drpeter

Senior Member
Just received an email from the clothing company Alex Mills.

It's a pretty new company that describes itself this way:

Timeless, not trendy, we take the core styles that every person wants and we do something radical: We don’t change them all that much.
We preserve what makes them iconic so you can stop searching for that perfect, uncomplicated jacket or shirt. It’s right here.
Wake up, get dressed, don’t overthink it. (Sounds nice, right?)
Alex Mill: Guaranteed to never go out of style.


Why I posted it here is because the email's subject line read:

"The Best Things In Life Are Khaki"

Followed by a series of pics of a man and woman in all-khaki outfits:
View attachment 49052 View attachment 49053 View attachment 49054 View attachment 49055 View attachment 49056

So here we are, 122 years after it started, and Khaki still seems to have currency even with some part of the young generation.

That's it, thought it was relevant enough to @Charles Dana outstanding thread to post.
Great suit of clothes! I have somewhat more structured suits in khaki and beige. They look lovely when worn with a simple white shirt and a brightly colored rep tie or regimental tie.
 

drpeter

Senior Member
Great stuff, Charles! Like Peaks here, khaki is my favourite cloth and khaki trousers are everyday wear for me.

I see from your quoted adverts that US Army clothing (cloth as well as clothes) was already beginning to move into civilian life, especially with surplus material. I wonder if, in the early 20th century, they had the kind of Army-Navy surplus shops that we have had for a number of years now.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
(Fading Fast—Funny you should add a post today about a new iteration of khaki suits. When I saw your contribution, I was in the process of firming up the following section. Coincidentally, you’ll see that it includes quotes from a few of the earliest advertisements ever for full khaki suits.)

*****

PART III—FROM BOYS’ PLAY SUITS TO GARMENTS FOR
MEN & WOMEN—CIVILIAN KHAKI GROWS UP
1899 THROUGH 1909

Khaki’s popularity in the civilian world was spawned by the 1898 Spanish-American war. Knowing a business opportunity when they saw one, America’s enterprising clothing retailers quickly began marketing boys’ play suits modeled after the khaki uniform that the Rough Riders—and most notably their leader, Teddy Roosevelt—made famous during and shortly after their return from Cuba.

I’m going to go a bit deep in the weeds with this part of the thread, so be warned. I will provide specifics so that you’ll be able to see for yourselves how khaki attire evolved from boys’ clothing at the turn of the 20th Century to heavy-duty clothes for men and “outing” attire for women by 1909. In this section, I’ll quote a representative sampling of newspaper advertisements from 1899 through 1909. Some of the information is repetitious, but that’s a deliberate choice I have made; I want to give you a flavor of how popular the boys’ version of the khaki Rough Rider uniform was during the few years following the Spanish-American war. (Anyway, this topic—civilian khakiwear in the very early 1900s—hasn’t been written about much—if at all—as far as I can tell, so we might as well shine what light we can on the subject.)

From the Los Angeles Times for May 23, 1899:

A Los Angeles store called the London Clothing Company advertised this new product—

“Boys’ Rough Rider Suits, another new lot just received. Made of the same material and in the same style as worn by ‘Teddy’s Terrors,’ trimmed with blue, red or yellow; very durable and just the thing to tickle a live American boy. “$1.50 a Suit.”

*****

From the San Francisco Chronicle for May 28, 1899:

“Roosevelt Rough Rider Suits, $1.45–Rough Rider Suits...for rough times during vacation; made of genuine Khaki cloth; serviceable and strong; just the thing for the little fellow’s outing; sizes 4 to 10 years; prices $1.45 either Infantry, Cavalry or Artillery trimmings, an exact counterpart of the uniform worn by Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.”

*****

In the Spokane Chronicle dated June 1, 1899:

Another advertisement by the I.X.L. Clothing Co., which reads:

“Boys’ Rough Rider Suits“
“Ages 3 to 10 years. Consist of jacket and long pants. Made of the regular tan khaki cloth. Same as worn in Cuba during the Spanish-American war. We place three hundred of these suits on sale tomorrow only at $1.45.
25 Dozen Rough Rider Hats for tomorrow only.....20¢“

*****

And now for something completely different—khaki attire for the ladies. The Los Angeles Times for June 21, 1900 carried an ad from a local clothing store, the New York Skirt Company. It was having a big sale. Among other items on offer were these beauties:

“Seaside Suits“
“Choice of any Wash Suit in the house this week only $2.37
These garments are the very newest...of this season’s styles. Suits are made of khaki cloth, shrunk linen, pique, duck, linen, homespun, covert, Barnsley suiting, etc.“

*****

And now, the earliest ad for a men’s khaki suit that I could find (not necessarily the earliest, just the earliest I stumbled upon):

In a suburb of Los Angeles, the Covina Argus newspaper for September 28, 1901 carried an ad from a clothier:

“Khaki Suits”
“We have just received our second shipment of suits made from the Tan Khaki Cloth. They will wear far longer than anything you can buy at anywhere near the price. Extra well made, perfect fit. COAT, PANTS AND SHIRT AT $4.00.”

