Underwear Manufacturers


Figure 1.--Quite a number of companies specialized in underwear or had important lines of inderwear. Carter's was an important American manufacturer. Briefs had by the 1940s become the primary underwear pants worn by American boys. Carters was one of the principal American companies mabufacturing wunderwear. This ad follows the favored father-son formula with the boy wearing a junior version of his Dadís underwear--a knitted sleeveless undershirt with cotton briefs.

HBC has begun to develop information on the companies manufacturing and marketing underwear. Here the situation is somewhat complicated by the fact that companies had a variety of brands and major retailers like Sears have marketed house or store brands. Several companies have specialized in underwear. We have included support garments like stocking supporters and under waists in the underwear category. Many countries have companies that have focused on underwear, both in their own country and foreign markets. Much of our infornation at this time comes from the United States. The principal companies in America are today Haines and Fruit of the Loom. Haines has been given considerable visibility as a result of television ads featuring basketball star Michael Jordan. There have been several other American companies we have noted in the early 20th century. We have less information on the 19th century. The advertisement here is from the Minnesota Kniting Company (figure 1). We do not yet have detailed information on foreign companies.

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BVD (United States

BVD is a major brand of underwear in the United States. We have only limited historical information on the company at this time. The B.V.D. brand of underwear became so famous in the United States during the 1920s and 1930s that "BVDs" after a time became the standard word for any one-piece summer underwear in the same way that "Frigidaire" became synomymous with any refrigerator or "Hoover" with any vaccum cleaner. An early BVD ad appeared in The Youth's Companion (1922). A British reader evacuated to America during World War II writes, "When I was first in America my host family always referred to my brother's and my underwear as BVD's. I never knew what this meant for several years. I then learned they were the initials of the company that made underwear. I am not sure whether they made children's underwear or just men's trunks and briefs."

Balbriggan Underware (Ireland)

Balbriggan underware was made by Smyth & Co. Balbriggan Co. near Dublin, Ireland. Balbriggan is a small seaside town just north of Dublin City made famous by the manufacture of this underware. The name became a noun for men's underware in the United States during the 19th century, This was because of its inclusion in the Sears Catalogue and a contract with the U.S Army.

Bee Waists (United States)

The Bee Waists (1894 on HBC) was a major brand during the 1890s. A good example is a 1894 advertisement which looks like a bnewspaper advertisement. Bee was a brand name. We do not yet know who the manufscturer was.

Best & Co (United Sttes)

Rugby Waists were a brand sold exclusively at Best & Co, 60-62 W. 23rd St, New York City. This was a department store. They did not actually manufacture the waists. We do not know at this time what manufacturer they contracted with to produce Rugby Waists. HBC has archived a 1903 advertisement for Rugby Waists from The Youth's Companion.

Bevoise Waist Company (United States)

H & W waists (1896, 1914 on HBC) were a major brand and widely advertised during the 1890s-1910s. We at first thought thst the company was H & W, but this was a brandname. The manufacturers were the Bevoise Waist Company, Flushing, New York. We know little about the H & W company at this time. It appears to have been primarily a corset maker. We have noted an ad for corsets date 1906. We have noted other ads which inclluded children's underwaists and stocking supporters that look to be from the 1890s. We do not notice any ads for the company after the 1910s when children's underwaists were very commonly advertised. We note advertisements from a 1896 newspaper, a 1913 magazine (Delineator), and a 1914 magazine (Ladies Home Journal).

Brown Durrel Company (United States)

This is not a compasny that we know anything about at this time. We do note a 1923 magazine advertisement. The company's brand name was Forest Mills Underwear and Gordon Hosiery. There were offices in New York and Boston.

