars, spend a little less.'

    <img src="http://www.vc-mall.com/mall/182/newdebenhams.jpg" width=450>
  7. Noir*Boudoir

    Noir*Boudoir Guest

    Simpson\'s St. Regis Room

    I know that Anne has a Ceil with this department store label in it. I'm thinking it's based in New York somewhere, since this postcard has a 'Ratavia, N.Y' 12th December 1956 postmark on it. But maybe not.
    It was sent to someone in Canada.

    <img src="http://www.vc-mall.com/mall/182/simpsonstregis.jpg">

    It looks like a photo, but close up, you can tell that it's actually a drawing...

    (p.s. I've added a pic to the post on Marshall & Snelgrove, in case anyone's interested!)

    Edit> duh! I forgot to actually read the info on the card...

    <b>'Simpson's St. Regis Room on Fashion Floor, the Third, is the women's fashion specialty shop, featuring custom-made garments and the latest import collections from famous designers of the world.


    I wonder whether this is the same Simpson's that Jonathan mentions?

    (observationally challenged)
  8. Yes...that has to be our Canadian Simpsons (long before it became Simpsons Sears, then Sears).

    Also the Hudson's Bay Company had/has The Mirror Room with all the very high end garments.

    Very cool Lin!!
  9. bigchief

    bigchief Alumni VFG Past President

    A 60's Marshall Fields label -

    <img src="http://image.inkfrog.com/pix/bigchief/marshal_field_france.jpg" width=199 height=149>

    I'll write a short bit about this Chicago institution - just not right now!


  10. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    I will have to find a JL Hudson label to go as a sibling to your Marshall Field's label :)
  11. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    John Wanamaker
    City: Philedelphia, expanding to Westchester, NY

    From a late 70s Rooster tie - circa 77/78

    John Wanamaker & Co was an upscale men's clothier. John Wanamaker was born in 1838 (died 1922). He and his brother-in-law first opened Wanamaker & Brown in Philedelphia. Some of the clothing was manufacrured right at the facility. In 1876, he purchased the old location of the Pennsylvania Railroad and opened up "Grand Depot," his very popular second store which carried both clothing and drygoods. In 1896, he was a marketing pioneer, introducing the "Money Back Guarantee", was the first to have a "White Sale" and an in- store restaurant to spark business and expanding to New York City. The store also had a revolutinary "wheel" or "hub" set up.

    Wanaker died in 1922, but not before expanding, opening a bank and becoming Postmaster General of the United States under President Benjamin Harrison (1889-93)

    In 1927, the men's store exanded to a second location and at its height, had 16 outlets.

    No longer able to compete with the low prices of larger retails, the shops were sold by the family in 1978 to Carter Hawley Hale stores, and in 1986 they changed hands again to A. Alfred Taubman, who also bought the Woodward & Lothrop stores which Wanamaker was absorbed into. Two years later Woodward & Lothrop was lost to bankruptcy and two major retail institutions were lostforever.

  12. Noir*Boudoir

    Noir*Boudoir Guest

    Cool! I was listening to a current retail business report on a consumer programme the other day, and the long-term analysis was still that dept stores in general are on the way out - finding it very tough (not just Marks & Spencer in the UK, but even the high end ones).
    The idea was that the multi-tasking, all-product-selling supermarkets are taking over the role that dept. stores once had. Just our version of Walmartisation perhaps? Sorry, nothing to do with clothes, but still...
  13. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    Well...i think the problem is that with the old department stores, it was more of a "relationship." and a lot of people want to be anonymous. they want to shop to escape. you can manage to go to the mall and not talk to a soul there until you want to check out at a register and even then it might not happen. and some people like that because they just want that time to themselves.

    Sure, there were prices they could not meet when the big conglomerates came to town, and might not have had as much stuff, but they definitely filled an important niche. But looking back i noticed is that the prices were slightly higher, but it really was better quality merchandise too so it was a better value.

    Mitzelfeld's in downtown Rochester, Michigan closed a few years back after being there forever...before it was a popular place. Everyone went from miles around whenever they had a special occassion. I remember the center island in the ladies section. It was a counter and behind it were an island of little drawers with every longline bra size imaginable in 3 different colors when you needed one for your prom dress. At the big stores, they would have one length in just the most common sizes to maximize profit margin. There was an older lady with glasses on a chain and her cardigan and pearl buttoned blouse and sensible shoes that had probably worked their since she was a young gal. She would slide open the little drawers like a librarian filing through an old fashioned car catalog. that's one thing i want some day...an old oak of cherry card catalog from an old library with all the little drawers.. anyway...i digress.... and there were all sorts of nice slips as well.