*****

Another ad for khaki suits for men—

The Bakersfield Daily Californian, May 31, 1902:

Hochheimer & Co. offers

“Men’s Khaki Suits, $3.50”
“Comfortable, sensible, durable suits for summer. These suits are made from the regulation army Khaki that Uncle Sam uses for his fighting men....Pants alone cost $1.45.”

*****

San Francisco Examiner, May 9, 1902:

“Rough Rider suits for boys, made of U.S. Government standard khaki cut like soldier’s suits with red or blue trimmings; ages 3 to 12 years; price, $1.25 a suit.”

*****

San Francisco Examiner for June 6, 1902:

“Vacation clothes for boys“
“School ends this week—the boy will be wanting to go on his vacation next. Get him the proper togs....We mention a few articles that will be of interest to the mother who wants to dress her boy properly and profitably. Rough Rider suits...made from U.S. Government khaki
first-class material, suits are made in the regulation rough rider uniform style, with long pants, neatly trimmed with red or blue; ages 3 to 12 years; excellent wearing goods—will wear the boy through the entire vacation; price but
$1.25 a suit.”

*****

San Francisco Examiner, July 5, 1903:

A store advertised a “Clothing Drive for Men”:

“The outing season we have had in mind and the garments shown here are particularly appropriate for this season of the year. They are all the newest summer weaves and colors....KHAKI CLOTHING $1.50 Coat, also trousers made of U.S. Khaki cloth.”

The year 1903 may have been a transitional period, for while the “outing suits” that this retailer had in stock were still made of all-wool flannel ($6.95), the store did have the following wares:

“KHAKI CLOTHING”
“$1.50–Coat, also trousers made of U.S. Khaki cloth. Well tailored.”
“$2.50–Norfolk coat of U.S. Khaki cloth”

*****

The August 15, 1903 edition of the San Francisco Examiner contained an ad for the “Famous Rough Rider Suspenders.” On sale for 25¢.

*****
From the May 8, 1904, SF Examiner:

“Rough Rider Suits $1.45”
“These are the genuine Rough Rider Suits for boys from 5 to 14 years of age, They were made to our order from the regulation khaki cloth and are facsimiles of the Roosevelt Rough Rider Suits. They are wholly unlike the so-called Rough Rider Suits that are offered at lower prices, as you will find upon inspection.”

*****

And back to the men’s suits—

SF Examiner, June 1, 1904:

“MEN’S KHAKI SUITS”
“MADE OF UNITED STATES STANDARD ARMY KHAKI”
“A SUIT $2.50”

*****

The October 7, 1906, Examiner:

A hardware store in San Francisco, fittingly enough, announced that “Duck Season Opens October 15th.” In addition to selling shotguns and cartridges, the store naturally sold “The Sundries” related to that activity: “Shotgun Cases, Decoys, Duck Calls, Duck Straps, Cartridge Bags, Shell Cases, Hunting clothing in khaki, corduroy and Duck, Hunting Shoes and Rubber Boots.”

*****

Levi Strauss & Co. states in its website that it “introduced khakis into its line as early as 1905.” By the spring of 1907, that San Francisco-based company was regularly running classified ads in the San Francisco Examiner for “KHAKI pants operators; steady work....Apply to Mr. Hindshaw.”

I do not know what the duties of a khaki pants “operator” were. Sewing machine operator? Anyone know?

*****

The Emporium was a venerable department store in San Francisco that went out of business around 1996. I bought a suit and a lot of Dockers there in the 1980s. The Emporium ran an ad in the June 1, 1907 SF Examiner:

“Sale Men’s Khaki Trousers”
“1,500 Pairs United States Army Khaki Trousers”
“They have double reinforced seat, are strongly sewed and well made throughout. The same trousers the United States Government purchased in lots of 100,000 for army use at $2.95 a pair. Just the thing for work or vacation use. Our price $1.50.”

*****

The June 15, 1907 edition of The Yale Daily News had this ad from a store called Pagter’s:

“A further reduction in all departments. We must close out all broken lots and so for balance of sale these prices will prevail.

“$4.65 for $8.00 Flannel Trousers
“$4.00 for $6.00 and $7.00 Flannels
“$3.00 for $5.00 Flannel Trousers
“$3.65 for Corduroy Trousers
“$1.35 for Khaki Trousers”

*****

In the June 16, 1907 edition of the Los Angeles Times, Dyas-Cline Company advertised these goodies for the women:

“Divided khaki riding skirts. $5.00
“Plain walking khaki skirts. $3.50
“Norfolk Jackets. $2.50
“Khaki Vests. $1.00
“Leggings. 50¢”

*****

And, again, something for the women. From the June 23, 1907, San Francisco Examiner: full peg top; coats the same price; made to sell at $2.00; ‘Magnet Brand,’ ‘Stronghold,’ and ‘Boss.’”

*****

As you can see, khaki clothing “grew up” between 1898 and 1910.

But what about the people who responded to those ads? What did those early adopters actually do while wearing their rugged new khakis? The stories of a few of them will be told in Part IV.
Fantastic information and work - thank you.

As you note, you can feel the evolution.

I assume none of these ads had any kind of illustration as I'm sure you would have posted them. Hence, I guess most of the sales took place in the store.
 

Charles Dana

Honors Member
Fantastic information and work - thank you.

As you note, you can feel the evolution.

