Today we’re going to talk about corsets!
I saw this ghost sign high up on the side of 1006 S Michigan Ave in Chicago. It’s faded but clearly legible:
They Lace in Front
Well-known in United Kingdom, Gossard is pretty much unheard of in the USA. Although regarded as a British company, Gossard actually started here in Chicago back in 1901. The company specialized in front-lacing corsets. It was even claimed that Henry Williamson Gossard invented them, but they’ve been around at least since Elizabethan times.
By the 1920s, Gossard was doing roaring trade in the United Kingdom, so much so that in 1926 they opened a factory in Leighton Buzzard, north of London. Soon they shifted all production to the UK and registered as a British company. This sign is one of the few reminders of Gossard’s Chicago origins.
We can pinpoint the date of this ghost sign fairly closely. 1006 S Michigan Ave was completed in 1906. At around this time, corsets were starting to fade in popularity. Health concerns, fashion, improvements in women’s rights, the need for more practical clothing led to the bra supplanting the corset in the 1920s and 1930s.