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Archive for the ‘Interesting Facts’ Category

The creative process for large fashion corporations, from design houses to fast-fashion behemoths, is breakneck, furious and often wasteful. Fashion companies on average deliver up to eight collections a year and mass companies can churn out up to 52 “micro-seasons” a year, with new trends hitting stores weekly.[1] Season after season, week after week, ideas are generated, textiles are developed, prints and patterns are drawn, stitches, patterns and techniques are developed and samples are created. All parts of the product development life cycle are carefully detailed and documented to share with manufacturing facilities around the world. This process utilizes thousands of people and continues non-stop, every day, all year long. In order to keep deliveries on time, and ultimately, customers coming back for more, this process requires working twelve months or more in advance. And once the process of garment creation is underway there is an immediate need to market these collections.

Industry giants dedicate tens of millions of dollars a year to launch massive advertising and public relation campaigns in order to keep fashion feeling new and exciting. Like the creation of apparel, marketing also follows a relentless life cycle creating new visuals and ideas of engagement season after season. Ideas are generated, photo shoots are executed, media is bought, pictures are printed, websites designed, stores are updated, packaging created, direct mailers are delivered and the excitement continues.

How many of these ideas are actually new? How many times are garments recreated? Is fashion ever original? How many unique and innovative images and campaigns can be created year after year? Or is repetition reinvention? Are familiar designs and a recognizable aesthetic the keys to a successful brand identity and, ultimately, longevity? Does recognizing a brand’s past help build a solid future? Or does it matter at all?

My thesis is rapidly approaching and the process of research has begun. These are the questions my I will attempt to answer by exploring the value and meaning of corporate archives in today’s fashion industry. It will also take a look at principles and practices—how to build them, what the benefits are and the cultural effects they may or may not.

Creating archives for non-fashion related corporations has been well documented, dissected and debated. There are countless journals and associations related to the research and development of business archives. Many of these journals, paper and articles are going to help serve as research for my thesis. Yet despite the growing interest in creating fashion-related archives, evidenced by the number of diverse brands that have existing archives, there remains a dearth of information on the development, utilization, management of these private libraries. In addition, business and historical archiving, as well as library science are void of fashion specific information technology.

Creating Digital History has served as a wellspring of information, rich in resources and platforms that will benefit my thesis and possibly the end use of creating a real archive for my current employer. The use of Omeka as an archival tool, while not the most fluid or advanced interface, is basic and solid in its straightforward and uncomplicated user experience. I can clearly see how this could translate into a similar system for a fashion company and the development of a corporate repository. All of the information combined in this course has given me hope and confidence that a universal, yet customizable, archiving system for fashion companies can easily be developed. Now bring on my thesis!

Sources:

[1] Whitehead, Shannon. “5 Truths the Fast Fashion Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know.” Huffington Post. October 19, 2014. 

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It’s difficult to talk about punk and alternative visual style without talking about the hair, and it’s impossible to talk about the hair without talking about hair dye.

Manic Panic, beloved by celebrities and small-town youths alike, is known now for providing a wide array of dyes in unnatural shades like pink, turquoise, and atomic red, but it originally got its start as a small East Village boutique selling punk-style clothing and cosmetics. Founded in 1977 by Tish and Snooky Bellomo, two backup singers of punk/New Wave outfit Blondie, Manic Panic was, if not the first, at least one of the earliest stores dedicated to punk fashion. For the first two decades of its history it was a located at 33 St. Marks Place, and photos of that original boutique show a storefront that strongly embodies the punk DIY aesthetic, with a sign that looks hand-lettered and band shirts in the windows.

Manic Panic temporary tattoo

A temporary tattoo proclaiming the brand’s slogan: “Life fast & dye your hair.”