I assume none of these ads had any kind of illustration as I'm sure you would have posted them. Hence, I guess most of the sales took place in the store.
Thank you! Several of the ads were illustrated by simple drawings; most were text only.
 

TKI67

Super Member
Just received an email from the clothing company Alex Mills.

It's a pretty new company that describes itself this way:

Timeless, not trendy, we take the core styles that every person wants and we do something radical: We don’t change them all that much.
We preserve what makes them iconic so you can stop searching for that perfect, uncomplicated jacket or shirt. It’s right here.
Wake up, get dressed, don’t overthink it. (Sounds nice, right?)
Alex Mill: Guaranteed to never go out of style.


Why I posted it here is because the email's subject line read:

"The Best Things In Life Are Khaki"

Followed by a series of pics of a man and woman in all-khaki outfits:
View attachment 49052 View attachment 49053 View attachment 49054 View attachment 49055 View attachment 49056

So here we are, 122 years after it started, and Khaki still seems to have currency even with some part of the young generation.

That's it, thought it was relevant enough to @Charles Dana outstanding thread to post.
I asked the Google to direct me to Alex Mills and checked their stuff. Although it is largely young and hip in its first impression, many of the details align with Trad, which I find hopeful. I especially liked the denim work jackets, very similar to French work jackets. I could absolutely see a prep school kid in the early 1960s appropriating that and starting a trend in his school.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
I asked the Google to direct me to Alex Mills and checked their stuff. Although it is largely young and hip in its first impression, many of the details align with Trad, which I find hopeful. I especially liked the denim work jackets, very similar to French work jackets. I could absolutely see a prep school kid in the early 1960s appropriating that and starting a trend in his school.
Agreed.

Also, if Trad is going to survive over the next several decades in some form, my guess is it will be more because of the Alex Mills than the O'Connells. J.Press is trying really hard to do both; it will be interesting to see how they do - I'm rooting for all of them

I bought a shirt from Alex Mills and my girlfriend has a few things and we've been impressed with the quality at its price point.
 

Charles Dana

Honors Member
I wonder if, in the early 20th century, they had the kind of Army-Navy surplus shops that we have had for a number of years now.
Here’s one example:

The Spiro Harness Company in San Francisco was not an “Army-Navy” store, but it was close; it billed itself as “The Army Goods Store.” In the San Francisco Chronicle dated June 25, 1913, Spiro Harness advertised a “U. S. ARMY GOODS SALE”:

“Some more new and interesting goods just received from the Government arsenals. CAMPERS, SPORTSMEN and VACATIONISTS will find specially good use for these practical, high-quality equipments the GOVERNMENT disposes to us on account of an oversupply. We bought a large supply of brand new goods from the U. S. WAR DEPARTMENT, and now offer them for sale at less than Government cost.”

Among other items, such as knapsacks, folding cots, and hammocks, Spiro was selling khaki shirts for $1.00 each and khaki pants for $1.50 a pair.
 

drpeter

Senior Member
Here’s one example:

The Spiro Harness Company in San Francisco was not an “Army-Navy” store, but it was close; it billed itself as “The Army Goods Store.” In the San Francisco Chronicle dated June 25, 1913, Spiro Harness advertised a “U. S. ARMY GOODS SALE”:

“Some more new and interesting goods just received from the Government arsenals. CAMPERS, SPORTSMEN and VACATIONISTS will find specially good use for these practical, high-quality equipments the GOVERNMENT disposes to us on account of an oversupply. We bought a large supply of brand new goods from the U. S. WAR DEPARTMENT, and now offer them for sale at less than Government cost.”

Among other items, such as knapsacks, folding cots, and hammocks, Spiro was selling khaki shirts for $1.00 each and khaki pants for $1.50 a pair.
Thanks, Charles. It sounds like a good deal. The government makes a bit of money on surplus goods, and people benefit from high-quality items. The items I have picked up from Army-Navy shops in the last thirty years or so have been of excellent quality and very nicely priced. I have also picked up some really fine things on eBay -- vintage field jackets from the 1950s and 1960s, especially, and also Navy pea coats.
 

Charles Dana

Honors Member
PART IV—SOME OF THE PEOPLE IN KHAKIS DURING THE FIRST DECADE OF THE 20th CENTURY

*****

(The Olympic Club is a private athletic and social club in San Francisco. It’s been around a long time and is still going strong. The Reliance Club was a similar organization located near San Francisco. It went bankrupt and dissolved in 1910.)

From the San Francisco Examiner dated June 30, 1902:

“WALK OF THE CLUBMEN
“Olympic and Reliance Unite in a Tramp into Mill Valley

“Seventy-five pedestrians of the Olympic and Reliance clubs took a sixteen-mile cross-country walk yesterday....

“No effort was made at competitive walking, but a pretty stiff gait was maintained all the way....The Reliance walkers appeared in their walking uniform, made of serviceable khaki suits, with knickerbockers, and looked so cool and natty that many of the Olympic men seriously discussed the advisability of following the idea and getting khaki suits for their regular tramps.”

(Evidently the Reliance Club members were more astute at dressing than they were at financial management.)

