By Jane Ward, ATHM Librarian
Advertisements for clothing come in many forms, but one of the more unique ways in which pants were advertised are two of the following.
This card for Lee Riders, cut in the shape of a pair of jeans with Lee Riders clearly visible, was probably distributed by the Lee Jeans company to retailers. This one has stamped on the back: “Hunshucker’s General Store, Casper, Wyoming, ranch and cattlemen’s supplies and apparel.” It probably dates from the 1950s. Hunshucker’s apparently no longer exists, but it is probably emblematic of the many general stores in the western part of the U.S. that catered to ranchers and cattlemen.
Levy Bros., a store in Louisville, Ky., that sold ready-to-wear clothing for men and boys, had a different approach in the 1930s. The store sent letters to new parents—in this case Mr. & Mrs. Herschel Campbell of Louisville—congratulating them on the birth of a baby boy. The letter included a miniature pair of pants that could be redeemed for 50 cents towards a pair of pants when their son was ready for “real pants.”
These adorable pants even have their own label inside, “Dutchess Trousers.” Dutchess Trousers were very popular wool trousers that were manufactured by Hull & Co. in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. (in Dutchess County), beginning in 1884. Even before the company name changed to Dutchess Manufacturing Company in the early 1900s, their men’s trousers were known as “Dutchess Trousers.” They even came with a guarantee of sorts: for the first two months that you wore your Dutchess Trousers, the company would pay 10 cents for every suspender button that came off; 50 cents if they ripped in the waistband; and $1 if they ripped in the seat or you would get a new pair of trousers free.
Thankfully for us, the Campbells did not redeem their miniature pants, giving us a glimpse into unique advertising methods.