Underwear Manufacturer: Musingwear

Figure 1.--Here we see a Musingwear company flot, probably sometime in the 1910s. (One source suggests 1911.) It shows what seems to be some kind of parade float with a group of what seems to be boy singers. A sign says, "Singers Clothes Shop". The company was best known for its union suits. A reader writes, "Notice that all the children seem to be wearing ankle-length union suits. But one boy wears a union suit with short sleeves, and the boy facing towards us in the center has a sleeveless union suit one (presumably for summer wear). This boy is also wearing black long stockings, the tops of which are visible. This suit is probably a waist suit with garter tabs (provision for attaching pin-on supporters). But it isn't clear from the photo whether he is actually wearing supporters, which may be white and therefore invisible in so small a photo."

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. It may have actually created the term. The union suit became a standard underwear item. The term union suit is America, other terms such as "combinations" were used in other countries. The company is also believed 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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Created: 9:40 PM 6/10/2009
Last updated: 7:24 PM 6/11/2009