This is part one of a two part blog series where we look back at clothing labels and changes in the clothing industry since the 1940s. The goal of this series is to assist people with their search for truly vintage clothing from the past, since this is a popular trend in the fashion and clothing industry. This first blog will cover the period of time from the 1940s through the 1960s. Next week’s blog post will pick up from the 1960s through today.
When shopping for vintage clothing, it is easy to get confused by the terms retro and vintage. It is important you understand the difference between retro and vintage to ensure you are actually purchasing the right clothes to suit your tastes. Retro refers to clothing that manufacturers produce to mimic past designs and create new articles of apparel. Vintage, on the other hand, refers to clothes from the past decades, which are often found at second-hand and thrift stores.
There are many identifiers to help you determine the age of an article of clothing. You can look at the cut, the type of fabric used, how it was sewn, the size, and the style. However, the key to finding truly vintage clothing is to look at the clothing labels. Custom clothing labels are the easiest way to help date apparel from various time periods. Labels have changed over the years, right alongside changes in technology, fabrics, and fashion.
Labels created in the 1940s and 1950s were considered works of art in the fashion and clothing industry. Designers, manufacturers, and retail clothing stores would spend a great amount of time developing their label designs. Labels during this period were charmingly stitched and featured the name of the store or its logo, the store’s location, and the city and state where the clothing was manufactured. An interesting fact to help you date vintage clothing is that it wasn’t until the late 1950s that United States clothing retailers started importing clothing from overseas. Prior to this time, clothing was made in the United States, so labels typically featured the city and state where the articles were produced.
Imported clothing in the late 1950s didn’t come from countries like Taiwan or China. Most clothing was imported from Hong Kong, as it was still under British rule. Clothing labels found on apparel from the 1950s until 1983 imported from Hong Kong featured the term “Made in (the) British Crown Colony of Hong Kong.” It is also worth mentioning, women’s clothing sizes from the 1950s and 1960s were numbered significantly higher. A size 6 today was the equivalent of a size 12 or 14 for clothes manufactured fifty to sixty years ago.
Additionally, during the 1960s, developments in textile technologies exploded with the creation of synthetic materials. Manufacturers were all too excited to start including the names of the synthetic materials, as well as the percentage used in garments from this time. Since many of the new synthetic materials were in various developmental stages, not all managed to survive. So, if you find clothing with a strange material name you do not recognize, chances are it is from the1960s.
To learn more about how to identify vintage clothing, please remember to read our next week’s blog post. If you require labels for your handmade clothing or to label kids’ clothing, feel free to call It’s Mine! Labels today at 1-866-695-2235.