*****
The Los Angeles Times ran an article in its August 12, 1908 edition under the headline, “What to Wear on Tour”:

“What to wear on a motoring trip...resolves itself into the question of how to wear the least clothes possible. Khaki is the most satisfactory goods as it is washable and strong. Men on the desert, where the air is hot, leave off the coat and vest during the day’s ride and wear a woolen shirt or one of lightest khaki with loose rolling collar and light Oxford tie, [and] make a long linen duster serve as outer garment.

“Khaki trousers are the lightest goods that will look well, [and] the lightest underclothes, low shoes and thin hose complete the costume, except [for] a light hat with a wide brim instead of the usual cap, if no top is used to the car....

“Ladies will also find a khaki costume the proper thing for the hot ride up the center of [California]; a linen duster will also be found comfortable. Good clothes should be left in the suitcases or trunks for evening wear only....”

*****

Even after he left his khaki-clad military service behind, President Theodore Roosevelt remained a devotee of that utilitarian fabric.

The San Francisco Examiner for November 2, 1902 reported as follows:

“PRESIDENT GOES ON WILD TURKEY SHOOT

“In the fitful glare of locomotive lanterns, President Roosevelt at 4:30 a.m. stepped briskly from his private car in the railroad yards here [in Manassas, Virginia] and greeted cordially the little group of newspaper men, special officers and railroad men who had gathered to see him start on his hunt for wild turkeys. He was attired in a khaki suit, with leggins, a long heavy overcoat and a black slouch hat....”

*****

More khaki-related information about President Roosevelt, this time from the San Francisco Examiner’s January 27, 1905 edition:

“Professor Mike Donovan, boxing instructor at the New York Athletic Club, was invited by President Roosevelt to Washington last week, and he gave the President four lessons in boxing. The professor was very impressed with the President’s workout and says that after a few more lessons he will be able to cope with the best of them....‘I was dressed as I am now [said Donovan], but Mr. Roosevelt wore a woolen shirt, a pair of khaki trousers and canvas shoes. He’s a big man now, weighing, I should say, at least 200 pounds....[H]e insisted that I should hit straight and not tap, as he was going to slam them at me and wanted it to be even on the knocks....Take it from me, he can box as good as the best of them. Yes, a good puncher, too....Yes, I hit him and hit him hard, but he was as good natured about it as a boy....’”

*****

On May 30, 1907 in the San Francisco Examiner, an anonymous writer had a sardonic take on President Roosevelt, and didn’t overlook the Chief Executive’s well-known predilection for khaki:

“BE A PRESIDENT—Presidents receive high salaries, and are always in demand. The work is pleasant and the hours easy. Anyone born in the United States, who is over thirty-five years old, can ride horseback, shoot grizzly bears, call political opponents qualified tergiversators, play tennis, write 30,000 words a day for books, speeches and magazines, start expositions and trouble, wear khaki clothes, give advice to parents, editors, statesmen, cooks and haberdashers is eligible. YOU CAN LEARN TO BE A PRESIDENT AT HOME. Our outfit consists of one repeating rifle, two tons of copy paper,...a dictionary containing all the synonyms for prevaricator, and a complete course of instruction....EXPERIENCE IS UNNECESSARY....Write for particulars.”

*****
And this from the New York Times for December 6, 1909 about a man whose name might ring a bell:

“Tarrytown Surprised by a Glimpse of John D., Jr. on a Motorcycle

“John D. Rockefeller, Jr. has taken to motor cycling. The residents of Tarrytown were much surprised this afternoon when they saw him on his machine going north toward Pontico Hills. Mr. Rockefeller wore a khaki suit and had a sweater under his coat. He was not violating any speed laws and seemed to be exercising much care in guiding his machine. He was not going over ten miles an hour.”

*****

Coming up: A few more items about khaki prior to 1910, including the story of a special Teddy Roosevelt hunting trip and another one about a hapless man in khaki trousers. Afterwards it will be on to the 1910s and 1920s, finishing up with the 1930s.
 
Last edited:

Charles Dana

Honors Member
INTERLUDE

(Here’s my usual warning: You will think the details that follow are either interesting or mind-numbing. Proceed with caution.)

Military uniforms made of khaki fabric got their start with the British Indian army in the mid-1800s, and eventually were adopted by the United States military on a large scale during the Philippine-American War (1899-1902). While the United States was fighting it out in the Philippines, civilians back home began taking a liking to that durable fabric.

The early use of khaki clothing by the U.S. military has been well-documented. What I’m going to do here is flesh out the story a bit more with some details that are not readily available elsewhere.

In this section I won’t be discussing the civilian use of khaki (I’ll return to that topic in the next part). However, because the United States army’s hefty demand for khaki jump-started the khaki clothing industry in the civilian realm, the following information is indirectly relevant to this thread.

*****

The American soldiers who fought in Cuba during the Spanish-American War in 1898 wore khaki to a limited extent. However, khaki—which the United States government initially purchased from China (via Hong Kong if one newspaper account is correct)—was used extensively to outfit the troops who served in the subsequent Philippine-American War.

Because obtaining all of its khaki fabric from a foreign country would not have been a viable long-term practice, the United States government, according to the Los Angeles Times on April 28,1900, “awarded the first contract for its manufacture on December 28, 1898..., and since then millions of yards have been used for United States army uniforms....”