    Also, you could also get religious occassion items like a first communion dress, a suit for a little kid that looked just like dad's when a function came up, and Judaic items as well. This was important, as the big stores were both not able to cater to what the local population was, and they thought dealing in such items was too touchy anyways.

    I might not be able to buy chewing gum there, or the very latest faddish shoes but if you needed something you couldn't find that's where you went. and sometimes not having unlimited choices but having carefully selected items in your size made life so much easier. and when that was gone, they got something different in, so your friend would not show up in the same dress next week.

    But as the area boomed and more people moved into the area, they went to the superstores.

    And what is the end of the story? thebrick front building has ben subdivided and an Irish Pub is going in on one side. I don't think they have a tenant for the rest of the building yet.

    But i will say one thing about superstores. My aunt who used to travel a lot on business said that she learned that regular Kmarts have one of two floorplans. So whatever town she was in, she could go to one and be in and out in five minutes. That's no fun!
  14. Noir*Boudoir

    Noir*Boudoir Guest

    Nodding agreement with all of the above. :(

    Parenthesis here. I've been storing up a small 'wish list' of store labels in my head that I've been hoping to come across. But it dawned on me, since Lizzie did the same thing, that it's a hell of a lot easier if I just post the ones I'm looking for right now. So if you've got something in your private collection with this on it, post!

    Dickins and Jones - any label, but particularly the vintage script labels that look similar to the old Harvey Nichols ones.

    Swan and Edgar - obsolete luxury store on Piccadilly - have info in my Debenhams book for these guys.

    Schofields of Leeds - a very old store with a sad demise - it would be nice to document them.

    That's all I can think of for now...
  15. Noir*Boudoir

    Noir*Boudoir Guest

    Anyone from Derby?

    Since I have a 'Bracegirdle' label, I'm going to post a provisional write up, if Lizzie feels it can be included. Since I've never been to Derby (well, outside of the railway station), I have no idea what this place is like, but the info does give off very old-dept-store vibes.

    A web-site dated c.2000-1 says Bracegirdle's has been open for over 85 years - whether that's as a fully-fledged department store is unclear. It's also unclear, despite a refurbishment in 2001, whether they're still in business.

    Anyone know?
    <img src="http://www.vc-mall.com/mall/182/bracegirdlederby.jpg">
  16. Patentleathershoes

    Patentleathershoes VFG Veteran VFG Past President

    Oh what a tangled web! This is the short and sweet version of the company. (there are so many twists and turns) i can not find much on the early workings of Jordan Marsh, but there is a book out there that i may get.

    I. Magnin was sold off during reorganization, but i am unclear whether they belonged to Allied, Federated, or Macy's originally. Filene's and Foley's were purchased by May dept stores which is another saga for another day.

    but for now...it is ONLY about Jordan Marsh...

    Jordan Marsh


    Label from a 50s suit

    Jordan Marsh was founded in Boston by Benjamin Marsh and Eben Jordan, with conflicting reports stating the year as 1841 or 1851. Eben Marsh is well known for later buying large amounts of property in Boston's Back Bay District and building theaters

    In 1935, Jordan Marsh founds Allied Department stores, which was previously named Hahn, a holding company that began to purchase local department stores to give them big chain advantages. They also eventually aquire Sterns in Ohio, William H. Block In Indianapolis, Rikes, and others. In 1958, a 18 year old Ralph Lauren is hired as assistant menswear buyer for Allied department stores.

    Allied was later purchased by the Campeau corporation in 1986, and it is reorganized under a merger agreement. Campeau sells Bloc to Federated departments tores, and the next year purchases Federated Department stores. The two conglomerates operate in a parallel manner until a bankruptcy and reorganization in 1992, and Allied is no longer. The new federated merges with Macy's in 1994 and most of the old nameplates are converted to Macy's or lost forever. In 1994, Jordan Marsh stores in the northeast became Macy's, and in the South, Burdine's. In 2004, the Macy's South stores are now Burdine's Macy's

    Though it is gone, it is not forgotten, many Bostonians still refer to their visit to Macy's as "going to Jordan Marsh."