By the early 2000s the store had moved from its small space on St. Marks to a warehouse in Long Island.  The initial change in location had more to do with rising rent prices in the East Village than with changes in demand, but by the 1990s Manic Panic had gone beyond its punk roots and entered the mainstream.  An Associated Press article from mid-1996, in attempting to examine a hair-coloring “fad” seen in both celebrity fashion and street style, sources the trend back to Manic Panic, citing the cheapness of the product ($8 a bottle at the time; these days it’s closer to $10) and the huge array of colors as the reasons for the brand’s popular appeal.

There’s more to the turn-of-the-millennium hair-dyeing trend than the popularity of Manic Panic, though.  Tish Bellomo, speaking in 2001 on celebrities’ widespread adoption of unnatural hair colors, noted that the style started with “a few punks who were dyeing their hair” and that “now [2001] you turn on MTV and every other band has color.”  By the end of the decade, it wasn’t even just bands.  There is probably something to be said about a link between the mainstream popularity of alternative rock and pop-punk in the early/mid-2000s and the increased use of hair dye, but in recent years even pop stars with no relation to the alternative music scenes whatsoever have sported bright blues and greens.

The growth of Manic Panic from a small Greenwich Village boutique to a multi-branch company is a (not entirely unwelcome, from a consumer’s point of view) symptom of this trend. Snooky Bellomo recalled in 1996 that in the “olden days of punk rock” hair dye was a form of shock value, but that it was since become “more just a cosmetic thing.”  In many ways this is true.  Some colors will continue to have “edgy,” unprofessional, even rebellious associations, but it is increasingly common even outside of fashionable cities like New York to see “obviously” dyed hair (as opposed to “natural”-looking color additions, like touch-ups for grey hair and highlights).  What does this say about the legacy of ’70s and ’80s punk style, and what does it mean for punk/alternative fashion today?  The answer to that question will hopefully make it into my exhibit.

Sources:

“Our History.” Manic Panic Official Website. Accessed October 5, 2015. https://www.manicpanic.com/ourhistory

Bibby, Patricia. “Rainbow-colored dye is at the root of fad.” Lawrence Journal-World (Lawrence, KS). August 1, 1996.

Moore, Booth. “Hair apparent? Daring ‘dos now the norm.” Eugene Register-Guard (Eugene, OR). July 9, 2001.

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Throughout my research about the Irish in Greenwich Village, authors and researchers have emphasized the importance of religion to the Irish immigrants and Irish-American community who lived in the neighborhood during the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. St. Joseph’s Church served the Roman Catholic Irish community, standing at the center of both the religion and culture of these Village residents. What I was surprised to learn was the influence St. Joseph’s had not only over its congregation but over the Archdiocese of New York. And more interestingly, how the side of St. Joseph’s growing congregation led to the creation of five other Roman Catholic churches in the Village to serve the neighborhoods Catholic residents. St. Alphonsus, St. Ann’s, St. Francis Xavier’s, St. Bernard’s, and St. Veronica’s were all founded within the original boundaries of St. Joseph’s to accommodate the growing Catholic population of the Village.

St. Joseph's Church

St. Joseph’s Church

St. Joseph’s was founded in 1829 and was referred to as the “Mother Church of the Catholics in Greenwich Village.” When the church was dedicated in 1834 the parish boundaries included the West Side of Manhattan from Canal Street to 34th Street. St. Alphonsus was the first of the new parishes, located on Thompson Street, about a mile south of St. Joseph’s. It was founded in 1847 to serve a growing German Catholic community in the neighborhood but soon attracted Irish Catholic parishioners who lived nearby creating tensions between the two immigrant groups. But by the beginning of the 20th century the parish was predominantly Irish and tensions had dwindled.