(George N.) Buck Manufacturing (United States)

Feelswell Waists were made by George N. Buck Manufacturing, Matoon, Illinois. We note an ad in the The Ladies Home Journal (July 1895, page 21). This company may have been the forerunner of the Kern Manufacturing Co since it is also in Mattoon (a very small town). We notice an ad in the for Buck's Feel Good Waists during 1895. The company claimed it was superior to other waists on the market at the time. It was an upmarket ad aimed to an educated, affluent clintelle. We also notice newspaper ads pitched to the average mother. An example is an ad in the Waterloo Daily Courier of Waterloo, Iowa (October 8, 1896, page 5). There is no illustration of the waist, only a text which does not go into nearly as much detail as the Journal ad. The waist seems to have been sold by a private individual named Miss J. Handsacker living at 183 Bridge Street. This may have been a small private shop, since a "Notions department" is mentioned. Or perhaps it was just where Miss Handsacker lived and made extra money by selling such products on commission. We suspect that the Buck Company that manufactured the waist in Mattoon, Illinois, contracted with small independent stores to market the waist. It doesn't seem to have been carried by chain stores or larger department stores. Here is the ad copy text: "The "Feels Well" Waist and Hose Supporter with the "Keystone" clasp [on the supporters], for children, is the best thing of the kind ever conceived. Besides supporting the hose, it is a perfect shoulder brace of inestimable value to growing children. Ask to see it and have the points of excellence explained. Notions department. Miss J Handsacker, 183 Bridge Street."

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Carter's (United Statres)

Carters was an important American manufacrurwe of unbderwear. We have only limited information on the company. We notice ads for boy's briefs in the 1940s. Here we see a Carter's ad for briefs in 1948 (figure 1). We are not sure when the company began making underwear. Carter's is still an active company, but we think of it as mopre of a company making infantwear. We notice a lot of advertisements for Carter's infant and toddler clothes. We still notice advertisements for Carter's underwear. We note Penney's handles Carter's underwear, but it appears to be toddler and chikldren's underwear.

Chalmers (United States)

The manufacturer of the brand "Porosknit" underwear is Chalmers. We note their ads in the mid 1910s. An example is a Literary Digest ad in 1917. The company made shirts and knee-length drawers. We do not yet have much information on this company. The firm is the Chalmers Knitting Co. of Amsterdam, New York. They also made "Spring Needle Ribbed Underwear for Winter. All of the available information is from the 1910s. The full page ads that we have noted suggest that Chalmers was a substantial company.

Cherub (United Kingdom)

A British reader writes, "I remember my mother bought us Cherub underwear before World War II. I don't recall the brand after the War, but by that time I wasca teebnager." Another British reader writes, "The Yorkshire firm that made the underwear my grandmother bought us in the 1960s. It was called "Cherub" - or that may have been a brand name - again I don't recall that in London - why it stuck out. The Cherub company ws founded by Alan Arthur Foister. He was the son of Charles Foisterwho owned a sock factory at Thurmaston. His grandson was 'bag hosier' Thomas. Arthur's wife provided a £300 loan which enabled her husband to set up his own business. He founded Arthur Foister Ltd (1903). The first site was on Morledge Street. The second site was St. James Streetin Leicester. He changed the name of the company to Arthur Foister & Sons Ltd (1928). Arthur's berother Maurice was also active in business. He founded the the sucessful hosiery and knitwear manufacturing company, Foister, Clay & Ward. The company supplied the chain stores that were expanding at the time. Arthur Foister moved again to an imosing factory on Charles Street. The company had a wide range of products Although they made some adult clothing, the company's product line was primarily children's clothing.

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Daisy

Here we have some questions. We note references to Daisy waists and suspender stocking supporters. Presumably Daisy was a brand name. We note references in the 1890s, although the the company may have operated ealier. We do not, however, have any information about the company that manufactured them. The Daisy brand continues to be used through the 1930s.

Dockers (United States)

Docker's is an American manufacturing producing a wide range of men's clothing. Underwear is part of their product line.

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E-Z Mills (United States)

An advertisement for E-Z Waist Suits in Parents' Magazine [October, 1930, p. 72.] Note that the girl's suit is sleeveless while the boy's suit has short sleeves. I believe, however, that both styles are for either boys or girls. These suits appear to have no reinforcement straps and are therefore, strictly speaking, untaped union suits rather than waist union suits. See the Hanes advertisement in the Parents' Magazine group, which gives options for both waist union suits with strap reinforcements and untaped union suits. We notice EZ Mills ads into the 1950s.

