The Cutting Edge of Men’s Style, Circa 1910

Catalog1Left: THE “TAFT” SACK. Our offer for men inclined to corpulency.

Right: THE TWO-BUTTON “COSMOPOLITAN” SACK. A clever style for men who know.

 

Catalog2Left: THE REGENT OVERCOAT.

Center: THE PLEATED ASTOR OVERCOAT. Cuffs will be made like the fashion plate unless otherwise ordered. 50c cents extra.

Right: THE ‘VANDERBILT MOTOR COAT

 

Catalog3Left: THE FOUR-BUTTON “MARATHON” SACK. A racy idea. Up-to-date and new.

Right: THE “KEYSTONE” SACK. A new departure in business clothes.

 

Catalog4Left: PRINCE ALBERT FROCK

Center: ONE-BUTTON CUTAWAY FROCK

Left: CLERICAL FROCK

 

Catalog5

With offices in Chicago, New York, London and Berlin, the International Tailoring Company may well have been the Ralph Lauren of 1910, a fashion empire at the forefront of men’s couture, using the latest marketing techniques to promote its brand. This catalog was the iPad app of its day, featuring dozens of actual fabric samples, copious illustrations and state of the art tinted photographs of New York actors; celebrity advertising in its infancy.

I discovered the catalog on one of my many antique expeditions in western New Jersey. It’s in remarkably good shape considering its age, and while it’s lovely to page through, with intact samples of dozens of fabrics, I may repurpose some of the illustrations as decorative artwork.

As you can see men’s style has definitely moved on, in design and in marketing. Photography had as yet made limited inroads in advertising. Illustration was king. Which led to some bizarre choices in the creation of the ideal male. They seemed to believe that small heads were sexy.

While most of the men look quite fit, the company did feature the “TAFT SACK. Our offer for men inclined to corpulency.” Taft was our most corpulent President, weighing in at over 300 pounds. Anorexia had not yet become the ideal.

Prices have taken an upward turn since then. International Tailoring offered a 100% wool suit, made to measure, for the princely sum of $18.

The illustrations are amusing, and the style of illustration charmingly dated. What better artwork to adorn the walls of a metrosexual’s man cave?

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