The fine wool jersey dress has the most beautiful Monet-like print in blues, greens and a tiny bit of purple. It came all the way from the USA –Etsy. It was listed as a ‘vintage’ dress but when it arrived I discovered it was a ‘deadstock’ item.
Deadstock is the term that is used for an unused vintage item that has its original packaging (in the case of stockings etc) or original tags still in place (for garments). My little dress had the original shop sales ticket still stitched into the seam;The dress is a 1950’s style but could have been produced a little later, the seller wasn’t sure which was more likely. I was intrigued to find out who produced it (sometimes that can narrow down the era of production). So I searched for the makers label, it said it was made by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union;
I was a little confused by all these tags-as it looked like the dress was homemade on first inspection- the finishing was a little rough-looking, it didn’t look like it was made by professional machinists in a factory.
When I looked up the union’s history I discovered that it was started in the early 1900’s with the aim of ending the exploitation of garment factory workers. Union members manufactured garments in their homes and sold them under the union label receiving much better pay and conditions than their factory counterparts.
In the 1970’s, as the US market was inundated with cheaply made foreign clothes, the unions direction changed slightly. It waged a public campaign to raise awareness of itself and promote the benefit of paying a little more for products made in the USA. Union members were encouraged to get involved in public parades and even invited to write a song to head up the campaign! The winner was ‘Look for the Union Label’ song which was used in their radio ads and at rallies;
Look for the union label
When you are buying a coat, dress, or blouse,
Remember somewhere our union’s sewing
Our wages going to feed the kids and run the house,
We work hard, but who’s complaining?
Thanks to the ILGU, we’re paying our way,
So always look for the union label,
It says we’re able to make it in the USA!
via- Kheel Centre
Unfortunately all my investigatory work still didn’t answer the question of my dresses origin…I suspect it was produced in the early 60’s piece. I must say I do feel good about buying the dress from such a worthy cause- even if it was 50 years after it was made! It does sadden me that very few garments are made in the USA, or Australia for that matter, nowadays. The consumer demand for cheaper clothes has moved production to asia and I don’t think those poor women are receiving ‘union wages’ or working conditions.
I plan to wear this little gem for Easter Sunday- I’ll do a proper outfit post then.
Princess Pin Curls