St. Francis Xavier’s and St. Ann’s were both founded in the 1850s, St. Ann’s in 1852 on the eastern boundary of St. Joseph’s, and St. Francis Xavier’s in 1850 in the northern part of St. Joseph’s parish. St. Ann’s, located on E. 12th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues, served the wealthy Catholics of the Village and surrounding areas. But in the 1890s the parish was nearly $93,000 in debt and much of its attraction ebbed. St. Francis Xavier’s, however, became the first real threat for the pastors of St. Joseph’s. It was the first permanent Jesuit parish in the Archdiocese of New York. From St. Francis Xavier’s inception, Archbishop John Hughes received complaints from St. Joseph’s and other churches that the Jesuits were stealing their parishioners. St. Joseph’s pastors continued to complain to the Archdiocese for over 40 years about the number of their parishioners who were regularly attending mass at St. Francis Xavier’s.

St. Bernard’s, the fourth of the parishes carved from St. Joseph’s original boundaries, was the least threatening. Located on W. 14th Street near 9th Ave., this new parish founded in 1868 was far enough away that it didn’t steal enough of St. Joseph’s parishioner’s to raise alarm. However, that wasn’t the case with St. Veronica’s.

Church of St. Veronica

Church of St. Veronica

The last of the parishes carved from St. Joseph’s boundaries, St. Veronica’s was officially dedicated in 1903 after thirteen years of construction. When Father John Salter of St. Joseph’s first heard the Archdiocese planned to create a new parish in its western boundary, encompassing nearly 30 blocks, he launched a complaint with the Archbishop claiming there weren’t enough Catholics along the waterfront to support another church. The Archdiocese, however, knew that the proposed parish was more than capable of supporting a large congregation. They answered Salter’s complaint by proposing the boundaries of St. Veronica’s be broaden, which promptly stopped the pastor’s objections. St. Veronica’s served a poor waterfront neighborhood in the West Village, worshipping from a warehouse and stable until the basement of the present church on Christopher Street was completed in 1890. The church wouldn’t be dedicated until June 1903 was St. Veronica’s was completed.

While St. Joseph’s Church remained the “Mother Church of the Catholics in Greenwich Village” and continued to serve a predominantly Irish congregation, the five daughter parishes that were born within St. Joseph’s boundaries helped shape the culture and history of not only the Irish but all Catholics in the Village.

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St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village was not just a place of employment for nurses, but it was also a place for education. In 1892, forty-three years after the hospital’s opening, the St. Vincent’s School of Nursing opened its doors to women. The school was first directed by Katherine A. Sanborn.  Many graduates from this school continued their work at St. Vincent’s hospital. Other graduates  went to work elsewhere in New York City, including the New York Foundling Hospital, another institution directed by the Sisters of Charity. Eventually, in the 1930s, St. Vincent’s School of Nursing began to accept men. This produced even more graduates and more St. Vincent’s educated nurses working in the field.

St. Vincent's School of Nursing 1905 Graduates

Soon after, the United States found itself on the brink of war, resulting in a high demand for nurses.  St. Vincent’s Hospital was one of the first New York institutions to react to a wartime United States. St. Vincent’s lost many nurses who desired to fulfill their patriotic duty and went overseas to care for the wounded.  Those who remained in New York City  took part in rationing, and practiced air strike drills.  St. Vincent’s nurses also collected blood and plasma during the war, as it became one of the centers for the New York City Blood and Plasma exchange. The hospital became a site for draftee examinations. Over five hundred men were sent to Greenwich Village to be examined by the doctors and nurses at St. Vincent’s.

In 1941, St. Vincent’s and the School of Nursing became a center for the U.S. Nursing Cadet Corps.  The U.S. Nursing Cadet Corps was “the nation’s first integrated Uniformed U.S. Service Corps.”  The nurses in the Corps were a vital entity on the home front, taking the jobs of their counterparts that were sent to Europe.  According to the U.S. Nursing Cadet Corps website, their nurses made up 80% of nursing care in the United States by the end of World War II.

