Union Made Hats

History of Union Made Hats
International Ladies Garment Worker Union, formed in 1900. In 1935 the union became part of CIO. Tags are notable for their ‘AFL-CIO’ attribution or lack thereof. The AFL and the CIO merged in 1955, therefore any ILGWU labels with AFL-CIO (look closely, as it is often very small) on them are post-55. In 1974 the labels were changed to a red, white and blue color scheme. This was in conjunction with their efforts to urge Americans to not buy imported goods: Buy American: The Job You Save May Be Your Own. The ILGWU remained active up until 1995, when they merged with another union, Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, to form UNITE.

1900 – 1936 ILGWU AFL
1936 – 1940 ILGWU CIO
1940 – 1955 ILGWU AFL
1955 – 1995 ILGWU AFL-CIO

Products with the ‘Union Made’ label were proudly worn and the Union Made sentiment was proudly stated in the early 1900s. Items with the Union Made label were worn with pride because of the effort women in the ‘garment districts’ put forth to rally against poor working conditions.

History of Union Made Hats
Back in the 1820s, the first textile mills in the United States opened their doors in Lowell, Massachusetts. In rural America, cash was hard to come by and these jobs were considered very good ones and any girl who got a job in a factory was considered lucky and fortunate. Factory owners desired to hire ‘young ladies of good character’ to operate the looms. Girls from farms all across rural America applied for the jobs. Women have always played a very important role in the textile and clothing industries.

Health Risk
Things, however, were not as rosy as they appeared. Factory owners worked these poor girls and women unmercifully from 5:00 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. or later each day. Lint debris from cotton threads filled the air the women had to breathe all day and it accumulated in their lungs. The machines they worked with soaked the woman’s long skirts with grease. During the winter, when oil lamps were in use to provide light (and they didn’t provide much), the women were a walking fire hazard. These dangerous working conditions posed many health risks.

Call To Unionize
By 1909, women workers had enough. At the end of that year, a rally was called to unionize. Unions brought power to women as a group to get better working conditions, better hours, and better wages. The result was ‘The Uprising of the Twenty Thousand’ as it would later be known, when women took to the streets to add their collective voices together and strike against the terrible working conditions they were forced to endure.

In the early 1900s, unions brought people together under a banner of their particular specialty. These were very often people who were poor and did not have a voice on their own. However, when groups banded together and unionized, employers and business owners were forced to listen and, more often than not, meet the demands for a better environment for the workers. The purpose of unions was to make things better for the workers.

History of Union Made Hats
Hats from the 1920s through the 1960s
Many vintage woman’s hats from the 1920s through the 1960s were Union Made and they wore the ‘Union Made’ label with pride. To support the causes of their fellow women, ladies made a determined effort to buy only ‘Union Made’ articles. The Union Made vintage hats were each something to behold. In the 1920s, versions included hats made of velor and trimmed with mink fur and rhinestones. Fashionable hats of the period included the use of feathers. Oh, the delights these creations were and every changing season brought a new design. They were absolutely stunning. In the early 1900s, many women wouldn’t think of leaving their homes without a hat. Hat and gloves were as necessary as your purse and shoes.

A big fad during the 1940s and 1950s era included the hat that was completely covered with artificial flowers. Others included special occasion hats for weddings, holidays, and more. The vintage hats from this early American era did not disappoint. On the contrary, they livened every occasion.

Many of the hats included a net covering over the entire hat and some included a face veil, just to lightly cover the front of the face. In the 1950s, there was also a tweed newsboy Harvard hat with a buckle that looked very journalistic. This hat was styled especially for women as they were beginning to earn more rights and a respected place in the work force. There were hats made of linen, wool, and black felt. Attributes the hats entertained included silk ribbon and sequins. Some hats were covered completely with sequins, with a netted veil covering the hat’s entirety.

In the 1960s, one of many hat varieties included a bucket style hat made in velour and chenille. Another fashionable design of a hat was made of nylon, with a rim roll hat brim and a fabric strip encircling the top portion of the hat. Some were made of vibrant sheer material with bold and daring colors like reds, pinks, oranges, and greens. Some used huge over-the-top flowers. Your hat definitely made your outfit.

Union Made vintage hats carry some of the most stylish and provocative designs. They were glamorous, unique, and eye-catching. Walking or riding, a vintage union hat definitely made you stand out from the crowd. When you wore a Union Made hat, not only did you delight your audience but you made a philosophical statement as well.

Alana Morgaine

Alana’s Cherished Treasures Is a Licensed Division of Alana’s Vintage Collectibles.
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