Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Certain eras have certain faces, in illustration anyway. The 1920s and 1930s favored two well known in advertising and magazine-story illustration, when magazines were a major source of fiction. Below are the formally dressed, strong-jawed types readers saw all the time, with large eyes and noses, for the males, anyway. And the men usually had closed mouths, probably indicating control of emotion.
Most famous of all were the men in the Arrow Collar (later, shirt) ads in the U.S.A., by illustrator Joseph C. Leyendecker who lived for decades with his handsome business manager, a former model.
JC Leyendeckers's models for Arrow Shirts were so popular that they would received bags of fan mail as soon as they were introduced. Epitomizing the 'Modern Man', the Arrow Shirt men were one of the most successful advertising campaigns in history. The campaign ran from 1905 until 1930 without waning.

Arrow Collars and " Kebo - the new Arrow Collar "
An original J. C. Leyendecker ad for Arrow Shirts and Collars
more than 85 years old.
Manufactured by Cluett, Peabody and Company of Troy, New York
From DerbyCityPrints

Arrow Collars & Shirts

Leyendecker helped create modern branding when, in 1905, he lobbied Arrow to think less about collars and create "a unique male symbol for their products." What was called for was "not simply a man, but a manly man, a handsome man . . . an ideal American man." Model Charles Beach fit the Arrow Collar man role perfectly.
Leyendecker's early style -- a crosshatched brush stroke that turned soft surfaces into sharp planes -- reinforced Beach's chiseled good looks. When his dynamic crosshatching faded into softer fills, Leyendecker enhanced the manliness of his subjects in other ways: He lit a single light and oiled the muscles of his models for dramatic contouring.
Decades before feminist Laura Mulvey wrote about the male gaze objectifying women, Leyendecker turned his gaze toward handsome men and created widely circulated icons of masculinity.
(Nan Hunter at hunterforjustice.typepad.com)
Leyendecker's work depicts sartorial elegance, patrician demeanor, a certain frostiness, and an identifiable masculinity. Leyendecker’s Arrow Collar Man became one of first real advertising campaigns and produced the first sex symbol of either gender. In a campaign lasting twenty-five years, Leyendecker portrayed an archetypal American masculinity that was equal parts football hero and urbane man-about-town.

from stylesalvage.blogspot.com

From vintageskivvies.com

And along the way, advertising mirrored the changes. Oil paintings of men in their Kenosha Klosed Krotches by Saturday Evening Post artist J.C. Leyendecker were daring for 1911 and made history as the first national print ads for men's underwear. Most of the Men Shown in early underwear advertisements were fellows who ("Put hustle in the tussle!" as the Superior Underwear Company put it), men who were likely to put a lot of "strain" on their undergarments. Chalmers Knitting began offering mesh fabrics and two-piece suits that were cooler for summer.
As the industry moved toward 1920, the emphasis began to shift to convenience and comfort. Ads were full of "patented" new designs to reduce buttons and increase accessibility. Some early woven cloth union suits had open crotches, for obvious reasons of hygiene, often held closed with buttons. Then came the various closed crotch designs. Some just draped across the buttocks and stayed more or less closed due to fabric overlap. Others had a D-shaped flap down the rear crotch seam with a single button in the middle of the right buttock to keep it closed. Suddenly, "comfort" was the biggest news of the day

Arrow collar advertisement
The Saturday Evening Post
April 13, 1912
collection of boyblue

This is an excellent example of Leyendecker's origination of the modern sensibility in 20th century advertising art. Give the sweet young lady some heroin circles under her too pretty eyes and a stolid expression and this ad would almost work in GQ today. Leyendecker could be considered the inventor of upper class ennui and "attitude" in American advertising. We see it being born in this ad.
This is a trendy couple from 1912. We know that because they're in an elegant automobile, still a toy for the affluent. They have to be well-to-do and up on all the latest stuff. Her lovely hat tells us she is not only pretty but with it, the perfect ornament to a successful young man.
Her beau is smoking a cigarette in public, rather rakish even for a man at that time, since cigarettes were considered rather extravagant and slightly rebellious, just the thing for a young trendie. Notice the debonair way he wears his driving gloves. This dude has it together. These social butterflies could almost be on their way to catch the Titanic, except they would be a tad late, or to a party at Gatsby's, in which case they would be a tad early.
Early Arrow collars were usually plastic or cardboard and worn only a few times if you were a part of the "smart set." Being able to design a collar which was considered fashionable was hugely profitable for the companies which succeeded, rather like the razor blade business today. Wearing army issue cloth collars during World War I, soldiers learned you didn't have to put up with uncomfortable plastic and cardboard collars. They refused to wear anything but cloth after the war, which is what Arrow then began to produce.
(collection of boyblue at geocities)
Sometimes a single artist, perhaps even with a single powerful image, can define a generation. A perfect example of this is J. C. Leyendecker, whose covers for The Saturday Evening Post covers and other magazines, along with his iconic Arrow Shirt ads, became emblematic of the young, upscale, sophisticated Gatsby-era dandy (Linda Rosenkrantz).

