Archival Clothing - Made in USA

Posts Tagged ‘clothing for women’

Archival Review: Filson Knitwear

March 19th, 2009

Discontinued Filson Cardigan
If I ever earn a spot on Filson’s Council for Women (an advisory and field testing group), I’d recommend that Filson introduce a line of made-in-USA knitwear for women (and slim-framed gents).

Filson currently offers only one sweater for women–the snowflake and deer patterned Cowichan.

The first installment in my knitwear collection for women would be a scaled down version of the Outfitter sweater. Although a few other US outdoor clothing companies offer a heavy duty, all wool waterfowling pullover, none match the overbuilt quality of the Filson Outfitter.

Side note: the nearest commercial match to the Outfitter sweater would be the McAlister Duration Waterfowl sweater (if you like your waxed cotton in an Advantage Camo pattern) or the McAlister Duration 3-button version (at $149.00, an attractive option for an austerity shopper in the standard S-XXXL size range).

In addition to bringing out a new women’s Outfitter sweater, I’d reintroduce a modernized version of Filson’s (discontinued) worsted wool cardigan. My updated version would have an overall slimmer fit with narrower sleeves (no balloon arms), shorter body length (avoiding the bathrobe effect) and a much higher buttoning neck (no deep V-neck cardigans for me) . I’d also remove the suede shooting patches or swap them out for waxed cotton. The final sweater might look something like this:

Although many commercial knitting mills have gone out of business in the Northwest, I’m optimistic that Filson is still having their US-made sweaters manufactured in the region. Out of curiosity, does anyone know who does the contract knitting for Filson?

Visual addendum for Filson:

Shopping from Television: Equestrian Training Ensembles (Mad Men: Season 2)

March 13th, 2009

Betty Draper’s riding instructor (Mad Men: Season Two)

Like the rest of the world, I love Mad Men. But for me, it’s a snow globe world I want to watch but not occupy. Last week, I caught an easy-to-miss view of Betty Draper’s riding instructor in the first episode of the second season (“For Those Who Think Young”). For the first time, I could actually see myself wearing one of the show’s on-camera outfits (and further, recognize a plausible profession for me in the early 1960s). Here, I love how the instructor mixes her plaids, belts her shirt and sports an accessory neckerchief and worn fedora (not sure what she’s wearing under the hat–another scarf, perhaps?). The look is so distinctive (and semi-eccentric) that I’m wondering if it was inspired by a horsey celebrity (Hepburn?) or specific photograph. Overall, the ensemble and instructor are so antithetical to the sleek stylistic system of the show that it only merits one second or so of screen time. As it were, I could barely coax my digital video recorder to pause on the ensemble long enough to take a photo (the DVR kept pitching me forward to the next shot of a slick gent on horseback).

Filson Mackinaw Cruiser (vintage women’s version)

Heritage Collections for Women?

March 13th, 2009
Blueprint for future use
From the Montgomery Ward 1949-1950 catalog
Aside from a few collections and reports to the contrary, the heritage clothing revival has yet to make its way to the female consumer.

Sometimes I think I’m the only woman admiring all the beautiful, Americana inspired sportswear, footwear and accessories featured on blogs like A Continuous Lean and h(y)r collective, etc.

Last Spring 2008, Filson launched their collection for women (a nice effort save for the “peach poplin” blend fabrics and a few unfortunate cut and color choices). Barbour, Carhartt, Beretta and John Partridge all now market outdoor (albeit, activity specific) clothing to women. But beyond this short list (plus a few others, of course), most US and UK heritage brands assume an all male audience for their product lines. Red Wing, a company known for offering shoes and boots in a wide range of sizes, starts sizing for their “Lifestyle Heritage Range” range at 7. Although Red Wing sells smaller sizes to the Japanese market, there are no plans to bring them to the US. Why is the heritage line not being sized to fit a broader market of women and gents with smaller feet? I put the same question to Filson since they have been deflecting requests for footwear for women since the men’s line was introduced in the 1990s.

Even cycling brands like Rapha, Swobo and Showers Pass, all known for non-mainstream designs, reserve their new vintage/”old school” outerwear collections for men only. For examples, see Rapha’s tweed softshell or the Showerspass Portland jacket which are all sized to edit out (all but the most robust) women. On the Swobo website, the pulldown menu for men lists organic cotton, wool and waxed cotton jackets (beyond the staple cycling clothing offerings). The women’s menu offers a few bland selection of jersyes and cotton shorts–but no waxed cotton or wool outerwear. No demand?

All I’m asking for is modern access to the teenage sportswear department of 1949 Montgomery Ward cataog. Those three pages (shown above) contain everything I need, if ordered in multiples, to get me through to my first retirement check: pinwale corduroy and gabardine shirts, glen plaid slacks, denim dungaries, new wool turtleneck pullovers, a nice pea coat and/or a donegal wool “abbreviated storm jacket.” Loafers and jophur boot appear to be the default style of footwear.

You’ll note that the Montgomery Ward catalog items do not default to the easy “feminizing” of overt/excessive pleating, hourglass paneling and terrible color selections of some heritage products resized/restyled for women.

Given how trends shake out, reverberation style, I anticipate nods to the heritage movement in the mainstream Gap and JCREW collections for women in the next year. Any speculation on how they might play out on a literal level? What I’m anticipating is the trace appearance of heritage styling, for example, in the form of models wearing alpine climbing boots with red laces, etc.

Before we get the heritage knock-offs and next generation homages for women, I’d love to see the reissue of a few more first generation originals.
Ginger Rogers and friends in 1937 (from Ginger Roger: My Story)


Frocks I might wear: Rakuten Explorer

September 23rd, 2006

I take most of my fashion cues from Japanese websites (which show a circular fascination for US outdoor clothing companies like CC Filson, Duluth Pack, Centralia Woolen Mills and Russell Footwear)(further, exhibiting on their pages sportwear brands which do not actually exist in the US or for which items are produced exclusively for the Japanese market).

So, today, with highspeed internet intact, I’m starting to search out possible dress or frock styles which I could believably wear on campus. I doubt I could order any of these items from Japan but I might be able to secure a patternmaker to do up some sort of localized version–maybe out of a stiff canvas, corduroy or burlap material. Key feature here is the garment’s ability to button up over an existing outfit–making it more utility based and easy to escape if the shame of wearing it became too great.