So exactly what kind of clothing was issued to the American troops who fought in the Philippines from 1899 to 1902? Here’s what the Los Angeles Times reported on July 31, 1899:

“Officials of the quartermaster’s department say that no troops were ever better provided for in the matter of personal apparel than the regulars now serving in the Philippines. The selection of garments has been made after a careful study of the clothing requirements for troops of other nations in tropical service....For every enlisted man of the regular service now in the Philippines there has been provided this comprehensive array of clothing: An unlined blouse, two khaki suits, two pairs of Berlin gloves for parade duty, a campaign hat, a cork helmet, a pair of leggings, a poncho blanket, two light-weight shirts, a pair of barracks shoes, a pair of russet shoes, three pairs of light-weight cotton stockings, two white duck suits, a pair of trousers of sixteen-ounce kersey [a coarse woolen cloth], two cotton undershirts, two wool undershirts, two outer shirts of gingham or cambray, two pairs of jean drawers, two nankeen shirts [a type of cotton shirt], two abdominal bandages, one mosquito bar [a mosquito net that fits over a cot or sleeping bag] and one mosquito head net.

“This complete outfit may be obtained by the soldier for $28.35 if he is an infantryman, or $1.40 more if mounted. It is not required that the soldier shall draw all these articles and have them charged against his clothing allowance, but everything enumerated will be on hand if required. Some of the articles the soldier is obliged to have.

“The cork helmets were manufactured especially for the soldiers in the Philippines, and the russet shoes, an innovation, are splendidly made, and would cost at least $4 a pair at a retail store. To the soldier these shoes cost $2.12....”

More on the U.S. military’s early appetite for khaki—

The New York Times, in its August 10, 1899, edition, stated as follows:

“Col. Amos S. Kimball, Assistant Quartermaster General of the Army, and who during the [Spanish-American] war was in charge of the New York Depot of the Quartermaster’s Department, which furnished most of the supplies for the army, has just completed a report of the work done by his office for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1899.

“...Bids for furnishing 50,000 khaki coats and trousers of American manufacture, samples to be submitted by the bidder, were called for.

“The report concludes with the statement that it would appear that there should be no difficulty in procuring all the khaki of American manufacture and of suitable quality and color to meet the wants of the department. It is urged, however, that all arrangements or contracts for the delivery of khaki goods should be made at least six months before the material is required for the manufacture of clothing.”

Precisely how did the United States military go about soliciting bids from the suppliers of, among other things, khaki garments? At least one method involved placing notices in major newspapers. Here’s a typical example so that you can see the exact wording of a request for a bid—this one appeared in The New York Times dated July 8, 1905:

“ARMY BUILDING, WHITEHALL ST, NEW YORK CITY, June 29, 1905.—Sealed proposals, in triplicate, will be received here until 1 o’clock P.M. July 10, 1905, and then opened, for manufacturing and delivering to the Quartermaster’s Department at either the New York or Boston Depots: 1,000 Khaki Coats and 1,000 Khaki Trousers, foot. Information and blanks for bidding furnished upon application. U.S. reserves the right to reject or accept any and all proposals or any part thereof. Envelopes containing proposals should be marked ‘Proposals for Khaki Coats and Trousers, to be opened July 10, 1905,’ and addressed to G. S. Bingham, Maj. and Qr. Mr., U.S.A., Depot Q. M.”

*****

Next: Back to civilian khakis
 
Last edited:

richard warren

Senior Member
When I tell colleagues the US is the most militaristic society in history, the reaction I get is less than enthusiastic agreement.

Yet here we see young women and hipsters advertised in garb directly derived from a military “intervention” 120 years ago, which was of course influenced by the prior adventure of the “Mother Country” in the subcontinent.
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
INTERLUDE

(Here’s my usual warning: You will think the details that follow are either interesting or mind-numbing. Proceed with caution.)

Military uniforms made of khaki fabric got their start with the British Indian army in the 1850s, and eventually were adopted by the United States military on a large scale during the Philippine-American War (1899-1902). While the United States was fighting it out in the Philippines, civilians back home began taking a liking to that durable fabric.

The early use of khaki clothing by the U.S. military has been well-documented. What I’m going to do here is flesh out the story a bit more with some details that are not readily available elsewhere.

In this section I won’t be discussing the civilian use of khaki (I’ll return to that topic in the next part). However, because the United States army’s hefty demand for khaki jump-started the khaki clothing industry in the civilian realm, the following information is indirectly relevant to this thread.

*****

The American soldiers who fought in Cuba during the Spanish-American War in 1898 wore khaki to a limited extent. However, khaki—which the United States government initially purchased from China (via Hong Kong if one newspaper account is correct)—was used extensively to outfit the troops who served in the subsequent Philippine-American War.

Because obtaining all of its khaki fabric from a foreign country would not have been a viable long-term practice, the United States government, according to the Los Angeles Times on April 28,1900, “awarded the first contract for its manufacture on December 28, 1898..., and since then millions of yards have been used for United States army uniforms....”

