A piece of history

I just took over an office from someone who left Hickey Freeman. It was the office occupied by former designers and executives of the company and hadn’t been cleaned out in, well, ages. It’s in the corner of a suite of offices which have remained largely unchanged since they were built in 1912. I figured I might find some little treasures hidden in boxes, forgotten. I never thought I would find something that is so significant, at least in my mind.

There is a little side office adjoined to mine, in which there was a drafting table on which the designers would make their patterns, plus some shelves and two garment bags tucked behind the door. Behind the door and a stack of patterns I found this. This is a morning suit which was made for Walter B. D. Hickey (sr.) in 1929, six months before the market crash which caused the great depression. Mr. Hickey was the chairman of Hickey Freeman in the late sixties and judging by the date and size, it must have been made for him when he was a boy. His son, Mr. Hickey jr., now retired, was in last week for a visit- I will give him a call to see what he knows about this garment.

What is particularly exciting about this is the provenance and the condition. When looking at vintage garments we often have no idea for whom it was made, by whom, and when we do, there is often little information about them. In this case, not only do we know when it was made, for whom, exactly who that person is (and that person has a prominent place in the history of the clothing industry in America), but this garment was never worn. It is in mint condition. The silk lining in the sleeves has started to deteriorate a little, but the silk in the body is absolutely immaculate. I’ve never seen a garment of this age in this condition.

I’ll post more photos when I get back from travelling next week, but in the meantime I’m going to reach out to a few people to consult with them on proper storage and what the best home for this would be. The costume institute, perhaps?

6 Replies to “A piece of history

  1. Hum, is that a stroller or a morning coat? However, an incredible find. As the dissection isn't really the appropriate approach now, I'd love to read more about the garments regarding fabrics, construction (as much as can be seen/felt from outside), craftsmanship etc…

    Remarkable. Maybe it can be displayed in the flagship store or something?

  2. I got married in a vintage morning coat from 1926 which was likewise in fantastic condition. Great find. Most museums I know are not interested enough in it, unless it is from an important political person. But it could be exhibited at the company

  3. Nice. I own a vintage Hickey-Freeman jacket from their Rochester factory. It's in the old style with high really high armholes and curved breastpocket and very heavy fabric. It's in good condition and I'd assumed it was a pre-ww1 garment.

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