--Foremost authorities in New York agree with this Magazine's prophecy --Origin "at the top of the trade" assures a lasting fashion--Now ten percent of demand in
exclusive shops--Buyers for them because boys want them--Economy in cost as important as greater comfort--Progressive departments will secure a supply
THE prediction in the January Boys' Outfitter that straight knee paints, or "shorts," are the coming thing was received with genuine interest throughout the trade.
There was a feeling akin to satisfaction that the tiresome sameness which has characterized all clothing for boys from ten to fifteen years of age was at last going to be
ended, that something had happened to dispute the sway of the Norfolk suit with its many-pleated, belted jacket and bloomer-like trousers.
Plenty of evidence has come to hand since last month to substantiate the wisdom of the prophesy. The exclusive shops, where the demand for the "shorts" and the
plain-cut jacket that accompanies them has never ceased despite the popularity--perhaps we might say because of the popularity--of the Norfolk suit, are the first to
sense the turning of the tide in favor of the change. It is just as true in boys' as in men's clothing that the styles that last, that have any permanency at all about them,
come from the high-class shops and gradually filter through to the more popular-priced stores. The movement is from the top downward always, never from the
bottom upward. [Ed. note: This may have been true in he 1920s when mothers made the decisions, but less true when the boys decide.] Whenever an attempt is
made to go against this law of gravitation it has invariably petered out in from three to six months.
How this works out in practice is frequently seen. For instance when the photos of children of the upper class appear in the daily newspapers, they are scanned with
avidity by mothers of some means and the costumes depicted are copied for their own offspring. In the course of time they reach the ready-mades. Then when they
become very "popular" the clientele of the exclusive shops drops them. On the other hand. let something originate in the popular lines and it runs like wildfire for, say,
three months or so, and then it goes out, smothered by its own success, unless inayhap it contains something of real value, in which case that thing endures.
The distinction that inarks the fashionable from the popular cannot be reiterated too frequently. What is fashionable is not popular, and vice versa.
All of which, by the way, is meant to emphasize that the revival of the "shorts" is running true to the accepted form. Everything is auspicious tor its return to boyish
favor from a fashion viewpoint, but there are other considerations in itsfavor. The economy in material and manufacturing cost ought to be an inducement at the
present time of soaring prices and scarcity of goods. A pair of "shorts" requires about four inches less material on each leg than the knickerbocker with its loose,
baggy knees and the strap and band. Then too the "shorts" are not nearly so voluminous, making a saving in width as well as length. Fewer operations are required to
make the "shorts," representing an economy in manufacture. With the outlook for the Fall that prices will be twenty to thirty per cent higher, these are points that can
hardly be overlooked.
Opinions have been sought by The Boys' Outfitter from some of the leading authorities in our field, those in a position to know something about the trend of
fashions, and they are in agreement as to the coming again of the "shorts."
Mr. Charles J. Dunn, buyer of men's and boy's woolens for the Rogers Feet Company, New York, is one of the advocates of the new style. He has predicted that it
is about due. Mr. Dunn visited Europe several months ago and from what he observed there as well .is his observations in the Rogers Peet stores, where there is a
growing demand for straight knee pants, he is convinced the change is coming. As merchandising man for this big corporation he has every opportunity to keep in
touch with style tendencies and his word carries much weight. Mr. Charles M. Connolly, advertising manager for Chiett, Peabody & Company, Troy, N. Y., who
for seventeen years was editor of THE HABERDASHER, the authority on men's fashions, and who has ever been a close student of men's and boys' dress,
particularly the exclusive modes, declared that he is convinced the boys want this style for Summer wear especially. Mr. Connolly is peculiarly well fitted to speak on
this subject, for he has been a leader in the Boy Scouts, the Junior Naval Reserve, and other juvenile movements in and around Troy, but what is still more important
he was a member of the national committee of the Boy Scouts of America that adopted the present uniform of that organization and which has charge of any changes
that are suggested.