So exactly what kind of clothing was issued to the American troops who fought in the Philippines from 1899 to 1902? Here’s what the Los Angeles Times reported on July 31, 1899:

“Officials of the quartermaster’s department say that no troops were ever better provided for in the matter of personal apparel than the regulars now serving in the Philippines. The selection of garments has been made after a careful study of the clothing requirements for troops of other nations in tropical service....For every enlisted man of the regular service now in the Philippines there has been provided this comprehensive array of clothing: An unlined blouse, two khaki suits, two pairs of Berlin gloves for parade duty, a campaign hat, a cork helmet, a pair of leggings, a poncho blanket, two light-weight shirts, a pair of barracks shoes, a pair of russet shoes, three pairs of light-weight cotton stockings, two white duck suits, a pair of trousers of sixteen-ounce kersey [a coarse woolen cloth], two cotton undershirts, two wool undershirts, two outer shirts of gingham or cambray, two pairs of jean drawers, two nankeen shirts [a type of cotton shirt], two abdominal bandages, one mosquito bar [a mosquito net that fits over a cot or sleeping bag] and one mosquito head net.

“This complete outfit may be obtained by the soldier for $28.35 if he is an infantryman, or $1.40 more if mounted. It is not required that the soldier shall draw all these articles and have them charged against his clothing allowance, but everything enumerated will be on hand if required. Some of the articles the soldier is obliged to have.

“The cork helmets were manufactured especially for the soldiers in the Philippines, and the russet shoes, an innovation, are splendidly made, and would cost at least $4 a pair at a retail store. To the soldier these shoes cost $2.12....”

More on the U.S. military’s early appetite for khaki—

The New York Times, in its August 10, 1899, edition, stated as follows:

“Col. Amos S. Kimball, Assistant Quartermaster General of the Army, and who during the [Spanish-American] war was in charge of the New York Depot of the Quartermaster’s Department, which furnished most of the supplies for the army, has just completed a report of the work done by his office for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1899.

“...Bids for furnishing 50,000 khaki coats and trousers of American manufacture, samples to be submitted by the bidder, were called for.

“The report concludes with the statement that it would appear that there should be no difficulty in procuring all the khaki of American manufacture and of suitable quality and color to meet the wants of the department. It is urged, however, that all arrangements or contracts for the delivery of khaki goods should be made at least six months before the material is required for the manufacture of clothing.”

Precisely how did the United States military go about soliciting bids from the suppliers of, among other things, khaki garments? At least one method involved placing notices in major newspapers. Here’s a typical example so that you can see the exact wording of a request for a bid—this one appeared in The New York Times dated July 8, 1905:

“ARMY BUILDING, WHITEHALL ST, NEW YORK CITY, June 29, 1905.—Sealed proposals, in triplicate, will be received here until 1 o’clock P.M. July 10, 1905, and then opened, for manufacturing and delivering to the Quartermaster’s Department at either the New York or Boston Depots: 1,000 Khaki Coats and 1,000 Khaki Trousers, foot. Information and blanks for bidding furnished upon application. U.S. reserves the right to reject or accept any and all proposals or any part thereof. Envelopes containing proposals should be marked ‘Proposals for Khaki Coats and Trousers, to be opened July 10, 1905,’ and addressed to G. S. Bingham, Maj. and Qr. Mr., U.S.A., Depot Q. M.”

*****

Next: Back to civilian khakis
Interesting, thoroughly informative...once I got started, I couldn't put it down, but admittedly I read this through the eyes of one who has had almost a 60 year love of khaki! You my friend, should write a book...your talents seem many! Thank you for an enjoyable read.
 

drpeter

Senior Member
When I tell colleagues the US is the most militaristic society in history, the reaction I get is less than enthusiastic agreement.

Yet here we see young women and hipsters advertised in garb directly derived from a military “intervention” 120 years ago, which was of course influenced by the prior adventure of the “Mother Country” in the subcontinent.
Agreed, all the way. We in the US are perhaps as heavily militarized as any country has ever been, and the last time I checked (admittedly some years ago), we still had the largest collection of WMDs compared to any other country. That may have changed with other countries creating advanced weapons.

And yes, Britain became the "mother country" to all of us former colonials, although her primary purpose in colonization was to extract resources and wealth from the colonies, and then use the colonies as a market for British goods, along with heavy, merciless taxation. This sort of thing was what led to 1776 in this country. To the extent that they provided benefits like the railways, or schools and universities, these were to educate natives so they could serve the Empire. But they were much better rulers than the Belgians!

Khaki in India was not strictly a British invention but an invention of the Indians which was then adopted and approved by the British-- it was the Indian Army soldiers who stained their white trousers and tunics in mud or tea (there are stories to both of these substances). The British realized that this was better camouflage in the dun-colored Northwest Frontier Agency, and put their imprimatur on the practice, thus giving birth to khaki -- after all, the very word is Hindi/Urdu/Persian, from khak which means dust or mud in all three languages. I speak Hindi and some Urdu (the differences are mostly in words, the grammar being the same).

To me the two good things to come out of British colonization in India are khaki and cricket. In the game, the Empire is striking back, LOL. Most of the former colonies have very fine cricket teams, often performing much better than the English. This includes Australia, India, Pakistan and the West Indies. Others, like South Africa, Sri Lanka and Kenya are close. And the English side looks more and more like the United Colours of Benetton, with many former colonials in the team! The best part was when Ireland defeated the English at the ICC World Cup matches in India in 2011. I was in India and watched this match with utter delight.
 