    Compliments of patentleathershoes/KitschNSink
  17. fuzzylizzie

    fuzzylizzie Alumni

    I noticed that I don't have the Selfriges label yet on the resource. Is that write ready to be put in, Lin>
  18. Noir*Boudoir

    Noir*Boudoir Guest

    I just went back and looked over it - edited a couple of things and added a few phrases based on having seen comments on it in 'the London Look' recently (and an ad reproduced there).

    As always, too much verbiage, so if you think people don't need to know when they were bombed, etc., do take it out...

  19. alonesolo

    alonesolo Guest

    That may be Batavia NY its near Buffalo which is near the Canadian border.

    Haven't gotten back to this in a while sorry. You have some wonderful info there.
  20. noir_boudoir

    noir_boudoir Registered Guest

    Brought to my attention by Carolyn/Bigchief - thanks Carolyn!!

    Made me think of department stores as if they were going the way of the old ocean liners. Remember those 30s-40s shots of Manhattan from the air with the piers bristling 80 thousand tonner behemoths? Hope the dept stores aren't scuttled too...

    From the <i>New York Times</i>

    February 28, 2005
    <b>More Luster Lost From Palaces of Retailing </b>


    They were designed as glittering temples of consumerism, carefully planned marble-and-gilt palaces devoted to making people want what was displayed inside.

    For generations, department stores drew millions who yearned to shop for just about everything under one roof, and New York was the nation's capital of department stores.

    The question raised by the announcement of the proposed merger between Federated Department Stores and the May Department Stores Company is whether this is one more step in the long decline of that tradition or a last-ditch effort to save it.

    The merger's effects - in New York and across the country - are likely to include layoffs and store closings, analysts said, and perhaps the loss of another great name in retail. Some of the chains owned by the two companies could be spun off and many of their locations sold, becoming victims of possible antitrust requirements of the Federal Trade Commission and the intensifying reality that shoppers tend to veer between discounters and high-priced specialty stores, spending less and less of their money in places in between.

    It would be hard on the city to see a decline in the number of department stores, said Lizabeth Cohen, a history professor at Harvard University and author of "A Consumers' Republic." May's flagship store, Lord & Taylor, is still a looming presence on Fifth Avenue, and Federated's mainstays, Bloomingdale's and Macy's, still thrive in the city, employing thousands. Together, the two companies operate more than 180 stores in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, including department stores and smaller specialty shops.

    "When there are these big mergers, the surviving entity carries a lot of debt and that influences their operation as well," Professor Cohen said.

    Many of the great stores that flourished in the past are already gone, like Gimbels, B. Altman, Stern's and Bonwit Teller. The city's department stores had their roots in the carriage trade, catering to those well-heeled New Yorkers who had the time and the wherewithal to shop till their buggies could hold no more. And yet they were also the great levelers of pretension, catering, with their multiple entrances and their staffed elevators, to one and all.

    "The department store is a democratic tradition," said Elizabeth Hawes, author of "New York, New York: How the Apartment House Transformed the Life of the City." "It is in the old tradition of the bazaar, and the way it grew up in this country was something that brought people together and brought the city together and was responsible for making the city more lively."

    The stores also tended to be aspirational, pointing the way to a better life with decorating tips, fashion advice and cooking classes. For decades, department store service was white glove, and simply stepping inside one could give the weary working soul a lift. Shopping online does not impart the same atmosphere, Ms. Hawes observed.

    "It's a very different rush when you go into a department store," she said. "It's a very big idea."

    For at least a decade, discounters like Wal-Mart and Target have captured increasingly large proportions of sales in areas once controlled by department stores - electronics, apparel and home furnishings.

    At the same time, specialty retailers have emerged to zero in on many of those categories, splitting the market into two distinct groups. Shoppers who once would only have admitted to frequenting a certain class of store now brag about their savings at discounters or about hunting down bargains at specialty stores. Except for the very wealthy, the notion that where you shop says a lot about you seems practically quaint.

    These shifts have forced the big department store chains to surrender or merge, as Federated and May now intend to do. Professor Cohen says she believes that shoppers, who have come to expect bargains everywhere, may discover a downside.

    "I don't see how this could be good for consumers, in terms of the choices in products, in terms of the price structure of what consumers buy, and in terms of the range of different kinds of retail environments that we are able to go to," she said.

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