The Beatles – at the height of their mid-1960’s fame – sporting their “trendy” Nehru jackets…
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Over the past year I’ve accumulated a number of draft posts: Draft posts that have remained unpublished “even to this day.” So for this post I started with some odds and ends.
One such “scrap” had to do with Nehru jackets. They were the “hip-length tailored coat for men or women, with a mandarin collar,” as featured by the Beatles – and others – in the early 1960s:
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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“Mad Men – Pete Campbell [center] in Bold [Madras] Sportscoat…”
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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: “Trendy.” The Merriam-Webster definition included a note that the first-known use of the word came in 1962. For other “first words” from 1962, see WORDS FROM THE SAME YEAR.
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.”
See also prescience, foreboding, and/or foreshadowing…
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…”