Charles Dana

Honors Member
PART V— A FEW NOTES TO FINISH OUT THE FIRST DECADE OF THE 20th CENTURY

This brief section will include some social history along with the khaki talk. (There’s no way to separate the two, as will become apparent in the remaining sections of this thread.)

*****

Clarence Austin was a big wheel. He and his business partner, Frederick Grable, designed and built more than 70 high-end houses in Pasadena, California in the early 1900s. I don’t know how many still exist, but the ones that do continue to be highly regarded by people who buy and sell real estate in that community.

From the Los Angeles Times for May 7, 1909:

“BULLET COMES FROM BLANKET
“ODD ACCIDENT HAPPENS UPON BUSY STREET
“Bullet and Cloth from Khaki Trousers Lodge in Angler’s Leg....

“PASADENA, May 7.—Clarence A. Austin of the real estate firm of Grable & Austin was accidentally shot, the bullet of a 32-caliber revolver entering at the top of the lower part of his leg and lodging below the kneecap yesterday....

“The accident was peculiar in that the revolver was wrapped up in a bundle of blankets. Austin came from his home in his automobile, with fishing basket, rod and supplies necessary for a trip up the San Gabriel [River]....

“In front of the office of the Pacific Electric Railway Company
he hurriedly took his effects from the automobile, dropping his roll of blankets on the sidewalk. A muffled report was heard, and Austin announced that he had been shot. An ambulance was called....[An X-ray revealed] a serious wound, showing the bone splintered and [a] foreign substance, probably cloth from his khaki trousers, and the bullet lodged in the bone itself. The task of dislodging it was a difficult and painful one....”

Clarence Austin evidently made a full recovery. In the mid-1920s, he moved to Lake Hughes, California, which is about an hour and 20 minutes north of Los Angeles provided you don’t get car trouble. Despite his clumsiness, Austin was as much a mover and shaker in his new community as he had been in Pasadena. He built vacation homes, essentially turning Lake Hughes into a resort.

Mr. Austin passed away June 19, 1965 at age 80. I don’t know if the cause of death was a gunshot wound.

*****

From the Los Angeles Times dated October 31, 1909, this article is further evidence that, at least in Southern California, khaki at that time was supplanting tweed as the preferred fabric for outdoor garments:

“Walking for pleasure or exercise is an all-the-year round recreation in Southern California. Within easy access of Los Angeles, on mountain or by seashore, shady canyons or rugged slopes invite the excursionist to rest or healthy climbing.

“The fall months are the most delightful time of the year to scout about, and trampers in increasing numbers are taking to the trails whenever the opportunity offers. The ‘hikers’ can be seen on a holiday or a Sunday morning, dressed in khaki and wearing short top boots, and provided with blankets or provisions....”

*****

There are plenty of websites that explain the origin of the Teddy Bear. (The toy was inspired by President Theodore Roosevelt’s refusal, while on a bear-hunting trip in mid-November 1902, to shoot a tired, relatively small bear that some members of his hunting party had tied to a tree for the President’s convenience.)

The origin stories are easy to find. But they don’t tell you what the President was wearing on that hunting trip. (I don’t know why they would.) Since we’re on a clothing forum, I’ll pass along what the San Francisco Examiner reported in its November 14, 1902 issue:

“CLAD IN KHAKI

“The President was clad in hunting costume, khaki riding trousers, heavy leather leggins, blue flannel shirt and corduroy coat and wore on his head a brown slouch hat. Around his waist was buckled his cartridge belt and at his side hung his ivory-handled hunting knife.”

(By the way, even though Roosevelt declined to shoot the poor little bear, the animal didn’t go on to have a long, happy life. A member of the President’s hunting party—a fellow named Parker—killed the bear with his knife.)

Finally, here’s some information that is especially apt, inasmuch as it deals both with Teddy Bears and clothing. I doubt if you’ll find it anywhere else, unless you dig it out yourselves—

The selling and buying of cute little outfits (and patterns for outfits) for cute little Teddy Bears is a thriving business. And it’s an old one, at least when it comes to patterns.

As early as November 18, 1909, the San Francisco Examiner ran an ad for Teddy Bear clothes:

“Dame fashion has decreed that Teddy Bear must have an outfit as well as Miss Dolly. The two cunning little suits....are not at all difficult to make and will prove fascinating work for nimble little fingers. The Rough Rider suit is made of Khaki and will require one-half yard of 36-inch material for the 15-inch size [bear]. The overalls are of denim and will need three-fourths of a yard. The patterns are cut in three sizes: 12, 15 and 18 inches. A pattern...will be mailed to any address on receipt of 10¢ in silver or stamps.

“THE PATTERN DEPARTMENT
“THE SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER
“Folsom and Spear Sts., San Francisco”

Looks like good old Teddy was in on the lucrative accessories racket decades before Barbie got her plastic finger in the pie.

*****

NEXT:

1910 through 1919–
Khaki trousers solidify their place in the world of outdoor apparel
 
Last edited:

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
PART V— A FEW NOTES TO FINISH OUT THE FIRST DECADE OF THE 20th CENTURY

This brief section will include some social history along with the khaki talk. (There’s no way to separate the two, as will become apparent in the remaining sections of this thread.)

