I have been creating beautiful utilitarian aprons for almost ten years and it has been a joy to do so. I have noticed a shift in who is buying aprons. It is quite intriguing because I fequently get questioned about the prices from women who grew up making and wearing aprons. I’m talking about lots of women who were born between the wars.These ladies strolled local department stores with their moms on Saturdays. These stores were the forerunners of Wal-mart and Target. They were small local family run operations. I know there are a few still in existence around the country, but they are few.
I remember as a girl looking forward to going into shops in my own town. Stores named W.T.Grants, Myers, Sherry’s and David’s were popular on the main drag. The stores featured large windows with mannequins dressed in the latest fashions and related merchandise of interest. I have memories of the sounds made by the large metal cash registers and footsteps of customers on hardwood floors. It was such pleasure to move between floors to shop for the many wonderful bargains the stores offered. Such were those days of stairs and rickety elevators. One shop even had a man who ran the elevator. It was a small brass cage that seemed to wheeze as it moved customers between the floors. Such a funny memory to me now as an adult.
There is none of the personalized charm of these stores in the mega stores of these times. It is kind of sad that kids don’t have a clue about how much fun a shopping trip can really be. The whole idea of a day spent walking from store to store caused no small measure of excitement. The shopping possibilities were endless with a little bit of money for a child.
It’s been a new day for a long time. It is amazing to me the reactions of people at the price of a good quality American made apron. Why? Prices on everything has gone up significantly. Why shouldn’t the cost of a garment used everyday also increase? Gasoline used to cost next to nothing and a fill up didn’t break the bank. A pack of cigarettes was fifty cents or so. A cup of coffee was a nickle? Now let’s compare a few things then and now. Filling up your gas tank could wreck your weekly budget, a pack of cigarettes is ten dollars depending on where you get them and a cup of coffee is minimally under two dollars for a medium, again depending on where you buy it.
My point in all this being is prices have increased significantly since the last world war. Our economy is now a more global one and as a result there have been some trade offs. Things that used to be bought for a couple of dollars no longer can be obtained so cheaply. The price of materials, labor, transportation costs, etc. has increased considerably. This occurs across the board with many products. The apron bought from Woolworth’s for $2.98 doesn’t exist anymore. Woolworth’s closed years ago. I have a collection of vintage aprons from various department stores across the United States some still have the price tags on them. Love the images they conjure up in my mind when I look at them. Beautiful American made aprons in natural fibers and the new synthetic blends.
I have some lovely pieces in organdy with lace trims and fabulous cottons in patterns that capture the essence of the time period. These are high quality and made in America. A rare combination these days unless the item is handmade here. Even so, the materials might be from another part of the world. Regardless of the changes in the economy; it is still possiblle to get good products. The question then becomes, what are you willing to pay for a quality utility garment?