Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mode O'Day

It is firmly established that I love vintage clothing. I love the styles, cut, and fabrics that were used in the mid twentieth century. The workmanship of the simplest of garments is superior to anything you could buy in a department store today. Even the "low-end" brands were better quality. The fact that so many of these garments are now over 50 years old and still being worn is proof.

After buying a particular red dress I love, I wanted to know more about the designer. The label read "Mode O'Day" and under that, "Styled in California." I decided to do a little research.

 In my red "Mode O'Day" dress at Christmas (I have an apron on)

The Mode O'Day label

The year was 1932, and the country was deep in the depression. Most prudent people would not have thought it was a good time to start a business, but three brothers who were immigrants from Lebanon, throwing caution to the wind, started Mode O'Day. Their strategy was to manufacture dresses by the dozens, and instead of selling them wholesale to retailers, sell them from their own stores, passing the savings onto the customer. In their early days, most of their dresses cost $1.

The first Mode O'Day shop was founded in Glendale, CA, and by the mid 1960s, there were over 700 stores in over 30 states. Most of the stores were independently owned franchises. The individual owners would be able to purchase the dresses, on consignment, directly from the factory located in Utah. The Mode O'Day corporation also supplied display materials and most everything these small business owners needed to get started. 

 The outside of the Tacoma, Wa Mode O'Day

Inside the Tacoma Store, 1947

Pictured above is the local San Jose Store 1955

Another shot of the San Jose shop located at Valley Fair 1955

I personally don't remember the Mode O'Day shops. The company was purchased sometime in the Mid 1960s  by the Gamble-Skagmo Corporation. At the time, Gamble-Skagmo owned many retail chains, from Pharmacies to Hardware Stores. In my research I haven't been able to pin-point the time of Mode O'Day's demiseI know that sometime in the 80s the company changed its name to "Fashion Crossroads," in an effort "to update their image." 

There are a lot of Mode O'Day dresses out there. Most of the 1950s styles are nipped waist, full skirt, and the sun dresses usually have a bolero. You can find dozens for sale, right now on Etsy, Ebay and other websites.



Anonymous said...

Hello Kim.

The 1955 boutiques pictures are so beautifull. Pfew it's was better before :/

Have a nice day.

Elisa said...

Love the dresses! So cool they actually had a local store and you found photos of it!

Mr. Tiny said...

That's really cool! I am totally unfamiliar with Mode O'Day but I think their business model was really genius. I love learning something new about something old! Thanks! said...

I love all the old pictures of the shops! Can you imagine shopping there??? So much nicer than all the stretchy, hoochy clothes you see in over crowded stores now!

Zootsuitmama said...

We had a Mode O Day shop on the "square" in Independence Missouri when I was growing up. I shopped there in the "mod" sixties! Junior high through High school, I found cool dresses there! Thanks for the memories!


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