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This week in history...

Cheque guarantee card limits were raised, Beatlemania hit the fashion industry, and retailers promised not to profiteer in the event of war.

1989…

Retailers gave a lukewarm response to the decision by the Association of Payment Clearing Services (APACS) to introduce two new cheque guarantee card limits of £100 and £250, according to the May 13 1989 issue of Drapers.

Derek Russell of the DCT said the limits were too rigid, and that most people would not be given the higher limit, and consequently “we do not believe they will make a lot of difference.” He added: “The whole system is so out of date.”

Richard Weir, director general of the Retail Consortium, said: “Banks and building societies should be free to set their own limits”.   

The increases were the first since 1977, when a £50 limit was set.

The reopening of Whiteley’s of Bayswater in London was also looked at in this week’s issue. The department store, which closed in 1981, reopened as a shopping centre (pictured) with an impressive line-up of retailers including Clothkits, Turtle Touch, and a new concept by Laura Ashley called Units.

The concept of Units, wrote Drapers, “is difficult to grasp”. The 60-piece range was based around one stretch polyester/cotton jersey, in one size with an additional petite size. Units, said Drapers, “likes it to be known as ‘free size’. Different colourways and prints added variety.

A fashion spread put the spotlight on pleats (pictured), while pop star Yazz went on tour backed by her sponsor, footwear brand Converse (pictured).

1964…

Beatlemania was music to the ears of the fashion industry in Drapers on May 16 1964, as businesses rushed to cash in on fab four-related product.

Summer dresses manufactured by Rhona Roy, similar to those worn by ex-model Pattie Boyd in the Beatles’ film ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, were on display in more than 200 stores across the country, while “Beatles nylons” by Ballito were another product hitting the shelves.

Manufacturers of curtain fabrics, blankets, tea towels and table cloths were also negotiating licensing deals with film company United Artists ahead of the release of “A Hard Day’s Night”.

Also in the news, Burberry responded to a ban on the export of its raincoats to Arab League countries.

The company, which had a small amount of trade with Israel, said it was treating the ban “with the contempt it deserves.”

Drapers added that the ban was of little importance to Burberry, “because high-quality raincoats were obviously not much in demand in Arab countries”.  

Lingerie and nightwear came under the spotlight in this issue, including pyjamas and a sleepshirt by I&R Morley (pictured).  

1939…

A statement from the Retail Distributors’ Association in the May 13 1939 issue of Drapers promised that its retailer members would not take advantage of war conditions by putting up prices.

It was hoped the statement by the association, which was made up of large retail businesses, would influence smaller retailers to follow its example.

However, Drapers pointed out that preparations for the impending war would cause a greater demand for raw materials, which “would almost certainly result in higher prices”.

Also likely to drive up prices was the fact that the rise in employment (374,632 fewer people were out of work in May compared with three months earlier) due to the government’s rearmament programme would lead to a greater demand for clothing as new wage earners replenished their wardrobes.

Another battle entirely was being fought by a Bradford man, Albert Smith, who produced some new “Midgeprufe” stockings to protect against mosquito attacks.

Manufactured under licence by Weldon and Wilkinson of Nottingham, several pairs were sent to the Queen and her ladies-in-waiting ahead of their visit to Canada.

A picture story reported on a modern revamp of retailer Della Porta’s of Princess Street, Shrewsbury (pictured).

1904…

The Drapers of May 14 1904 was impressed by “the thoroughness” of a Royal visit to the silk mills of Manningham, Bradford.

The Prince and Princess of Wales spent about an hour and a half at the mills, where they saw almost 3,000 looms at work on silk and velvet weaving.

Every process in the mills was in operation, to the satisfaction of Drapers, which wrote: “Thus, in the stock room, operators were hooking, folding, and making-up, packing the cases with goods, and clerks were checking and booking, just as in the sheds the girls stood to their looms and worked steadily on until the Royal visitors had passed through.”

Also in this issue, a reader sent in a suggestion on preventing the spotting of kid leather gloves. “Procure a wide-mouthed jar, place a little ammonia in the bottom, and suspend the gloves over it inside with thread; cork up tight, and allow them to remain until the spotting is removed.”

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