"Sold Designs To" Means What?

When discussing that vintage Vandermere by Olga nightgown, that “sold designs too” phrase proved an ambiguous one — complicating things. Marilyn, of Midnight Glamour, and I had the following exchange to prove it! With her permission, I am sharing it here — because we both think it would be helpful to others in understanding not only vintage Vandermere and Olga lingerie, but in terms of using registered identification numbers (RNs) for identifying lingerie makers, dating purposes, etc.

Marilyn wrote:

I just read this on your blog:

Sadly, I have not as of yet been able to track down definitive proof of the actual relationship between Olga and Vandermere; I continue to hunt for it. (Another research item on the list! lol)

Here is the proof. This is the link to the Federal Trade Commissions site. Every manufacturer has to have an RN number on their clothing that is manufactured by that company as that is the law & they have to register their company with the Federal Trade Commission in order to sell garments.

See this link: https://rn.ftc.gov/pls/textilern/wrnquery$.startup

Olga’s RN number is 19090

[Search results for RN number 1909]

The same number is on many Vandemere gowns (the Olga-looking gowns with the spandex) showing that the Olga company was the manufacturer. The Viola gown has the RN number of 19090 showing although it was made for Vandemere, it was made by the Olga company.

You can alway check this site if the mfg label is missing but the RN number is still there & the majority of the time, the manufacturer will come up- even when they are no longer making clothing.

To which I replied:

Yes, but that still doesn’t prove that Olga “sold the designs to Vandermere” — Vandermere aka JC Penney was a distribution channel for Warnaco, which by 1984 owned all of Olga, so I doubt the designs were sold to Vandermere, but rather the pieces were sold through them.

Marilyn replied:

Olga did not sell the design to Vandemere – Olga manufactured them FOR Vandemere & that is a big difference – that is why Olga’s RN number is on some Vandemere gowns.

Olga did not manufacture all of Vandemere gowns as they had their own RN number – just that design.

“so I doubt the designs were sold to Vandermere, but rather the pieces were sold through them.” That is correct – they were made by Olga especially for the Vandemere Company.

A number of manufacturers back then made garments for other companies. I had an Intime peignoir set by Intime of California & it was mfgd for Lane Bryant – that is what mfgs did back then & it is actually being done today with appliances & electronics. Although it has their store brand on it, it is made by another well known appliance or electronics company.


As you can see, we agree!

What this comes down to his how you fine the “designs” in “sold designs to”.  Do you mean “designs” as the intellectual property (i.e. copyrights of pattern designs) or “designs” as actual garments (pieces of inventory); that’s the question.

In the case of Olga and Vandermere, we are talking about Olga (then part of Warnaco) having sold actual garments to Vandermere (aka J.C. Penney’s); the nightgown designs in terms of patterns & intellectual property remained with Olga (and Warnaco). In which case, Dixie Dallas‘s statement that “When Olga sold her gown design copyrights, it was to Vandemeer Lingerie” is incorrect.

I hope our little talk helps you discover more about vintage lingerie!

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