Image from artistlight.com

Clothes speak volumes about the times we have lived through. Arrow's rich past is a reflection of the American fashion over the course of not one, but three centuries. From a one-room workshop in Troy, NY in 1851 to an international corporation with distribution in more than 90 countries, it is too fine a heritage to be forgotten.After more than 150 years, we salute all that has gone before us - the rise of "soft dressing", the fall of the detachable collar, the birth of the sport shirt and the influence of military uniforms. We witness the birth of sports - and with it, sportswear.Through the eyes of the Arrow Collar Man, we see exactly how fashion reflects and soothes the times we live through.Each decade had its challenges. Each era its fondest memories. From this vantage point, we look forward to a new century of understanding the fabric of people's lives and shaping the fashions they follow
In 1825, Mrs. Montague of Troy, NY- a wife whose husband's dirty shirts drove her crazy- changed the way American men would dress for the next 100 years. A blacksmith by trade, Mr. Montague demanded a clean white shirt every evening when attending to social activities. One day, Mrs. Montague, tired of laundering, cut off the collars of her husband's shirts, since only the collar was soiled, bound the edges and attached strings to hold them in place. The idea soon caught on. Not just in Troy, but across the country.
For Arrow, it all began in a one- room workshop in the town of Troy, NY. This is where Maullin & Blanchard, the originators of the business of Cluett, Peabody & Co., later known as the manufacturers of Arrow collars, started a small business. Within a few short years, the company, changing names a few times along the way, quickly became one of the most successful in the country. Dozens of shapes and styles became popular with names such as Coachman No. 2, Brockly and Chalco. Soon, the main manufacturing plant in Troy stretched over 357,000 square feet. It was the largest collar, cuff and shirt factory in the world. In 1897, President McKinley visited the plant and was astonished by the scale and scope of such a well-organized and modern factory.
But a new man was in the making. As the 1900's saw the increased availability of ready-to-wear clothing, the "sack suit" - the forerunner of the modern business suit - was being worn everywhere. The jacket fell straight and wide with narrow lapels. The trousers were narrow and cuffed. Young men of the growing urban middle class saw it as a sort of uniform, free from the constraints of convention. This new man was the Arrow Collar Man.

Arrow Dress Shirts and Collars
Image from allposters.com

Image from allposters.com

Image from allposters.com

It was in 1905 that Charles Connolly, the advertising manager for Cluett, Peabody and Co., hired a commercial fashion illustrator by the name of J.C. Leyendecker to create a brand new image for Arrow. His creation was the Arrow Collar Man. A good-looking fellow, clear-eyed and dignified, Leyendecker's nattily dressed gentleman quickly became the symbol of the modern American man. He appeared in Arrow advertisements everywhere - newspapers, magazines, car cards and billboards. When he introduced a new Arrow Collar, men lined up outside storefronts across America to be among the first to have the latest style.

Arrow Collars Advertisement 1910
Image from flickr.com

Arrow Collars
Image from flickr.com

Arrow Collars Advertisement
Image from flickr.com

Arrow Collars Advertisement
Image from flickr.com

Arrow Collars Advertisement
Image from flickr.com

Arrow Collars Advertisement
Image from flickr.com

Arrow Collars Advertisement
Image from flickr.com

Arrow Collars
Image from flickr.com

While American men admired the Arrow Collar Man for his sense of style, American women adored him. So popular was this well appointed figure of Leyendecker's imagination, he actually got fan mail, mostly from women. He even got marriage proposals! At the height of his popularity the letters ran nearly a thousand a week - more than silent film star Rudolph Valentino. Thanks to Leyendecker's visionary ads, sales of Arrow Collars and shirts rose to $32 million by 1918.

Image from graphicdesign.com

Couple Descending Staircase
Image from ocaiw.com

Demand for Arrow collars internationally began in 1912 with an order from Mexico. It wasn't long before Arrow collars from Troy, NY, were being sold in Cuba, Puerto Rico, various countries in South America, as well as Scandinavia and Holland.
When American soldiers returned home from World War I, they had grown used to shirts with soft collars already attached. Yet throughout the early Twenties, the Arrow Collar Man enjoyed more fame and good fortune. Women continued to adore him and wrote him letters as if he were a real person. In 1923, he was the subject of a Broadway musical called "Helen of Troy, N.Y." By the mid-1920's, 4 million collars with the Arrow label were being manufactured every week. Among the thousands of domestic shipments leaving Troy, it was not unusual to see cartons addressed to Siam (now Thailand), Belgian Congo (now Zaire), Java and Batavia (Dutch East Indies, known today as Jakarta, Indonesia).
In a few short years, American men who wore stiff, starched, stand-up collars were considered old-fashioned. The younger generation wanted something softer, yet presentable. Arrow responded with Golden Arrow Collars. But try as he might, The Arrow Collar Man was in trouble. By the end of the decade, a radical change was in order.
It came in the form of an energetic salesman from Chicago who eventually became president. His name was C.R. Palmer. His idea - to create a line of Arrow shirts. He believed that the millions of men who had been buying Arrow collars for so many years could be persuaded to buy Arrow shirts. The claim, "Only Arrow Shirts have the famous Arrow Collar" quickly became the advertising slogan of the day.
As the American man embraced "soft dressing", so did Arrow. The success of shirts gave the company the foresight and confidence to take on new challenges - underwear, knit shirts, slacks, shorts. Then, on October 29th, 1929, the stock market crashed.
the Sixties was a compelling reason to loosen up and live. It was the age of rebellion. London's Carnaby Street was fashion headquarters for the swinging set. But all across America, especially in California, counter culture hippies, who were protesting the war in Vietnam, wore tie-dyed t-shirts, flowered shirts, hip-hugger pants and sandals.
It was an infectious decade. Its exuberance infused businessmen's closets with color and pattern, especially men's shirts. By 1968, less than half the shirts Arrow sold were in white. In their place, were boldly striped shirts with white collars, vivid colors and sport shirts in rich, new patterns.
Like the times, Arrow looked to the past and embraced traditions that had begun decades ago. The renowned sports artist LeRoy Neiman took on the challenge of illustrating the Arrow Man, a duty that had not been performed since J.C. Leyendecker's illustrations stopped appearing in the 1930's. As the pre-eminent sports artist of his generation, Neiman's art brought a new exuberance and confidence to the image of the Arrow man. He helped to define who the Arrow Man was and who he was becoming.
(Source: arrow.com)

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