U.S. Cadet Nurses Corps

While the U.S. Nursing Cadet Corps was making St. Vincent’s their newest home base, the hospital established their own Volunteer Corps.  Mrs. Edmund Borgia Butler, an influential woman involved with the Catholic Board of Charities, brought life to this Volunteer Corps.  Mrs. Butler selected the thirty initials members, but by the end 1943, the Corps had over seven hundred members who were working within the hospital, filling any vacant jobs. The Volunteer Corps played an integral part in the continued success of the hospital. The hardships of war did not prevent St. Vincent’s hospital from existing as a functioning institution.

The end of the war marked a great transformation for St. Vincent’s Hospital. The hospital was growing physically with new building projects. It was also expanding its influence with the growing number of nurses that were being educated at its school and working in its wards. St. Vincent’s was no longer considered just a hospital, but rather St. Vincent’s Medical Center. The events of World War II are testament to the great reliance that was placed on not just the men who were fighting the battles, but also the people who were there behind the lines taking care of them.   The nurses of St. Vincent’s, as well as other nurses across America, had a significant impact on society and the places that they worked in.

Today neither St. Vincent’s Medical Center or the St. Vincent’s School of Nursing remain open, but their influence and memory is still with the many New Yorkers who walked through their doors in Greenwich Village.

For more information on St. Vincent’s School of Nursing check out their alumnae website.

Other Sources:

St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center, An Illustrated History, 1999.

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In the documentary The Tao of 9 Second Avenue, architect John Shuttleworth states that the Church of All Nations “was always a community-oriented building…[cutting] across ethnic boundaries.” He continues to recount that it inherited a “great history of community service,” beginning in 1874 when the Germania Assembly Rooms occupied the site at 9 Second Avenue, then alternatively known as 291 Bowery.

Germania Manhattan Guide

Excerpt from ‪The Manhattan Guide‬: ‪Greater New York Red Book‬.

The Germania Assembly Rooms, which are included in The Manhattan Guide’s list of the public halls of greater New York, functioned primarily as a settlement house for German immigrants. In his King’s How to See New York: A Complete Trustworthy Guide Book, Moses King calls the institution “a dance and meeting hall.” The Telegraph Herald adds that members of the Arion Singing Society used the Germania Assembly Rooms as a communal space.

King's Germania

Excerpt from King’s How to See New York: A Complete Trustworthy Guide Book.

By the early twentieth century Hadley Rescue Hall and Wesley Rescue Hall occupied the site, with 293 Bowery as their addresses. Members of the Church of All Nations ran the halls, providing food, shelter, and religious support to “destitute” and “outcast” locals in the Bowery. The Christian Advocate in particular details the Wesley Rescue Hall’s rehabilitation of over 15,000 men and solicits donations of clothing and shoes for its members. The New York Charities Directory lists Hadley Rescue Hall as a place where “drunkards and criminals of both sexes are welcome and assistance is given when necessary.”

After its official opening at 9 Second Avenue on February 15, 1923, the Church of All Nations continued to provide services to the local community. Many interviewees in The Tao of 9 Second Avenue echo Shuttleworth’s comments, noting that the Church accepted and embraced people of all races and religions. Members could attend religious services in its chapel, which were given in Polish, Chinese, Russian, and English. According to Judy Sutula, a local synagogue even used the chapel for its Passover celebrations.

NY Charities Directory

Excerpt from The New York Charities Directory .

The New York Charities Directory chronicles other activities hosted by the  “settlement house,” including the Church’s English, Yiddish, Italian, Chinese, Russian, and German events. It also offered educational classes and kindergarten for young children in addition to gymnastics and sewing school. The Church’s “Fresh Air Fund vacations,” funded completely through donation, sent city children on free summer getaways in June, July, and August.

In 1951 the New York Times advertised free puppet shows and demonstrations hosted by the Church’s Pioneer Youth Camp Program. Older Church of All Nations members could take part in theatre performances, which were either presented as part of the works division of the Department of Public Welfare or held as fundraisers for the Church.

photo

Church of All Nations members in their athletic uniforms. Photograph courtesy of Gloria Weilandis.

