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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”
This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite. That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden. Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.” (For his work on the Israelite.)
That’s now my goal as well. To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”
For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.
In the meantime:
The jacket began to be marketed as the Nehru jacket in Europe and America in the mid 1960s. It was briefly popular there in the late 1960s and early 1970s, its popularity spurred by growing awareness of foreign cultures, by the minimalism of the Mod lifestyle and, in particular, by the Beatles and subsequently the Monkees.
Note also that the word “trendy” first came into use around 1962. (What a great decade!)
And here’s another BTW: Jawaharlal Nehru – seen above right and for whom the jacket was named – “never wore a Nehru jacket.” The point being that – while I never got to wear a Nehru jacket in the 1960s (when I was in high school) – I did get to wear a Madras shirt.
Madras shirts – and pants and jackets – also became popular in the 1960s. The name came from the Indian city of Madras, now called Chennai. (Located near the southern tip of India, the city is now nicknamed “The Detroit of India,” with more than one-third of India’s automobile industry.) And the “Madras shirt” is definitely a lesson in spin doctoring.
The original idea was a “lightweight breathable fabric suited to a humid tropical climate.” (Like Florida, where I used to live.) And today’s Madras is basically a check-patterned cotton cloth, in three varieties. The most interesting of the three is bleeding Madras.
For us the story began when a textile importer – and ultimately Brooks Brothers – loved the fabric’s low price. But the seller never mentioned that it “required utmost care when laundering because the color would run out if it wasn’t gently washed in cold water.”
As a result, “Customers were furious when they saw the colors run that ruined their expensive summer apparel.” Lawsuits were threatened, but ultimately a solution of “sheer marketing genius” was arranged. An attorney for Brooks Brothers arranged a meeting with an editor from Seventeen magazine, about a new “miracle handwoven fabric from India:”
In the following issue, the editor ran a seven-page article about fabric titled “Bleeding Madras – the miracle handwoven fabric from India.” And since pictures say more than 1,000 words, they added beautiful photographs with the caption “guaranteed to bleed.” Within a days [sic] of the magazine hitting the newsstands, Brooks Brothers was flooded with thousands of requests for the Madras items and it became an overnight success.
And who couldn’t help but fall in love … with either the dashing “Hathaway gent” in the photo above left, or “Mad Men‘s” Pete Campbell? (As shown below.) And speaking of lessons in spin doctoring: I just Googled “spin conor lamb” and got 16,900,000 results.
Which just goes to show: Fashions like Madras may come and go, but spin goes on forever!
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The upper image is courtesy of “https://sep.yimg.com/ay/yhst-73969762682587/beatles-45-rpm-picture-sleeve-i-ll-cry-instead-b-w-i-m-happy-just-to-dance-with-you-32.gif.” See also File: Beatles I’ll Cry Instead.jpg (Wikipedia). As to Nehru jackets in general, see Nehru jacket – Wikipedia, and/or The Nehru Jacket Guide — Gentleman’s Gazette.
Re: “Spin conor lamb:” Those results included New GOP spin: Conor Lamb is a secret Republican, and Paul Ryan Is Dizzy From The Spin He’s Putting On Conor Lamb’s Victory (dailykos.com).
The lower image is courtesy of Madras Guide – How the Shirt, Pants & Jackets Became Popular (Gentleman’s Gazette). See also Mad Men – Wikipedia, which noted the character Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) was a “young, ambitious account executive from an old New York family with connections and a privileged background.” Further, “Campbell is often shown cheating on his wife, and is not above manipulating and blackmailing women to get them to sleep with him.”
On a totally unrelated note: The original title for this of draft post was “On Nehru jackets, Madras shirts – and other odds and ends.” As to such odds and ends, see also Dictionary.com, which noted that this term – for a “miscellany of leftovers, outsizes, scraps,” or “unmatched bits” – came to its present meaning in the mid-1700s. Some future posts will likely feature more “odds and ends…”
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Re: The Israelite. Harry Golden wrote and published it from the 1940s through the 1960s. He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.” (Another way of saying he told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.” But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life. As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like so many do today. He still got a kick out of life. And for more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.