Continuing with this week’s theme, I have a few vintage Lane Bryant catalogs from the late fifties and early sixties. I didn’t realize the company had been around so long. In the catalog dated 1959, they mention 60 years in business. Other than design which I’ll get into in a moment, there were a few interesting things about the catalog.
For one thing, nowhere does LB list the measures that constitute their sizes. At first I thought it was bizarre but then I realized there was something clever about it. You were instructed to measure yourself (chart below, download full size order form) and include that with your order. If you ordered the wrong size, they’d send you their size based on your measurements. I say that’s clever because it gave the company a very good idea of their customer’s sizing profiles. I feel confident in saying that data was collected, analyzed and most likely used to develop their sizing.
The other interesting thing about LB was marketing and sales. I doubt few manufacturers were selling consumer direct via mail order to this extent in those days. I guess they had to. As recently as 1980, only 15% of the US population was obese. They had to be national to be viable. I wonder how many customers they had in those days? I wonder if they have a corporate historian, probably not. Lane Bryant also had generous credit policies and would ship COD.
Now onto the good stuff, pictures! Boy, they sold everything from coats, dresses, blouses, slacks, bras, corsets (weren’t these being called girdles yet?), slips, sleepwear, shoes, gloves and hats. My first thought is how did they manage all those skus without computers and barcoding?