From a 1937 booklet entitled “The Story of Vicuna, The World’s Finest Fabric” by Sylvan Stroock, president of S. Stroock & Company-
“…Based on the present price of the cloth, men’s vicuna topcoats such as are made by The Hickey Freeman Co., (who make the world’s finest ready-made clothing) would sell at retail for $400.00 and overcoats made of Stroock heavy weight vicuna cloth would sell at $1,000.00”
In today’s dollars, that overcoat would sell for about $18,000. That is about in line with today’s market- the last time Hickey Freeman made vicuna overcoats for Saks Fifth Avenue, some fifteen to twenty years ago, the retail price was somewhere around $20,000, the equivalent, in today’s dollars, of around $33,000.
“Unsurpassed in its softness and beauty, the lovely coat of the Vicuna eclipses that of every animal on earth, its fleece being beyond all question the finest ever placed at the disposal of the weaver…
Extremely strong, resilient, and having a marked degree of elasticity and surface cohesion, the fibres of the vicuna are the finest of any known animal, being less than one two-thousandths of an inch in diameter, with a count of approximately 2,500 to the inch, which is less than one half the diameter of the finest sheep’s wool….
…Pure vicuna cloth, as manufactured by Stroock, requires the hair of no less than 40 animals to make sufficient cloth for a single coat.”
The rarest of all cloth now comes to us in an even rarer form- a pristine overcoat made of pure vicuna cloth by the aforementioned Hickey Freeman Co. (my current employer) in 1970.
The current owner, who inherited it from his father in 1986, lives in California and has no practical use for it. Honestly, I wish I had a budget to acquire pieces like this for conservation. As I don’t (and my own personal finances do not permit it either), I will at least help it to find a proper home in the hands of someone who will appreciate this exceedingly rare garment.
Interested parties are invited to contact me and I will make an introduction; I am not receiving any kind of financial consideration in the transaction.