One of the most popular styles of boys jackets was the leather bomber jacket, especally during the 1940s-50s. The style derived from the short jackets worn by airmen during World War II. Here is a vintage jacket sold by Sears in 1961. It is similar to the classic bomber jacket, although the pockets are done somewhat differently. It was an item in Sears Boyville line, a storebrand focusing on boys' clothes. Interestingly we have an account from the grownup boy who actually wore it.
The Sears, Roebuck and Co., huge merchandising firm centered in Chicago was founded by Richard W. Sears (1863-1914) and A.C. Roebuck (1864-1948). Sears had begun a career in mail-order business in Minnesota 1886. In Chicago he and Roebuck joined resources and formed a corporation in 1893 as a mail-order business under title Sears, Roebuck and Company. Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932) in 1895 bought Roebuck's interest in firm and became president on Sears's retirement 1908. A retail-store system was added 1925. The first foreign store added in Havana, Cuba during 1945 and becane te first expropriated store in 1960. The Sears-Roebuck brought the production of industry to the fartherest corner of rural America, opening the cornucopia of the consumer age to rural America. All the new things that were changing American life danced across their pages. Through it, a huge Chicago warehouse offers to modernize the farms and small towns of the Midwest.
We notice Boyville/Girlsville clothing offered in the 1920s and 30s. This was not as prominately featured as the Pilgrim brand, but it was a label especially focused on children clothes. The items were primarily outerwear, items like suits and jackets for boys and dresses for girls. This differed from Pilgrim which while not limited to underwear and hosiery, was primarily associated with these garments, at least for children. A reader adds, "Boyville was a brandname used for lower priced clothing, sold at discount prices. Pigrim was more top of the line. Sears of course used both." While the Boyville line seems to have focused on outerwear, we do also notice some Boyville hosiery.
The leather bomber jacket is based on a World War II style for American aviators involved in the air war over northern Europe. The aviators needed a warm garment, but one that was not long and cumbersome. The result was the short leather jacket which became known as the bomber jacket. We have also noted references to a "flight" jacket. It proved very popular with boys after the war, especially in America. It has come to be more commonly referred to as just a leather jacket.
"I thought you might like to see some pictures of a jacket that I wore as a kid in the very early 60's. I was born in London but my dad was in the US Navy (mum's English) and we were stationed to Norfolk, VA in the late 50's and the jacket was bought then from the local Sears Roebuck. The jacket was passed on to my cousins and eventually came back to me about 15 years ago. The sleeves originally had elasticated cuffs to match the waist-band but they disintegrated long ago. There's a new zip as well, but everything else is original. The label reads "Boyville - Sears Roebuck and Co. USA" The little tag under the label reads "Genuine STEERHIDE." It measures 14" from the collar to the bottom of the waistband, 12.5" across the shoulders, sleeve length is 12". And I've also included a picture of me wearing it in 1961."
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