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A Bit of History: the "Trunk Show"

We take clothing for granted, don’t we? Rarely even think about its origin, let alone what went on before clothing became de rigueur. Now, clothing is fashion, and fashion, is power. Yet, there are a few bits of interesting history behind this naturally-endowed phenomenon of human survival and sociality.

For example, are you aware that humans covered their bodies with animal hides as early as 170,000 years ago. And did you know that the sewing needle came along as early as 50,000 years ago, that early sculptures dating back to 25,000 years ago show women with fiber skirts, and the warp-weighted loom came along, more or less, around 12,000 years ago. In fact, it wasn’t until the Crusades, in the 13th century, that Europeans began to see textiles like silk.

Fine fabrics returning with the knights of fame and failure soon marked the development of an enduring, human propensity for self-proclamation called “fashion”. Seems like a duh moment, but did you ever know that clothing fashion had always been more a European invention. It seems other cultures and their clothing preferences were usually more subject to influence by political or religious zealotry; not by those who saw clothing more the amusement of the social hierarchy.

This fashion romp, of course, was greatly propelled forward by the industrial revolution and the invention of the sewing machine, Up until then, clothing was meticulously hand-stitched by tailors who sold direct to their clientele. The actual clothing shop, in those days, dealt more with second-hand clothing than first production.

And so with the industrial revolution came the clothing store, the boutique, the department store. Designers flourished and it became an industry onto itself; forever attempting new ways to draw the customer into an encounter with the “what’s next in fashion”. The modern retailer took a lesson from the 1800’s, when traveling salesmen would pack up the proceeds from the factories into large, cumbersome trunks, and travel from city to town, selling their goods to whomever would look and listen to a sales pitch. As there were few stores in those days featuring the latest trends in clothing, these “trunk shows” were heralded as an event to be reckoned with. These events still happen today, and Kathryn’s Collection is a firm believer in the benefits to its clientele.

The logic follows that shoppers have an opportunity to see a full line of a designer’s production for a season. It’s an excellent chance to really get a feel for a line; to see if this designer defines who you are and how the clothes fit you. If it works, so many troubles melt away. If it doesn’t, well you had some fun and a bit of champagne. There’s always the next show.

And for us, at Kathryn’s Collection, we get the chance to really dig in on exploring what looks great on you, making you happy, and having some comfort in knowing we’ll see you again, real soon.

Finally, the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2019, estimates that a whopping 89% of retail, clothing sales happens in the brick-and-mortar store. That’s quite something considering all the whoppla over the internet and those e-commerce sites. At our level of design, it’s still very important to come into our store, take a hard look at the quality of the product, feel the suppleness of the fabrics, and reconnoiter with the fit; once and for all.

A trunk show is one wonderful way to do just that!

-- Kathryn Cumming


2355 Vanderbilt Beach Road
Suite 126
Naples, Florida 34109


Tel: (239) 353-1885