Local athletics clubs, like the Chinese Athletic Club and the Young People’s Christian Foundation, used the building’s sports facilities for friendly games. A rent-control station opened in the Church in 1947, allowing Lower East Side tenants to get information about their landlords and apply for rent reductions.

Milk

Excerpt from “‪RISE IN MILK PRICE TO BE FOUGHT HERE; Consumers’ Protective Group Calls Public Meeting for Oct. 11 to Plan Action‬” article in the New York Times.

The Church of All Nations also served as a forum where local residents could voice their opinions and exchange ideas about particular issues. In 1928 Russian members attended a speech on Christianity, communism, and materialism hosted by the Reverend Dr. Timothy Peshkoff, the Church’s Russian pastor. Union laborers on strike over low WPA wage scales gathered in the building in 1935 to send a telegram to Mayor LaGuardia refusing to return to work. When the price of milk increased by half a cent in 1939, the Consumers’ Protective Group called a public meeting and planned a protest in the Church’s auditorium.

photo (1)

Image of the Church of All Nations taken in February 1967. Photograph courtesy of Gloria Weilandis.

The Church of All Nations was not the only institution committed to community service in Manhattan in the early part of the twentieth century. Much like other organizations listed in The Manhattan Guide and The New York Charities Directory, it supplied essential social, health, and religious services to local residents. The Church of All Nations also provided its members with a space to form and strengthen communal bonds, which permanently ceased with the building’s demolition in 2005.

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The East Village is often viewed as a younger, edgier sibling of Greenwich Village. A depiction that is accurate considering that the neighborhood is quite new as far as New York City neighborhoods are concerned. Throughout much of New York City’s history the area located east of 3rd Avenue between Houston and 14th Street was simply known as the Lower East Side. By the mid-20th century, however, the neighborhoods of the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village began to merge, and as boundaries changed the area’s population transformed as well.

The term East Village first appeared in the early 1960s when artists from Greenwich Village started moving east to escape the rising cost of rent. This move to the Lower East Side was partly tied to the destruction of the Third Avenue El in 1956 that had served as a physical and social divide between the two neighborhoods. As the artist community spread east, real estate brokers followed closely behind hoping to cash in on the areas’ growing connection to the bohemian scene. Relators began referring to the neighborhood as “East of the Village” or the “Village East” and hippies began flocking to the area. Indeed, the first mention of the East Village in The New York Times came on Feb 7, 1960, and even at this early stage the article remarked upon real estate interests in the neighborhood.

At the same time East Village had begun experiencing other serious demographic changes. The older immigrant community largely of Eastern European descent was being replaced by the city’s rapidly growing Puerto Rican population. Between 1940 and 1970 the city’s Puerto Rican population exploded, growing from a minority of about 100,000 to over a million. Many of the new immigrants settled in the Lower East Side, and by the time the hippies arrived there was a large Puerto Rican presence in the neighborhood.

Screen shot 2013-09-29 at 4.06.21 PM

Through the influence of hippies, artists, and real estate agents the name East Village had become common among New Yorkers by the late 1960s. In a June 5, 1967 article titled “The 2 Worlds of the East Village” the Times pointed to the general acceptance of the term noting that the area had already “come to be known” as the East Village, but it also hinted that some New Yorkers were uneasy with the changes in the neighborhood. Referencing clash between city police and about 200 hippies, the article claimed that there was a large divide between the officers and residents of the “seething streets”. The author, which tellingly only interviewed police officers, declared that cops in their “trim, blue uniforms and highly polished shoes find it difficult to understand the world of the unkempt, long haired hippies, the Puerto Ricans with their strange language and customs, and the Negroes.” Indeed, for this author and the officers he interviewed, the residents of the East Village did not conform to what he called “middle-class society and values”. One of the officers described hippies saying, “You feel like vomiting,” while another complained of Puerto Ricans that they “like to congregate on the streets,” and “play their guitars at all hours of the night”. These descriptions did not represent everyone’s view of the East Village, but for the author and his clean-cut cops, the neighborhood seemed like an unfriendly place.

