Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Haband Ties By Mail (1948-1950)

Good morning!

I was doing my daily browse through some of Life magazine's back pages today when I was struck by an advertisement for mail order ties the likes of which you have never seen! Blindingly bright patterns in all the cheery colors of the rainbow. I never knew I could be so interested in men's wear that wasn't actually on a man.

Looking at all these mid century mail order goodies got me thinking. Haband (still in business today!) is a mail order company founded in 1925 by M. Habernickel, Jr. and John A. Anderson, carrying "a full range of men and women's apparel" for today's modern consumer. T catalog buying audience of the twenty-first century is almost exclusively limited to an elderly population buying alarm clocks with oversized digital displays and hopelessly off-base Christmas items for their relatives. This is a fact! In the age of Amazon and ebay, I can't think of single time I, myself, have ordered an item from a catalog. Even QVC seems dicey to my wary consumer eyes. I can remember my great-grandmother ordering everything from toe-warming double insulated socks to zirconia jewelry from a host of shiny sheet order forms that would show up in her retirement home mailbox...but not because the senior citizen age bracket confers some loss of quality-assessment as soon as an AARP card is issued! My great grandmother, and thousands of grandmas out there, came of age in a time where "mail-order" WAS the Amazon and ebay of its time. Want something a little more special than what you could find in your local department store or men's clothing shop? Ya send off for it in the mail!

I'm sometimes struck on vacation by the words of Jane and Michael Stern (hallowed be their names) in their travelogue/food history book Roadfood. In one of the chapters, the Sterns make note of the fact that, over the course of about forty years, the widespread construction of namebrand fast food retailers (McDonalds, Wendy's, Burger King, Subway, etc) at highway exits across the United States effectively murdered commercial regional cuisine. The "diner" culture of homemade food and local specialties no longer exists, or does in a very m-a-r-g-i-n-a-l-i-z-e-d, which is what makes you and I, the vintage enthusiasts, let out a squeal when some Eat at Joe's place is still in business after half a century at the same location. What does this have to do with mail order? Why is this making me so hungry?

Can't you just see a Johnny Stompanato type in one of these?
The food thing is something about which the Sterns are supersensitive, but on my part, I've applied that thought to the world of retail shopping. Example, when Bab and I went to Gulf Shores, we were able to shop at practically the same Target with practically the same inventory as the one six minutes from our house in Tennessee, excepting that it was five hundred miles away. While this offers the same comforting convenience as being able to get the same hamburger in Tulsa, OK as in Richmond, VA, it's frustrating to me that I can't say  "Oh, I got this hat in Florida" and have it be "special" thing. If I bought it retail, it's probably the same hat as I could have bought in Nashville. Catalog ordering, in its early days, offered big city homogeny to small town America. Just because you didn't have a store that carried insane-print ties, you could make the same sartorial triumphs or blunders in the country as in the city with by-mail purchasing options. Today, with not only chain department stores in every hayseed, out-of-the-way corner of the universe and the internet to give us access to LITERALLY anything that has ever existed in the history of the world, I have to say I feel a little never-experienced-it nostalgia for the days when ordering from a catalog was neat thing to do.

Especially when these ties were one of the things you could order!!

Note that the first tie is a splash of the wearer's monogram. OH. MY. GOODNESS.

The floridness of the forties' ties! The high-stakes neckwear choices available to these men! In an age of "Big Dog" brand ties, how much classier do even the loudest of mid century ties look? I like looking at the palettes thinking of the forties' dresses you could wear to match your date. The possibilities. Not to mention all the coral and periwinkles!

Vintage ties predating the 1970's are one of those "thrift store myths" I think are perpetuated into the 2000's in spite of the fact that the secondhand, not-in-a-vintage-store market for them pretty much dried up in the early 90's (during that last big pre-internet "push" of mainstream vintage chic). Like 70's ruffled tuxedo shirts and 50's prom dresses, I think forties' ties are so collectible and have been for such a long time that unless your grandad has a secret stash of them from his days as a snazzy dresser, you're pretty much out of luck outside a sky high ebay or vintage store purchase. Whereas any kind of 70's car salesman tie is NEVER ENDINGLY AVAILABLE in any thrift/garage sale/estate sale situation, I really think I've only ever bought three or four patterned 40's ties. Two of which are dandy, by the way-- a man fond of western wear bought two silk ties sometime after WWII in pastel yellow, grey, and brown, depicting horses' heads in laurel wreaths (the first tie) and a racetrack complete with horses and jockeys (second tie). They were in a huge suitcases with a bunch of the aforementioned 70's ties and were only a dollar apiece. If I can dig it out of my collection, I'll have to show you sometime.

Doesn't the one in the middle remind you of Beetlejuice?

Do you agree or disagree? Do you or your boyfriend (in the case of us gals) have a collection of vintage ties of any note? Was there some kind of mass disposal of these kind of ties by girlfriends and wives across the country as the 60's dawned on us? Were they melted down for scrap nylon at some point? Why don't I ever see cuties like this in my travels?

Well, that's about sixty different directions of a conversation to have about ties, but there you go, that's what happens when I write and swill coffee on a very limited time window during this gal's workaday week. Let me know what you think of these ties! Which one would you choose for yourself or mister mister?

Til next time!!


  1. I did a post on my tie collection...

    Unfortunately, I don't think I have any Haband Ties. Southern California is especially picked over when it comes to thrift store treasures, BUT there is one thrift store that I frequent where I find a vintage tie every time I shop. I have to do a little digging, but I have come away with 20's knit, 30's printed silk, and 40's hand-painted ties! I don't know where they come from, but I am happy to find them!

    1. I just commented all over your alive. The ties, Mr. Tiny! The ties! They're so...SO...excellent! Way to be a top notch collector, I so enjoyed lookin' at all of 'em. :)

    2. Thanks! With so many ties, is it wrong that I covet the plaid one from the top row and the blue tropical with the parrot silhouette? To be perfectly honest, I want them all!

  2. I know exactly what you mean. There's something very depressing and bland about walking into the same Target or Walmart or whatever no matter what corner of the nation you stand on. The simple variety of mom and pop shops adds to the necessary spice of life -- leaving too many places tasting bland these days.

    P.S. OMG TIES. ;)

    1. Right? I was five hundred miles from home and I could have easily been in a similar shopping area right next to my house!

      Also, the wonder of ties...I want the Beetlejuice one the most, I think. :)

  3. i'm so happy to know you also worship at the altar of Jane and Michael Stern. i feel like every person i have ever mentioned them to gives me a blank stare, while i plan my vacations around their recommendations. we have a rule that we can't shop or eat anywhere that we can go at home while we are out. though i do make an exception for mellow mushroom. i just can't resist!
    i have never seen a tie like that in the wild! i once found a great mod skinny tie, but that is pretty much it. i want to see pictures of the horse ties!!!

  4. If you think all ties are created equal, think again. There's the tie, and then there's the silk tie, and to quote Kipling, ne'er the twain shall these two meet --- unless it's inside your closet. You see, nothing says "successful" like the silk tie. It gives a suit instant dash and sophistication. On top of that, its color is so much more vibrant and it holds the knot superbly.
    homecoming dresses



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