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Ferris Brothers Company (United States)

The Ferris Brothers Co. made corsets, corset waists, and other waists during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in America. Their main headquarters was in New York City but they also had a branch in San Francisco. We know nothing about the actual brothers at this time. The company were noted for introducing a brand of children's and women's waists called Ferris Good Sense Waists which became a brand name. These waists were considered healthier and more progressive than the traditional waists for girls and young women because they did not cinch in the waistline too tightly and, for the most part, they abandoned the custom of using whale bone or steel stays that actually did harm to developing bodies. The models for girls and women show some indentation but it was much less radical than what people had been used to. A woman called Emma Thompson is said to have invented a model of corset waist which the Ferris Brothers adopted, manufactured, and advertised. The fact that bone and steel stays were avoided, which boys would never have worn, made it possible for the Ferris Good Sense Waist to be designed in a model specifically for boys. This waist had short elastic straps with buttonholes for the attachment of button-on knee pants plus the customary tabs at the sides for supporters so that long stockings could be worn. The company advertised heavily in period magazines.

(George) Frost Company (United States)

George A. Frost for whom the company was named was born in 1857 in Massachusetts to parents, George and Almira Frost, who came respectively from Connecticut and Maine. The family lived in Newton, Mass. by 1870. By 1880 the family lived 310 Highland Street, Newton, and George, the oldest son, was working for his father's business that specialized in "ladies furnishings." George's father was a dry goods merchant. Records indicate that the family business was called the George Frost and Company, founded by the elder George Frost, and taken over by his son, George the younger, at some point in the late 1880s. The firm was located on Devonshire Street in downtown Boston, although the store was damaged by fire in 1876 and it is not clear whether the location changed after the fire. Two of its most famous products were the "Boston Garter," a supporter for men and for older boys' calf-length socks, and pin-on supporters for children's and women's long stockings. Velvet Grip hose supporters were made by the George Frost Company which was located in Boston. We do note a Velvet Grip advertisement in 1911.

Fruit of the Loom (United States)

The principal companies in America are today Haines and Fruit of the Loom. We have few details on the company's history. They apparently was founded before the Civil War about 1850. I'm not sure what the original name of the companby was. Fruit of the Loom's principal activities are to design, manufacture and distribute men's and boys' underwear, activewear for the screenprint T-shirt and fleece market, women's and girls' underwear, casualwear, women's jeanswear and childrenswear and licensed sports apparel. The Group's products are generally sold to major discount chains, mass merchandisers and large wholesalers. The Group operates in the United States, Western Europe and Central America. The brand is ione of the most adveryized underwear companies. The company's outerwear products were marketed under the "Pro Player" brand. Fruit of the Loom introduced Underoos (1978). Until the 1990s, much of the manufacturing was done in the United States. The company was based in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and several of the factories were in that state. The company was unable to compete with competitors who marketed cheaper imported products, The comany was fiorced into barkruptsy (2000). The company was purchased by Berkshire Hathaway Corporation, guided by by famed investor Warren Buffett, who saw value in the Fruit of the Loom brand. The company also controls another notable American underwear brand, B.V.D. (Bradley, Voorhies, and Day).

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(P.H.) Hanes Knitting Company (United States)

The P.H. Hanes Knitting Company was one of the principal makers of men and boys' union suits. The Hanes Knitting Company was located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, but the Hanes brand was widely advertised all over America and sold in most local shops and department stores. We are unsure when the company was founded, but we note magazine adverts in the 1920s. One of the first is a 1922 ad in Good Housekeeping. We note more ads in the 1930s. The principal underwear companies in America by the late 20th century were Haines and Fruit of the Loom. Hanes has been given considerable visibility as a result of television ads featuring basketball star Michael Jordan.

