This woman, who became one of the most influential designers of clothes for children, started at as a housewife. When Florence Eiseman became a mother, she taught herself to sew and began making clothes for her boys and other children living nearby. Her husband, Laurence was looking for a way to supplement their income and he saw her talent. He took some of her organdy pinafores to a buyer at Marshall Field and Company and returned home with a large order. This marked the birth of an impressive career.
Sewing up this first order was the responsibility of a team of housewives. Florence had control over the final product and had very high standards. Quality fabrics were used and many of the details were hand finished. Hand sewn embroidery was one of the features of these early items as well as hand sewn hems, French seams and bound buttonholes. Their efforts were so successful that after some years a move was made into a factory and it was not long before other designers had to be hired too.
The philosophy behind her clothing range was that children were not small adults and girls should not be made to look like little women. At the time there was much ruffling, big skirts and petticoats. She felt that children needed clothes that were practical and that did not compete with their natural beauty. She firmly believed that adult fads should not be followed.
Her desire to make children as comfortable as possible in her clothes meant doing away with the tight waistbands, ruffles and flounces popular at the time. Her empire waistlines and trapeze shapes as well as one piece clothing for toddlers were the first of their kind. Knits were also introduced at reasonable prices so they could be worn every day.
All the clothing was made to the highest standards, including wide hems and adjustable buttons that prolonged their life. Later, another hem was added by one of the designers. It could be released by pulling a string once the child had outgrown the current hem. Initially, there were worries that the clothing was too expensive but when people its quality and how long it lasted, they were more than willing to buy.
Bright colors, clean lines, appliques and quality fabrics made this clothing stand out. Celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and the Kennedy’s dressed their children in these clothes. Just ten years after starting her business, she received the Nieman Marcus award, becoming the first designer for children to receive this award for her contribution to fashion.
The brand was expanded over the years to include swimsuit designs for women and a couture line harking back to the high quality garments produced in the early years. In the 1980s day-to-day involvement in the business became too much for Florence due to ill-health and head designer, Teri Shapiro was left in charge. She had worked long enough under her mentor to make sure that the brand stayed true to her vision.
Robert and Laurie, the sons of this formidable designer, had been involved in the business for many years before she died and took over the company when this happened. Today, online stores feature swimwear, dresses, coveralls and many other items produced by the company. Playful stripes and prints with appliques have not lost the classic look of this brand, while looking fresh and up-to-date at the same time.
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Author: Essie OsbornThis author has published 208 articles so far.