Many people have come to know clothing labels but so many of us are ignorant about how custom clothing labels came to be.
Not just the end users are guilty of this, even many manufacturers are guilty of the same offence. You see, the modern industry where fashion houses are run by individual designers started in the 19th century with Charles Frederick Worth who was the first designer to have his label sew into the garments he manufactured in 1858.
Let’s backtrack a bit about Charles Frederick Worth. He was born on 13th of October and lived until 10th, March 1895. He founded the House of Worth, the fashion house that came to dominate Parisian fashion in the latter part of the nineteenth century.
Charles is considered by many to be the father of haute couture but was he an overnight success? Definitely not. His career took an upward trajectory after he found a position at the prominent dry-goods and dressmaking firm of Gagelin et Opigez in Paris. Ggaelin sold textile goods, shawls, and some ready-made garments.
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It was while working there he developed a knack for how to run a business. Still many believe he was not really a good business person. At this placement, he came in contact with the best resources and it was there he upped his design skills.
While he was at Gagelin, he learned the value of live models and he is attributed as being the first to replace fashion dolls with live models while promoting his designs to the public. You’d agree that was a smart marketing move, don’t you?
He met his future business partner Otto Bobergh, a swede who later became the financial director at House of Worth which was established arguably in early 1857. Bobergh later retired due to political unrest in France.
Charles was the artistic head at House of Worth, and his fashion house was patronized by the crème de la crème of the society. His most prestigious client was Empress Eugene who requested that he adapt the 19th century dress as an everyday wear.
Worth won the attention of the Empress and other ladies of the Court through the influence of his wife, a former Gagelin model, née Marie Vernet (1825-1898), who elegantly wore Worth’s designs.
By the end of Charles Frederick Worth’s career, his fashion house employed approximately 1,200 people and he had revolutionized the business of fashion.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has said that his “aggressive self-promotion” earned him the title of the first couturier.
For four generations, the dynasty of the House of Worth continued to reign. After the death of Frederick Worth, his sons took over the business one after the other with Gaston-Lucien (1853–1924)and Jean-Philippe (1856–1926) taking over following their father’s death in 1895. The fashion house flourished during the sons’ reign but the successful run came to a halt in 1952 when Charles Frederick Worth’s great-grandson, Jean-Charles (1881–1962), retired from the family business.