*****

Clarence Austin was a big wheel. He and his business partner, Frederick Grable, designed and built more than 70 high-end houses in Pasadena, California in the early 1900s. I don’t know how many still exist, but the ones that do continue to be highly regarded by people who buy and sell real estate in that community.

From the Los Angeles Times for May 7, 1909:

“BULLET COMES FROM BLANKET
“ODD ACCIDENT HAPPENS UPON BUSY STREET
“Bullet and Cloth from Khaki Trousers Lodge in Angler’s Leg....

“PASADENA, May 7.—Clarence A. Austin of the real estate firm of Grable & Austin was accidentally shot, the bullet of a 32-caliber revolver entering at the top of the lower part of his leg and lodging below the kneecap yesterday....

“The accident was peculiar in that the revolver was wrapped up in a bundle of blankets. Austin came from his home in his automobile, with fishing basket, rod and supplies necessary for a trip up the San Gabriel [River]....

“In front of the office of the Pacific Electric Railway Company
he hurriedly took his effects from the automobile, dropping his roll of blankets on the sidewalk. A muffled report was heard, and Austin announced that he had been shot. An ambulance was called....[An X-ray revealed] a serious wound, showing the bone splintered and [a] foreign substance, probably cloth from his khaki trousers, and the bullet lodged in the bone itself. The task of dislodging it was a difficult and painful one....”

Clarence Austin evidently made a full recovery. In the mid-1920s, he moved to Lake Hughes, California, which is about an hour and 20 minutes north of Los Angeles provided you don’t get car trouble. Despite his clumsiness, Austin was as much a mover and shaker in his new community as he had been in Pasadena. He built vacation homes, essentially turning Lake Hughes into a resort.

Mr. Austin passed away June 19, 1965 at age 80. I don’t know if the cause of death was a gunshot wound.

*****

From the Los Angeles Times dated October 31, 1909, this article is further evidence that, at least in Southern California, khaki at that time was supplanting tweed as the preferred fabric for outdoor garments:

“Walking for pleasure or exercise is an all-the-year round recreation in Southern California. Within easy access of Los Angeles, on mountain or by seashore, shady canyons or rugged slopes invite the excursionist to rest or healthy climbing.

“The fall months are the most delightful time of the year to scout about, and trampers in increasing numbers are taking to the trails whenever the opportunity offers. The ‘hikers’ can be seen on a holiday or a Sunday morning, dressed in khaki and wearing short top boots, and provided with blankets or provisions....”

*****

There are plenty of websites that explain the origin of the Teddy Bear. (The toy was inspired by President Theodore Roosevelt’s refusal, while on a bear-hunting trip in mid-November 1902, to shoot a tired, relatively small bear that some members of his hunting party had tied to a tree for the President’s convenience.)

The origin stories are easy to find. But they don’t tell you what the President was wearing on that hunting trip. (I don’t know why they would.) Since we’re on a clothing forum, I’ll pass along what the San Francisco Examiner reported in its November 14, 1902 issue:

“CLAD IN KHAKI

“The President was clad in hunting costume, khaki riding trousers, heavy leather leggins, blue flannel shirt and corduroy coat and wore on his head a brown slouch hat. Around his waist was buckled his cartridge belt and at his side hung his ivory-handled hunting knife.”

(By the way, even though Roosevelt declined to shoot the poor little bear, the animal didn’t go on to have a long, happy life. A member of the President’s hunting party—a fellow named Parker—killed the bear with his knife.)

Finally, here’s some information that is especially apt, inasmuch as it deals both with Teddy Bears and clothing. I doubt if you’ll find it anywhere else, unless you dig it out yourselves.

The selling and buying of cute little outfits (and patterns for outfits) for cute little Teddy Bears is a thriving business. And it’s an old one, at least when it comes to patterns.

As early as November 18, 1909, the San Francisco Examiner ran an ad for Teddy Bear clothes:

“Dame fashion has decreed that Teddy Bear must have an outfit as well as Miss Dolly. The two cunning little suits....are not at all difficult to make and will prove fascinating work for nimble little fingers. The Rough Rider suit is made of Khaki and will require one-half yard of 36-inch material for the 15-inch size [bear]. The overalls are of denim and will need three-fourths of a yard. The patterns are cut in three sizes: 12, 15 and 18 inches. A pattern...will be mailed to any address on receipt of 10¢ in silver or stamps.

“THE PATTERN DEPARTMENT
“THE SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER
“Folsom and Spear Sts., San Francisco”

Looks like good old Teddy was in on the lucrative accessories racket decades before Barbie got her plastic finger in the pie.

*****

NEXT:

1910 through 1919–
Khaki trousers solidify their place in the world of outdoor apparel
Great stuff. Love the series. It would have to be tweaked and edited to fit the particular publication's style, but I bet you could sell what you've done to some periodical or website. Unfortunately, that was a much better market before the blossoming of the internet, but content still has some value. Just a thought.

Separately, and of course, as he does so well, Ralph Lauren has found a way to bring together all the elements of Americana you just discussed in your note: Teddy Bears, Teddy Bear clothing/outfits and khaki:
b7140b47f3983ca75e9ee30c9f8da63c.jpg
 
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