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The Grandfather of Graphics

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While it’s rare to find men’s clothing from the ‘20s and before it is much more typical to find finer clothing such as tuxedos, formal jackets and vests. Workwear and sportswear is almost impossible to find; men not only wore their everyday clothing out, but wives typically outlived their husbands and tossed whatever clothing survived after their passing. The fact that most antique sportswear was made of wool made it even harder for those items to survive as most fell victim to moths and other insects. What wool pieces typically survived from these eras are the one-piece bathing suits, however, in the teens and ‘20s there were also amazing wool athletic tops created with appliquéd letters, emblems and patterns. These shirts that grew out of the growing sport industry at the turn of the century really introduced the strong graphic element to modern menswear. Even though few of these shirts survived, the incredible example below was displayed at the Sturbridge Textile Show by Heller’s Café: one of the largest collectors and purveyors of antique menswear. For nine hundred dollars, this rare piece of menswear history could have been yours. Check out these picture from my own collection to see these antique sportswear shirts on their original owners.

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