December 13, 2011

Ban-Lon, Shirt-Jac, Perma-Prest, What-Next

Ever see a Ban-Lon label and wonder what that means? What's a Ban, or a Lon, for that matter?

1960s Ban-Lon was soft and comfortable, better quality and very popular in casual shirts.

Clothing companies have been creating names to distinguish themselves since branding began. In the 1950s & 60s, branding clothing started getting really popular, so that sometimes even the fabric itself was branded and marketed as its own selling point.

Combined with the urge to make names quick & snappy-sounding, marketing folks began cutting words short and adding them together. The result was hyphens galore.

A 1965 advertisement for display forms ponders the conundrum of a jac-shirt.

With these abbreviated marks, you could (sometimes) decipher their meaning by unpacking the word portions. With Ban-Lon, however, it's not so clear. The shirts themselves are polo style or ring-neck style with banded sleeves & waist for a crisp casual look. We knew the "Lon" part stands for nylon, because that's what Ban-Lon is made of. Maybe the "Ban" means the knit bans wrinkles?

A little digging found a less obvious answer. "Ban" stands for Bancroft, the company that developed the knit. The shirts are pretty wrinkle-free as well, so maybe using "Ban" was a one-two punch in the marketing department.

The jac-shirt becomes a shirt-jac in this 1966 Sears ad. The two names were interchangeable.

Here's a few more examples, unpacked and written out, of kitsch vintage clothing labels:

Shirt-Jac = Shirt Jacket, a shirt tailored enough to wear open as a jacket (AKA Jac-Shirt)
Pla-Jac = Play Jacket is our guess, as it usually is seen on athletic style jackets from the 60s

Perma-Prest = Permanent Press, a cotton blend idea developed in the 60s that attempted to eliminate ironing

What's in a name? A lot during this hyphenated heyday. And we're sure there are more... Write us if you think of another!