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This week in history...

Mexx sued TK Maxx, Drapers rummaged through Margaret Thatcher’s wardrobe, and country squires posed for the camera…

15 years ago…

Dutch clothing business Mexx was suing US discount chain TK Maxx for alleged trademark infringement in the UK, reported the June 18 1994 issue of Drapers.

Mexx sought an injunction against TK Maxx to prevent it from using the Maxx and TK Maxx trademarks, claiming these “so nearly” resembled its own.

The writ, issued through the High Court in London, also made a claim for damages. TK Maxx opened its first UK stores in Bristol and Liverpool this year, and it was widely believed the retailer, which is known as TJ Maxx in the US, chose the TK Maxx name to avoid confusion with UK discount retailer TJ Hughes.

Young fashion retailer Warehouse also made the news this week, after launching a new shopfit as part of a bid to distance itself from Miss Selfridge by targeting a slightly older customer.

After two or three years of bland, “samey” shopfits, Drapers commented that “a new, increasingly discerning customer had begun to demand a warmer, more intimate and relaxed environment in which to shop, [with shopfits] that created the feel of an independent shop, and Warehouse has done just this.”

The shopfit, by designed by consultancy Caulder Moore, was revealed in the retailer’s Argyll Street store in Oxford Circus, London. 

30 years ago…

“Who looks after the Prime Minister’s wardrobe?” asked Drapers on June 23 1979, following Margaret Thatcher’s election as the UK’s first woman prime minister.

The answer seemed to be designer Maureen Baker, who had helped dress Thatcher for the past three years. Baker said: “She prefers soft fabrics and is particularly fond of naturals like pure wool and silk. Colours are mainly pastels. Her daywear is smart, concentrating on pleated skirts, silk blouses and jackets.”

Drapers also discovered that Tatcher never wore trousers and chose outfits that were crease-resistant. Fashion house Mansfield, another favourite of Thatcher’s, said her clothes must be suitable for day to evening wear, and that she shunned foreign brands, preferring the “English rose” look.

55 years ago…

Miserable weather over the Whitsuntide bank holiday weekend in the UK left many retailers in a foul mood, according to Drapers’ June 19 1954 edition.

The unseasonal conditions hit dress sales, making the Whitsun period (Whitsuntide was a bank holiday in the UK until 1967) a “disappointment”.

However, some retailers managed to lure customers regardless. One retailer in London’s West End “made a point of showing in its window dresses which could be easily complemented with jackets, coats or rainwear from stock”.

In this month’s edition of Cloth & Clothes (later incorporated into Drapers), the magazine paid a visit to a point-to-point horse event to check out the style of the country gents. “The country farmer or squire is as fashion-conscious as his brother in town,” it noted. Particular attention was paid to a new shape cap, “in which the peak is entirely covered and the back pulled down”. 

100 years ago…

A debate about early summer Sales continued in Drapers on June 19 1909, after a reader made a plea for common sense in the matter. 

The summer Sale “gets earlier every time it is ushered in by the blast of red-ticket trumpets and gaudy posters”, complained Frederick Herrin of Joseph Hull & Co. “It is one of the greatest evils in the trade,” he added.

He pointed out that the seasons were clearly changing and becoming later each year, therefore it made sense to delay summer Sales in order to force shoppers to pay the full price on summer stock before they headed to the seaside in July.

And as for the West End not setting a good example by going on Sale early, Herrin pointed out: “Why in the name of all that’s drapery should the whole community wait for only a small section of it?”

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