The use of "Robes" by American Dressmakers: A. & L. Tirocchi, Providence, Rhode Island

Hilary S Baker, University of Rhode Island

Abstract

During the early twentieth century, dressmakers struggled to compete with the burgeoning ready-made industry. Anna and Laura Tirocchi, Italian immigrants from Guarcino, owned a prominent dressmakers shop in the Federal Hill area of Providence, Rhode Island, from 1915 to 1947. The Tirocchi sisters made dresses, blouses, and coats with imported "robes" from Paris, which are defined as pre-embellished lengths of fabric, as a competitive strategy against the advancing ready- made industry. These robes arrived folded together and sewn to a low thread count strip of fabric with a tag identifying the country of origin and importer. They included plain fabric for a slip and fabric with the ornamentation already complete that required minimal stitching to create a garment. The unfitted, tubular shape of twenties fashions made construction especially simple. These robes are now rare artifacts in historic costume and textile collections, and little is published about them. This research examined robes and extant garments from the Tirocchi collections housed in the Historic Textile and Costume Collection at the University of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum and evaluated their use as a strategy in dressmaking businesses, an industry in transition. The Tirocchis use of robes as a competitive business strategy against the ready-made industry was short-lived. Anna and Laura used robes most heavily during the fall of 1922 through 1923, after which the sisters increasingly began to rely on the sale of ready-made garments rather than custom made garments.^

Subject Area

History, United States|Women's Studies|Textile Technology

Recommended Citation

Hilary S Baker, "The use of "Robes" by American Dressmakers: A. & L. Tirocchi, Providence, Rhode Island" (2014). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI1555631.
http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/dissertations/AAI1555631

Share

COinS