Despite the critics, the East Village continued to grow in popularity and became a large draw for tourists in the 60s and 70s. One young hippie described the appeal of the neighborhood the best simply stating, “You go where the action is.”

Sources

 
Edmond J. Bartnett, “‘Village’ Spills Across 3D Ave.” New York Times, February 7, 1960: R1.
 
Sylvan Fox, “The 2 Worlds of the East Village,” New York Times, June 5, 1967: 63.
 
Paul Hoffman, “Hippies’ Hangout Draws Tourists,” New York Times, June 5, 1967: 63.
 
Ira Rosenwaike, Population History of New York City (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1972), 174.

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There are many surprising ways in which issues with the water supply have altered the path of New York City’s history. As the population exploded during the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the water supply and its quality shaped the growth of urban development. Poor water supply systems created a constant threat of water-born diseases for early Manhattanites — in particular, yellow fever.  While Lower Manhattan (specifically Wall Street) has been America’s center of finance for over two centuries, for brief periods in the nineteenth century Greenwich Village housed bankers and businessmen (as well as many other New Yorkers) seeking to escape periodically vicious outbreaks of yellow fever.

Image

Aaron Burr, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog

After a particularly deadly outbreak of yellow fever in 1798, Aaron Burr along with his associates petitioned to create a private company that would supply the city with water from fresher and “safer” sources. The Manhattan Company was thereby created. However, it was actually Burr’s intention to use the company as a front in order to establish a bank — an immensely complicated undertaking in that era. A brief annotation to the Manhattan Company’s charter allowed for excess stock to be used “in the purchase of public stock or in any other monied transactions or operations not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Unfortunately, since the company’s main goal was to establish a bank, The Manhattan Company was slow and inept at creating a systematic and safe water supply for the city, and the outbreaks of yellow fever persisted.

The Bank of New York — the oldest bank in the United States and founded by Alexander Hamilton — started a trend of banks moving temporarily northward to escape yellow fever, galvanized by a clerk at the bank’s Wall Street headquarters contracting the disease during the 1798 outbreak. Subsequent epidemics in 1803, 1805, and 1822 pushed other banks, such as Bank of the Manhattan Company and Phenix Bank, to the same block of land inhabited by the temporary sanctuary of the Bank of New York. This cluster of businesses resulted in the naming of the strip “Bank Street,” which is still present today in the West Village.

Image

The Bank of New York, watercolor by John William Hill, The Phelps Stokes Collection, New York Public Library

1822 marked the last great yellow fever outbreak in lower Manhattan. One 1823 report of the epidemic by Dr. Peter S. Townsend recalled “the timely and almost total abandonment of all that part of the city south of Fulton-street…”  One citizen described how “[f]rom daybreak till night, one line of carts, containing boxes, merchandize and effects, were seen moving towards Greenwich Village and the upper parts of the city.” However, business was soon as bustling as before in their temporary Greenwich Village retreat:

Within a few days thereafter, the Custom House, the Post Office, the Banks, the Insurance Offices, and the printers of Newspapers located themselves in the village… where they were free from the impending danger, and these places almost instantaneously became the seat of the immense business usually carried on, in this great metropolis.

Image

Excerpt from James Hardie’s “An account of the yellow fever, which occurred in the city of New-York, in the year 1822”

The rustic appeal of Greenwich Village would not last much longer. By 1837, construction of the Croton Aqueduct would begin: soon the city would have an abundant and clean water supply and the yellow fever outbreaks would subside. Greenwich Village would thereafter become home to factories and tenements — a far cry from its bucolic beginnings. However, before this development, the village provided sanctuary to the citizens of lower Manhattan, and allowed New York bankers to continue business as usual.

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