Harman & Chadwick (United States)

Harman & Chadwick manufactured Double Ve Waists, They offered a range of products, including both women's corsets and chuildren's waists and stocking supporters. The company was located in New Haven, Connecticut. We also notice a reference to the C.N.Chadwick Company, Fourth Ave & Baltic Brooklyn, New York so bthere must have been some corporate reorganizations. We note advertisements during the 1890s and 1900s. HBC has archived a 1886 advertisement. We are not sure what publication it was placed. There was also a June 1904 Ladies Home Journal ad for the company.

Harris Suspender Co. (United States)

The Kazoo Suspender Waist was made by the Harris Suspender Co., New York. The purpose of a suspender waist was to hold up long stockings. We are unsure where the idea for the Kazoo brand name came from. A kazoo is a type child's mouth organ, but were are not sure if it came before or after the Kazoo suspender waist brand. An example is a Kazoo suspender waist 1916 advertisement. The corporate history of the Harris Suspender Co. is complicated. It was founded as the Wire Buckle Suspender Co. consisting of William Silverman, Charles R. Harris, Joseph E. Austrian, and William Freeman in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. in the 1890s. Harris was also involved in the Cygnet Cycle Co. manufacturing bicycles in Williamsport around the same time. In 1897 the suspender manufacturing company moved to New York as the Harris Suspender Co. manufacturing suspenders, braces and garters at 142 W. 14th St. Interestingly, although Harris lent his name to the enterprise, principals included Joseph E. Austrian and William Freeman but not Harris himself. Harris Suspender stayed for a protracted time on 14th St. (until around 1912). During this time the officers consisted of William Freeman, Edwin M. Silvermann, and Harry W. Silvermann (Joseph E. Austrian seems to have dropped out early on) until 1910. As of Feb. 5, 1910 this partnership was dissolved, and the two Silvermanns took control of the company. The company relocated to 694 Broadway (1912) and then 1230 Broadway (1921). Then in 1924 they seem to have closed down, only to re-surface in 1936 at 368 W. 148th St. In fact, there may be no connection between the Harris Suspender Co. of 1936 with the earlier firm that moved from Williamsport. They may have been totally unrelated enterprises, sharing the same name. This new version of the company moved to 50 W. 29th St. in 1938 and stayed until 1942. Like the earlier version, they then moved to two Broadway locations, with remarkably similiar addresses: 644 Broadway (1942) and 1239 Broadway (1946). This second version of Harris Suspender went out of business around 1948.

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Jockey (United States)

One of the best known brands of underwear in the United States is Jockey. Jockey International continues to be a privately held company, headquartered in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The company employs over 5,000 people around the world. Jockey International, Inc. was founded in 1876 by Samuel T. Cooper, a retired minister who wanted to help lumberjacks suffering from blisters and infections caused by their shoddy wool socks. Consumers learned they could trust him, and his tiny hosiery business grew and then expanded into underwear. Brief underpants are called jockey shorts. I am not sure if this was because the garment was created by Jockey. Even though the company was created in 1876, we do not note Jockey ads in the early 20th century. We are not sure when the company first introduced the Jockey brand.

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Kabo Manufacturing

This firm is the Kabo Corset Company, which had outlets in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. We do not know much about the company at this time. Children's garters seem to have been a side line. The business seems to have been primarily focused on ladies corsets, but they made a Kabo garters which were widely advertised for boys and girls and also worn by them--often for school children of both sexes. We have found numerous ads for these supporters in American newspapers during the 1910s. We don't have an actual illustration of the garters themselves, but they were undoubtedly similar to other prominent brands such as Hickory, Velvet Grip, Kerns, Athleta, etc. I'm not sure whether they made garter waists. I think they mainly made elastic pin-on supporters (in black or white) for attachment to underwaists. They also made sew-on supporters for women's undergarments.

Kazoo (United States)

Kazoo Suspender Waists were one of the most popular brands of suspender waists in America during the early-20th century. We are unsure about the corporate hustory of the manufacturer. The manufacturer was apparently at first the Kazoo Suspender Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Kazoo either was taken over by or changed their name to the Harris Suspender Company located in New York. We discuss Harris above. The limited information available suggests Harris purchased Kazoo some time in the early 1910s. Precise details on the manufacturer/destributor are not yet available. HBC has archived several advertisements, including 1905, 1916, 1918, 1920, and elsewhere. Ther ads were placed in major popular magazines.

