As evidenced by my blog, I own a large collection of outdoor and country clothing catalogs. Most of my titles pre-date online shopping (early Barbour and Filson) but would not count as must have, vintage classics (for example, Sears or Montgomery Ward catalogs from the 1920s and 1930s). During my penniless days of grad school, I consoled myself by “shopping” from these catalogs, making size color selections but stopping short of filling out the obsolete order forms (how to navigate the arcane shipping and payment options).
The pride of my collection is my collection of Hedbden Cord catalogs (and companion fabric samples). For those who never saw their ads in the back of The Field magazine, Hebden Cord was an amazing, ancient UK company specializing in bespoke country clothing. Hebden Cord sold everything from full corduroy hunting suits and ventile hiking breeks to cycling plus fours and gabardine touring shorts. In my earlier catalog, each garment is drawn out as an elongated line drawing that resembled old Simplicity sewing patterns–almost inviting the reader to recreate the garment at home. Alas, like many of the companies represented in my catalog collection, Hebden Cord went out of business and disappeared from view before I could plan an actual order. A Google search for Hebden Cord will take you almost directly to my blog, Archival Clothing. I’m happy to know that my blog has given many of the ephemeral or lost brands, like Hebden Cord, a visual afterlife. For interested parties, new old stock Hebden Cord continue to show up in small batches on ebay.
In case you think that I spend my day pining over pages from Brady bag catalogs from 1989, you should know that I balance my hobby of hypothetical shopping with a near obsessive interest in long distance cycling otherwise known as randonneuring (or Audax, if you’re in the UK). This area of interest, of course, permits