It is significant that in the selection of the Boy Scout trousers the choice was for "shorts" as giving the maximum of freedom for active boyhood. For play, they cannot
be outclassed, and many stores carry a complete stock of these straight trousers, in white and in khaki, which are known as "flappers" by some and as "trunks" by
others, not the same, however, as the very loose running trunks. When boys want to enjoy solid comfort in their bifurcated garments, say when they go camping, the
verdict is always unanimonsly in favor of "shorts."
Mr. C. W. Hendrickson, buyer for Wananiaker's, New York, is another advocate of "shorts." "I would like to see them come back," said Mr. Hendrickson.
"There's lots to be said in their favor. I speak from experience, for when I was a youngster I never wore anything else. It was only about fifteen years ago that the
knickerbockers came into style. I remember it quite well. I was in an Indianapolis store at the time and it was not an easy thing to supplant the 'shorts,' by the
knickers, for I believe it took all of five years to do it. Boys don't like to make a change and that's one reason why I think it may take some little time for 'shorts' to
come in again, but I should like to see it. I should like to sell them again. They are simple, they allow more freedom to the boy wearing them and, besides all that,
look at the amount of material that would b e saved just now when everybody is talking about the shortage of woolens!
"We have never wholly given up the straight knee pants, but still carry them in different styles, including khaki woolen suits from six to twelve years," said Mr.
Hendrickson, who sent an assistant to bring one of these suits. It proved to be a button-on suit, with a belt on the straight pants. He said that more of the short-pants
suits were coming in from England. There is always a demand for them at Wanamaker's froni boys who follow the English styles, and in all likelihood this demand will
be greatly accelerated now.
Mr. John H. Conlin, in charge of the boys' clothing department at Brooks Brothers. New York, said there has always been a steady demand for the "shorts" from
their exclusive clientele. At present it amounts to about ten per cent of the whole, which would indicate that there are a considerable number of boys of the wealthy
class who wear the straight pants, and who have continued to do so right along. The "shorts" at Brooks Brothers are looked upon as an important part of the
business and Mr. Conlin pointed to a figure atop one of the show cases which might have been a duplicate of the fashion figure shown in these pages last month; the
suit was a grey mixture and with it went the turned-down hose.
Mr. T. H. Happoldt, boys' clothing manager at A. De-Pinna Company, Inc., New York, reported that their business in "shorts" also constituted about ten per cent of
the whole volume in trousers. This is another of the verv exclusive shops that specializes as "outfitters to young people." "The 'shorts' have their good points and may
come back," declared Mr. Happoldt, although he added somewhat para-doxically that this style had never really gone out. "There has always been a continuous
demand for them and and in all likelihood this will increase from now on. It is a good style having distinct merits that recommend it to bovs of good taste."
At Franklin Simon & Company's. New York, Mr Mendoza, who as assistant to Mr. Eddis N. Miller, has charge of the boys' wear, said: "The shorts may come
back as all fashions seem to travel in a circle, but for the next ^year or so I foresee no decided change, knickerbockers seem so firmly intrenched in public favor."
The demand for this style is only occasional at Franklin Simon's just now.
At Best's, Altman's and some of the other high-class metropolitan department stores, the same report was secured from the buyers. All these stores are selling
straight knee pants in their junior Norfolks, middies and other suits for boys up to ten years of age, but from that point on the prinicipal demand is for the knickers.
Every store, however finds itself confronted with the problem of supplying the "shorts" for those mothers and their sons who like this style and who will take their
patronage elsewhere if they cannot be suited.
It seems as if many of the stores were overlooking wonderful opportunity by not catering to and developing this trade. Families coming to America from England and
France or other continental European countries always want their boys to be outfitted with "shorts." This is sufficent: (Concluded on page 37) [continuation missing]
Source: The Boys' Outfitter during the early 1920s
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