1960's Alexander Shields Park Avenue Men's Tweed Sport Coat

This example illustrates how a common vintage garment may be turned into something saleable as a collectible, and thus of higher value, by simply sewing into it a fake 'designer' name label.

Here we have a rather common, off the rack and now somewhat frumpy-with-age, men's tweed sport coat, with its lining askew. It was not made by the well-known designer Alexander Shields, but, the label sewn inside it bears his name and the address of his company in New York, stating him to be its maker.

Nothing about the coat suggests it was finely tailored, or that it could really be an Alexander Shields design. Nothing, that is, other than the false label someone added.

This item is a two button, patch pocket jacket, with buttons on the sleeves, a notched collar, and vent in back. When new, this type of sport coat would have been available in the men's department of most department stores.

Alexander Shields was an upscale clothing designer/maker known primarily for the luxury, style and quality of the men's clothing he made from the 1950's through the 1970's. He won the American Fashion Critics' Awards 'Special' award, which honors noteworthy contributions to fashion, for 'excitement in menswear' in 1972. A family member explained Alexander's artistic vision thus: "He believed in the calculus of clothing....". Advertisements run in the New Yorker before his company closed stated simply, "For men who believe style is more important than fashion."

An Alexander Shields-made jacket would never have had a breast pocket, nor buttons in excess, as this jacket does with two buttons on the front and three dangling off each cuff. An authentic Shields jacket would never have had a two button front closure, at all. Some Shields designs were given one button to close, but most usually they had no buttons. Compare also the differences in quality easily recognizable between the labels shown. We show two examples of the fake labels currently making the rounds. One was inside the jacket shown, the other was taken from inside another coat. Both labels look the same (with the top hat included in them and red edging), both are made of low quality fabric and the finish is mediocre. Each also shows evidence of being haphazardly sewn around the edges to attach it to the garment. Look closely at the fake Alexander Shields 'signature.' It differs from an original in ways that the casual glance won't catch. Specifically, compare the way the 'A and 'l' in Alexander are joined (in the fake label they join at the middle of the 'l' while on the original they join at the top of the 'l'); and also note how the capital 'S' in Shields is formed (the fake label shows a rounded curve at the bottom of the letter, while on the original, the bottom of the S is made with a sharp angle, like an elbow).

As prices for collectible vintage clothing rise so, inevitably, must the instances rise of false labeling. The item in this listing may also serve as an example for how hurtful fakes can be to collector and dealer alike, as the value of their collections, or inventory, takes a hit. A box of fake 'Alexander Shields' labels may be ordered from a supplier today like office supplies. So many men's garments have already had these cheap, spurious labels affixed to them prices for authentic pieces by that maker have dropped precipitously. To buyers it seems as if there are more than enough articles with his label in them to go around, so why be willing to pay more for the name? But, of course, the 'glut' of available garments is only an illusion.

The educated buyer can always put advanced knowledge to use. In the future, when information about fake Alexander Shields labels becomes more widely known, the prices for authentic vintage Alexander Shields labeled men's luxury fashions may likely rebound with a vengeance. Learning how to winnow the authentic from the fake will always be a worthwhile pursuit, whether collecting vintage fashion or antique porcelain.

If paying for a 'designer' name in clothing, buyers should always maintain an awareness of the reality of fakes on the market. This particular designer's name is only being offered here by way of example. It is certainly not the only 'name' clothing label being faked today. Although it is of course not the only characteristic that should be examined for judging the potential for authenticity, a buyer should always ask to see what the designer's name-brand label attached to a garment looks like before they buy.

Approximate size: 42R

Item ID: 2007RP000193

Modern Reproductions, Fakes and Fantasies


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