(Frank) Kern Manufacturing Comany

HBC has archived quite a few advertisements during the period from 1937 to 1945 for garter waists sold by Sears and Roebuck. Most of these models are labled as "Kern's Dandy," "Kern's Daisy," "Kern's Button-on Sateen Waist," or simply "Kern's Garter Waist" or "Kern's Child's Waist." I have now discovered where the name "Kern's" comes from. This name refers to the Frank Kern Manufacturing Comany of Mattoon, Illinois, which specialized in making boys' and girls' hose supporters. The company goes back to at least 1914 in Mattoon, Illinois. About 1931 the company was bought out by two Neoga business men, Trace Higgins and Harry Hill. Neoga is a nearby town in Illinois. In 1942 the company went into backruptcy, and a Mrs. Oakley of Neoga, who had long been an employee of the company, became the receiver. After the company was sold again, Mrs. Oakley remained the manager of the Frank Kern Manufacturing Co and entered into an arrangement with A. Stein & Co. of Chicago (who made Hickory Garters, a related product) for the Kern Co. to do work on contract for Stein & Co. So Hickory Garters and Kern's Garter Waists are historically related products.

Knothe Brothers (United States)

Samson Waists are very often referred to on HBC. They were manufactured by Knothe Brothers, 122-124 Fifth Ave, New York City. We do not know much about the corporate history. HBC has archived examples in 1887, 1893, 1901, 1919, and 1923.

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Lad An' Lass Manufacturing Company (United States)

The Lad An' Lass Manufacturing Company of Elyria, Ohio was an American underwear manufacturing company. They advertised in local newspapers. One example was The Chronicle Telegram (September 10, 1921), page 7, as "Makers of underwaists and garters for girls and boys". The local agent for the company was a woman called Jean Josseyln, who not only sold new underwaists and supporters but repaired them also. On the same page, we have a personal ad: "Garter pins break or stick? Call Jean Josseyln." I have never before come across an ad for the repair of hose supporters because they were usually fairly cheap and disposable items. Children's supporters for underwaists often sold for as little as 9 or 10 cents a pair around 1903. By 1921, they usually cost no more than 25 cents a pair. But if mothers were bothered by safety pins on their children's supporters that broke or got stuck in the closed position (and therefore couldn't be removed), they could call Jean Josseyln, who would fix the broken pin or, more likely, attach a new one. We note that one of the advertising features of the Hickory brand of hose supporters, advertised during the same year, was the claim that the safety pin at the top "won't bend or break". A 1921 ad for Hickory supporters made a bid deal of the unbreakability of the safety pin.

Lay and Way Copmpany (United States)

Ideal Waists were manufactured by the Lay and Way Copmpany, 54 Bleeker St., New York City. We note an example in 1904 and 1915.

Little Beauty (United States)

Little Beauty is the brand name of the waists pictured here. We see many mentions of this brand in newspaper advertisements during the 1900s and 1910s. The brand seems to have died out by the late 1920s. The suspender waist is very much like the Dr. Parker Waist, although the Dr. Parker waist came with the supporters already attached. This brand had waists for both boys and girls. We are not sure about the actual name of the manufacturer. We note a store offering Little Beauty waists in 1907.

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McKay's Common Sense Waists (United States)

McKay's Common Sense Waists was an important brand name, but we don't know manufacturer. But it was probably McKay's Underwear or Corset Co, or some such name. We note a 1904 Siegel Cooper advertisement in the Youth Compsnion .

Minneapolis Knitting Works (United States)

The Minneapolis Kinitting Works after World War I developed new styles of underwar for children. An ad in Parents' Magazine read, "Minneapolis "M" garments are universally accepted as the correct underdressing in juvenile styles. The fashionable French Type (short trunk) garments illustrated above are made for both boys and girls in all popular fabrics." The advertisement appeared in Parents Magazine during September, 1930, p. 45. This Minneapolis Knitting Works advertisement, timed obviously for mothers who were shopping for their school children at the beginning of the school year, advertises principally waists suits. The ad shows a wide range of underwear garments.

