Archive for June, 2013

Stray Fact File #2049: A. Sulka & Co.

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

I’m hopelessly, helplessly, head-over-heels in love with researching the vintage goodies I find, and sometimes I think the sleuthing is at its most addictive (and fun!) when the designer or company or article of clothing or jewelry I’m looking into is either misunderstood, forgotten, or obscure. Sometimes, of course, a label is well-known, and then the rush comes from unearthing an unexpectedly cool bit of trivia about it.

Most recently, I had a grand time learning more about A. Sulka & Co., while prepping a late 1940s pair of herringbone tweed shorts from them to list in my online shop:

late 40s sulka shorts

I already knew the basics about Sulka, best known for its exclusive ties, like this 1940s Bemberg & silk beauty in the Met’s Costume Institute:

or this Art Deco moired silk bow tie with starry embroidery (from my archives):

Having investigated Sulka last year, when I sold the tie above, I was already aware that the company was cofounded in 1895 by a traveling salesman and a custom shirtmaker, and that by the time Amos Sulka passed away in 1946 it had acquired enough of a cachet to have European as well as US locations, not to mention A-listers like Winston Churchill and Clark Gable as customers.

But I didn’t know that:

–Sulka had designed a plaid flannel air raid suit in July of 1941 for the Duke of Kent. A snap to get into, thanks to its zipper front, it had outsized pockets, large enough for a sandwich and a thermos bottle, or a flashlight and good book. Then, six months later, the bracingly (and morale-boostingly) BOLD yet practical suit was put more widely into production:

sulka air raid suit
Nor did I know that:

–Amos Sulka’s photo in his New York Times obituary had to be run a second time, with a tie literally painted on it, because in the first edition his (white) tie didn’t show up against his (white) shirt. A columnist in the Burlington Daily Times News remarked the irony of such a fate befalling “a man who during his life made more money out of neckwear than anyone we can think of.”

OK, I admit that these desultory tidbits don’t exactly register on the Geiger scale; nonetheless, I find them immensely satisfying to know. Hope you enjoy mulling them over too!