Sunday, June 27, 2010

Jantzen Swimwear Exhibit.

By Karen Vitt, NEAT editor in chief
“Own the sea and the sun and the sand and all the men in site!” That fabulous copy, lifted straight from a 1954 Jantzen ad in Look magazine, sums up exactly why we love Jantzen and all it’s vintage, vampy glory. Especially here in Portland, where the legendary local label was launched in 1910.
While no longer headquartered in PDX, we can still celebrate 100 Years of Timeless Glamour in the current Jantzen anniversary exhibit on display now through Friday, April 30 at The Art Institute of Portland Gallery. To celebrate a century of style, Jantzen has brought in its iconic 21-foot fiberglass Diving Girl to preside over the gallery all month. Visitors can browse glamorous vintage swimming suits and bathing caps from every era, and giggle over old advertisements featuring celebrities and fashion statements as they change through the decades.
“The Jantzen Archive is unique. There is no other archive like it,” said Jantzen archivist Carol Alhadeff. (That’s right, folks, Jantzen is so rich with history they have an offical archivist!) “It represents the history of swimwear as well as the history of visionary advertising. There is a century of textile innovation in our vintage garments to inspire our collections.”
As the brand enters its second century, the exhibit makes for fun fashion viewing and a neat Portland history lesson at once – not to mention a thorough look at the evolution of swimwear and fashion marketing.
You’ll learn how Jantzen was born out of downtown Portland as Portland Knitting Company in 1910, turning out wool suits (itch) for a rowing team on a few hand-knitting machines above a tiny retail store. Then follow along as they grow into Jantzen Knitting Mills in 1918, as the Diving Girl becomes an international icon in the ’20s, as movie stars begin wearing Jantzen in the ’30s, as the company survives World War II, thrives in the ’60s surf scene, makes adventurous ’80s statement suits, and finally stages a return to its current classic American glamour.
Win a Jantzen Heritage Collection Swimming Suit! Jantzen’s 2010 Heritage Collection swimming suits also are featured in the exhibit, so visitors can get a total picture of how far Jantzen has come and the direction they’re heading, plus it’s a chance to browse some gorgeous retro and modern styles they can buy for themselves today. One lucky Neat Sheet reader will win this ’50s inspired Jantzen Heritage ruffled one-piece swimming suit (right, retail value $120). To enter, just send an e-mail with the subject line “JANTZEN HERITAGE” to or leave a comment on this post. We’ll pick a lucky random winner on Monday, May 10.
If you’re too excited to wait, you can also shop for Jantzen suits at neat local swimwear boutique Popina Swimwear, (4831 N.E. 42nd Ave.; 503-282-5159) where they have several styles of the vintage-inspired Jantzen Vamp Swimming Suits in stock. And be sure to visit Macy’s in downtown Portland (621 S.W. Fifth Ave.; 503-223-0512), where you’ll find all the latest Jantzen suits and can also view the entire Jantzen 2010 Heritage Collection on display in Macy’s front windows.
Happy birthday, Jantzen. See you at the beach.
Jantzen, 100 Years of Timeless Glamour
Through Friday, April 30
The Art Institute of Portland Gallery
1122 N.W. Davis St.; 503-228-6528
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