Munsingwear (United States)

Musingwear was an important American manufacturer of underwear. The company was based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was a designer, importer, manufacturer, marketer, and licenser of branded apparel for men, boys, and women. The company was for many years best known for its union suits, an undergarment consisting of an undershirt and underdrawers combined in a single garment. The company is alsobelieved to be the creator of the classic golf shirt. Munsingwear was founded by George D. Munsing, Frank H. Page, and Edward O. Tuttle (1886). The partnership initially manufactured knit underwear for both men and women. The initial name when incorporated was the as Northwestern Knitting Company (1887). The compsny name was changed to Munsingwear Corporation (1919) and Munsingwear, Inc. 1923). We note many comany ads in the 1910s-30s). Munsingwear in 1936 introduced the 'kangeroo pouch' underwear which used a horizontal vent rather than the vertical vent intoduced by Jockey. The company acquired several smaller companies: Rollins Hosiery Mills, Inc. (Des Moines, Iowa) (1945); the Vassar Company (Chicago, Illinois (1951); and the Hollywood Maxwell Company (California) (1958). The company in consisted of two divisions, one for men and the other for women. The men's division used the Munsingwear name and included the Grand Slam, Slammer USA, Cotton Classics, and Kangaroo lines of sport shirts and underwear. There was also sleepwear, underwear, and "rugged" sportswear marketed under the revived Northwestern Knitting Company name. The women's or intimate apparel division was marketed under the Vassarette Label and included brassieres, girdles, garter belts, camisoles, petticoats, full slips, teddies, tap or French pants, panties, body briefers, robes, gowns, and pajamas. Munsingwear was acquired in 1996 by Supreme International, a Miami, Florida-based supplier of men's and boys' casual apparel (1996).

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Nazareth Waist Co. (United States)

We notice the Nazareth Waist Company active in the 1920s. We have some basic information on the company. It was founded by Gustav Adpolphus Schneebeli (1853-1923), a German immigrant, born in Neusalz, Germany, who settled with his parents in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and attended the Moravian Parochial School in Bethlehem. Schneebeli moved to Nazareth in the 1880s and founded the Nazareth Waist Co., a knit-goods firm that specialized in children's underwear. Later he established a lace manufacturing company of which he became the sole owner (1888). He was elected to the U. S. Congress as a Republican representative from Pennsylvania (1905), but served only a single term . He died in Nazareth, Northampton County, Pa., February 6, 1923, and was buried in the Moravian cemetery there. The Nazareth Waist Co. founded in the 1880s became a very prominent manufacturer of children's waist suits, and indeed the term "Nazareth Waist" became a household word throughout the nation. The company had offices in New York City and mills in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. The company appears to have concentrated on children's underwear. We note promotional literature for children's underwear in 1920. We also notice waist suits they offered. We do not know if they offered any other items. An example of a Nazareth ad can be found in a 1929 issue of Parents. They often advertized in magazines like Parents. The company's producr line seems very similar to E-Z Mills which also made waist suits at te same time.

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Pearl

Pearl Waists were widely sold all over the United States from about 1907 to 1932. The company seems to have been a casualty of the Deporession. The manufacturer is never mentioned in any of the ads, unfortunately, but they were widely distributed throughout the country. We also learn that by 1914 the company also manufactured Pearl Waist Union Suits (sold at 50 cents). These union suits seem to had all the features of the Pearl waist (i.e., reinforcement straps, waist buttons, and pin tubes for supporters). We note Pearl ads in 1907 and 1911.

