Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Behind the Scenes of Marketing - 1956

I was thumbing through an issue of Glamour Magazine from 1956 when I came across a six page advertising spread that prominently featured the name Janet Norwood.  Hmmmmmm, never heard of a designer named Janet Norwood.  Who was she?

In looking closer at the ads, I notice that the clothes featured are by several different manufacturers including Donnybrook, Jerell Juniors, and Modecraft.  Hmmmmmm, does Janet Norwood design for many different companies?  No.  Is Janet Norwood the name of a store?  No. Each ad features a list of stores at the bottom where you could buy the featured fashions.


Time to dig deeper. In my search, I found several newspaper ads for stores that mention Janet Norwood with the symbol "Value Approved".  These ads include the wording "As seen in Seventeen" or Mademoiselle or Glamour.  Finally, I find the words above in a large newspaper ad for People's, a store in Wisconsin.  "Janet Norwood, famous merchandising expert."  Ah-hah! 

And in tiny letters at the bottom of the photos below is a line that says, "If your favorite store is not listed write:  Janet Norwood, c/o Steinberg-Kass, ... New York.  Who is Steinberg-Kass? Steinberg-Kass in New York was a buying group offering merchandising services to stores nationwide.  Steinberg-Kass would make recommendations to those stores based on fashion and color trends, and would sell the stores pre-selected merchandise pulled from the many clothing and accessory manufacturers they represented.  They would then back up those recommendations with advertisements in national magazines like those shown here today.  Smaller stores and chains would use buying offices like these if they could not afford a staff of buyers who would travel the country to purchase clothing for the stores.

Was there a real Janet Norwood?   Possibly.  If so, she was a glorified stylist who pulled clothing from the specific manufacturers that Steinberg-Kass represented and put together outfits for the fashion ads featured here.  Kind of like an early Rachel Zoe.


Left:  Jerell Juniors black silk/cotton blend dress with plaid bolero.  Sold for $25 in 1956 (about $208 in today's dollar.)
Right:  Jerell Juniors cotton plaid dress.  Sold for $25 in 1956 (about $208 in today's dollar.)

Left:  Donnybrook wool tweed coat reverses to waterproofed corduroy.  Sold for $50 in 1956 (about $416 in today's dollar.)
Right:  Donnybrook wool tweed clutch coat with plush collar.  Sold for $60 in 1956 (about $500 in today's dollar.)


Left:  Brownie's fur-blend sweater worn with Jackfin's matching wool flannel skirt.  Sold for $28 in 1956 (about $233 in today's dollar.)
Right:  Fairfield's Orlon sweater with tweed trim worn with Eton's wool tweed skirt.  Sold for $17 in 1956 (about $142 in today's dollar.)
These outfits show an example of how Steinberg-Kass would have two different manufacturers work together to make co-ordinates that could be sold together.


Left:  Modecraft chinchilla blend jacket.  Sold for $30 in 1956 (about $250 in today's dollar.)
Right:  Rojay's wool jersey blouse and skirt trimmed in knitted panels.  Sold for $14 in 1956 (about $117 in today's dollar.)


Left:  A. Davis wool tweed clutch coat.  Sold for $75 in 1956 (about $625 in today's dollar.)
Right:  A. Davis wool tweed slim coat.  Sold for $75 in 1956 (about $625 in today's dollar.)

2 comments:

Victoria said...

Love the plaids, love paisley too, a print my eye is just drawn to.

cat said...

really interesting to come across this! i am doing a fashion marketing degree and although i did a whole module on 'fashion through time' we learnt nothing of stylists etc through history.

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