The last of my charity shop zipper haul from the other day. These are closed ended, useful for short openings on skirts, or (more commonly for menswear) for pocket closures. These are all British, and all date from the 1940s or 50s. All the major British zipper brands except Lightning are represented – Aero, Dot, Flash and Tefas, along with the mysterious “Made in England” branded one last, below.
I’m fascinated by the links between various zipper companies back in the day. If you look at American Talon and Canadian Lightning zippers, the similarities in sliders and stopper boxes are evident. I see similar trends in European zippers. Take a glance at the two examples below. First (green tape) is a British Lightning, from the 1940s. Second is a German ZIPP brand zipper, and the DRP (Deutscher ReichsPatent) Nürnberg stamping suggests it was produced before the fall of the Nazis in the middle 40s. Now, look at the stopper boxes. Identical! Lightning zippers in the UK were made by Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) Ltd. ZIPP zippers were made by ZIPP Werk GmbH in Nuremberg, who are one of the companies that was cited post-war for using forced labour in their factory. They were later taken over by Opti, who I believe use the ZIPP brand to this day.
So how did they get to use the Lightning stopper box? Outright copying, or did ICI have a business relationship with ZIPP Werk GmbH? I’ll add another zipper below later – a Spanish one, branded Rélampago (Spanish for Lightning) from a 1930s military leather jacket.
I always keep a lookout for vintage zippers to use in the jackets I make. I don’t like taking clothes apart to harvest the zippers, so I’m always happy when I stumble on a charity shop with a big box of zippers and buttons, etc. I came across such a haul last week. I got a bunch of separating zippers, and another pile of non-separating. Here are the separating ones, all god old British brands. Most of these seem to be from the 40s or early 50s. They’re all good lengths for jacket closure. The last picture is of a few Lightning zippers I’ve bought previously, still in their packets.
It’s not often that the brand best known for making a piece of clothing becomes synonymous with that piece of clothing, independent of who made it. Stetson hats are a good example. Play a word association game, starting with “cowboy” and shortly after the jokes about bumming have stopped (calm down dear!), someone will mention Stetson.
For a short time in the middle 20th Century, ties made by the French bespoke shirtmaker Charvet were a similar cultural phenomenon. They’d become so associated with the bold colourful print neckties sold through their New York store to the rich folks of the East Coast that when those printed ties became popular in the 1940s, even the cheapest 25 cent tie with a bold print was referred to as a Charvet Print. This cultural cache hasn’t entirely disappeared and pretty much every man in the vintage tie scene will know generally what Charvet Print means.
I haven’t seen many actual Charvet print ties, and this one here is the first I’ve owned. It’s made of very light crepe silk and is very bold indeed. Maybe it represents falling leaves?
Back in the days of stiff starched collars, neckties were notorious for ripping and tearing when adjusting the knot. There were many different attempts to deal with the issue, and one of them was to sell pre-tied ties. This example has a button on a shank on the back to attach to the collar closure buttonhole. The shank detaches from the back of the knot, you slot it though the various buttonholes as you would a collar stud, and reinsert into the back of the tie. This tie is Dutch, I think – the only place I can find reference to Wett. Cedep. seem to be Dutch websites. Maybe this is something to do with trademarks? The tie was made by Claudy, and features a very cute badger (who appears to be wearing a butler’s uniform) on the label. The seahorses are a very nice design in brocade silk.
Moire, or watered, silk was used for neckties back in the day, but is certainly less frequently found than “normal” fabrics. You can see the watered effect on the tie below – it’s most obvious in the solid maroon parts – that was produced in the late 1920s or early ’30s. This pattern is typically produced by passing the silk through engraved copper rollers at high temperature and pressure (calendaring). It can also be produced by varying the tension of the warp and weft threads when the fabric’s being woven, but for the tie below I’d say it’s calendared fabric. The watered pattern is just too regular and repeated to be produced in the weaving. fabric woven in that way tends to have a highly irregular, random watered appearance. I have some ties made like this, and will post about them at some point. They (non-calendared moire ties) tended to be sold by only the very highest end makers.