Petit Bateau (France)

Petit Bateau was a French company producing children clothes. It would be translated "Little Boat". The bottom line of the ad reads, "Cu;lotte 'Petit Bateau' pour bien habiller les enfants." I think that translates as, "Petit Bateau short pants for dressing children well." Petit Bateau "underwear is the most important French Brand . It was a widely recognized brand since the early 1900s. It is very highly regarded and the company's underwear garments served as basic styles copied by other companies and became standard styles. Since 1936 , practically all French children living in cities wore " culotte Petit Bateau ". The Petit Bateau underwear were for both boys and girls even in 1900.

Pioneer

This ad for a boy's suspender and garter combination probably qualifies as a suspender waist. The main brands for this kind of product during the 1910s and 1920s were the Samson Suspender Waist and the Kazoo Suspender Waist, both of which are already noticed on HBC. This garment was made by the Pioneer Suspender Company of Philadelphia. They made Pioneer Suspenders and Belts for men and Brighton Garters for men. It does not seem to been very competitive with its rivals, Samson and Kazoo, but an illustration and description appeared in a trade magazine called The Boy's Outfitter, published in 1919. This was a magazine that catered to haberdashers and retailers of boys' clothing. The garment consists of white elastic suspenders with adjustable buckles for size adjustment which end in buttons that fasten to button-holes on short trousers or knickers. There are four non-elastic tape extension straps(two in front and two in back towards the sides) with rubber button and metal loop hose supporter clasps for the boy's long stockings. It is essentially a garter waist with no belt and suspender attachments for trousers in front and in back.

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R & J Waist Co. (United States)

R & J Waists were made in Bridgeport, Conneticut. We also notice an office in New London. This is a company for which we have been able to find very little information. The comapny snd brand was the sane name--R&J. We notice some newspaper advertisements during the 1920s. We note them being sold through big chain stores like Grant's and Sears. The Grant's was a dime store meaning a kind of low-cost department store. An adverisement offered a kind of deparment store with relatively lowe-cost items. The ad offered a 'waist and hose supporter' for boys and girls. This seam to mean a combinsation gsrment with both waist buttons and straps extending down for hose supporters.

Roots (United States)

Roots was aa imortant manufacturer of children's underwear in the early 20th century. The company was located in New York. The copy in a Root's ad read, "Root's Underwear is a comfort and a luxury at reasonable price. Made only from the best of the world's materials by the best American skill. No dye-stuffs. It is the perfect underclothing for the health of your children. It is made in different weights and to fit all sizes of people, from babies to giants. Sold by principal dealers in New York and all large cities. If not by yours, write to Root's Underwear, 1 Greene St., New York."

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Sexton Manufacturing Co. (United States)

Sexton Manufacturing Co was a major manufacture of underwear in the United States. The company was locted in Fairfield, Illinois. The Sexton Manufacturing Co. was locted in Fairfield, Illinois. The company was founded by George C. Sexton from St. Louis who took over the Woolen Mills in Fairfield, Illinois, in 1907. The remodled mill made blue shirts and overalls, i.e., men's and boys' work clothes. In 1909 the company was in financial trouble, but was saved from ruin by Mr. Sexton's brother-in-law, H. G. Ferguson. At this point the Sexton Company began making men's athletic underwear. By 1917 the business was booming. In one week during World War I the company produced 150,000 pairs of underwear for the War Department. The Sexton boys' waist suits, advertised in 1921, were a boys' version of men's athletic nainsook union suits widely sold by the Sexton Co., but the boys' version featured reinforcement straps, waist buttons for fastening on short trousers, and special tabs for supporters that allowed the garters to be worn either inside or outside the underwear (a feature similar to that of Alheneeds made by Sprague). Almost universally, boys in 1921 needed provision for long stockings. In 1935 Mr. Ferguson sold stock to workers and local people in Fairfield, Illinois. Then the factory went out of business and most of the investors lost their money. The Sexton company provided employment and company-built housing for many people in Fairfield, Illinois, and was a major factor in the growth of the town. Sexton summer underwear (mostly union suits and waist union suits) was widely worn by men and boys throughout the United States for about 25 years (1910-35). Sexton often advertized in Goodhousekeeping Magazine. A good example is an 1921 advertisement.

Sigsbee Manufacturing Company (United States)

Sigsbee Waists were manufactured by the Sigsbee Manufacturing Co, Ayer, Massachusettes. The waist was patentented in 1890 and we note an 1891 advertisement.

Spencer & Co

Spencer & Co. was a manufacturer of corsets. We do not know much about the company. The appear to have also made back supports for children.

Spiral Manufacturing Co.

The Spiral Manufacturing Co. was located at 1150 Burdick Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan. The firm manufactured the Wolverine Suspender waists. We note a Wloverine ad in 1904. A few years later Spiral changed the name to the Kazoo Suspender Waists whicvh was distribruted by the Harris Suspender Company. We are not sure that it was Spriral that actually changed the name to Kazoo, although that is possible. It could have been that the company was sold and that the new owner renamed the product Kazoo (which we think is almost certainly a shortened form of Kalamazoo, the town where the suspender waists were manufactured). Or possibly the Harris Suspender Company simply bought out Spiral and changed the name to Kazoo.

(Frederick H.) Sprague Co.

This little boy's summer waist union suit was made by the Frederick H. Sprague Co. and manufactured in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. The company's brand is called "Allheneeds". The company also had similar "Allsheneeds" for girls. We note other ads for Allheneeds, suh as a 1915 ad. We also notice a 1917 ad.

Stafford (United States)

This is an American manufacurer of underwear currently opetating. We know nothing about the company at this time.

(A.) Stein (United States)

The Stein Co. made Hickory Garters. Hickory Garters were widely used by American children to hold up their long stockings. Hickory was a national brand name. They were sold all over the country in various stores and were widely advertised in magazines. They advertized extensively in Parents' Magazine. The fact that they were also sold by Sears doesn't rule them out.

(L.) Stein (United States)

Before A. Stein and his brothers established the firm for making the well-known Paris garters and Hickory hose supporters in Chicago, another Stein brother, Lewis Stein, had already set up the "Lewis Stein Company" in New York City. Lewis Stein was also in the hose supporter business, and an advertisement for his supporters had already appeared in The Youth's Companion (1885).

(W. H.) Symington (England)

The H. Symington Company played an important role in the history of corsetry. There seems to be a relationship with the R. & W. Market Harborough company, but I am not sure what it was. The Symington Company manufactured corsets. The company began to make corsets inthe 1850s. Corsets were a very important garment in the 19th century. Their corsets were for fashionable Victorian ladies who wanted a narrow waist. They were also a support garment for holding up stockings. The company was quite successful and even sold overseas. One of its most noticeable proucts was the Liberty Bodice, a product produced for about 70 years. The Liberty Nodice was similar to the waist suits that American children wore. They were designed as support gaments, but some were advertised as being benefical for posture. As corsets began to be worn less in the 20th century. The company turned to swimwear.

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Warner Brothers (United States)

We note an interesting illustrated catalogue from Warner Brothers, the largest manufacturer of corsets in America in the 1880s and, according to their claim, the largest in the entire world. They exported corsets to England, Belgium, Germany, and other countries as well. Their headquarters was at 359 Broadway in New York and 257-259 State Street in Chicago. They also made underwear for men, women and children featuring "camel's hair" (for warmth obviously). hey were very much into the production of "health underwear" for the entire family. The catalogue seems to be designed for retailers because they sell their products in dozens and in larger quantitites. The name of the firm seems to be named after a "Dr. Warner" whose credentials as an expert on health seem to have been promoted by the company. Their factory was located at Bridgeport, Connecticut, and they employed 1,200 workers and produced 7,000 corsets daily. Like several other corset companies, they also made stocking suporters for children.

Brand Name Confussion

The proliferation of companies is quite confusing and hard to remember. One of the problems is that the name of the product doesn't always coincide with the manufacturer. Thus the "Wilson corset waist" was manufactured, not by Wilson, but by Warner's. Similar to "Hickory" garters being manufactured by "Stein." This is one reason why HBC has gone into some detail in persuing the corporate history.






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Created: 1:06 AM 9/27/2004
Last updated: 7:43 PM 12/2/2013