Henry Rosenfield │ The Budget-Minded Vintage Designer

A vintage Henry Rosenfield dress label in a black velvet dress
I came across the label Henry Rosenfield for the first time in my sourcing history (i.e. thrifting for vintage clothing for my Etsy shop).

Even though I've gone through hundreds of thousands of items of clothing over the years, this Rosenfeld is a first for a label. Which is incredible. A label prolific in the 1950s is basically extinct now. And finding this after 14 years of thrifting for pieces just like (and not finding it) is proof they're rare.

Finding vintage designer labels is thrilling. Not only does the look of a vintage label make my heart race, but getting to find out who the designer was is the icing on the proverbial vintage cake.

So, who is Rosenfield? Well, the lovely thing about the internet is its ability to shed light on a myriad of subjects. 

The Vintage Fashion Guild (VFG)  is an over-the-top, chock-full online encyclopedia that I reference regularly. They're the ones who have done the hard work and assembled a beautiful arrangement of designers, clothing, how to take care of vintage, and everything in between over many decades worth of items. 

VFG is an international organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of vintage fashion.

 According to their page, "Henry Rosenfeld started his career as a shipping clerk in Manhattan’s garment district. He worked his way up the ladder at Bedford Dress, Inc. before striking out on his own in 1942. Henry Rosenfeld was a budget label, with dresses ranging from $10.95 – $19.95 in the 1940’s. The dresses were well cut and simply tailored, which gave them an expensive look." 

He wanted to be the budget designer for women everywhere. He thought all ladies should have a beautiful look, regardless of the amount they paid for it. This core value is essentially the heart behind slow fashion. Quality fashion, affordable prices, re-wearing as long as physically possible.

It's sustainable fashion.

This mindset was forefront of his design and company because in the early '40s, materials and their availability changed due to the war. What was once plentiful, not so much.

I find it incredibly apropos that I found this budget-friendly velvet dress from the 1950s at a thrift store. Is there no better place to shop than when on a budget?

The cut of this dress is sublime. Simple, but body hugging. Essentially a wiggle dress. Judging by the label, this is the early '50s, just leaving the '40s when most dresses had their zippers affixed to the side, compared to down the back of the dress (which became more popular in the 1950s to now.)

The best part of this dress (quality) is the irony of it being a budget-minded dress. Yes, I thrifted it, but the quality of this dress transcends any modern velvet dress of today. 

A flat lay image of a sleeveless velvet dress
Vintage Rosefield Velvet Dress
The stitching, the velvet itself, even the zipper closure and collar lining... all of it oozes with vintage quality. If only he could see the fashion of today. 

Would Henry have been all about fast fashion? Would he have been all about pumping out clothing on the cheap just to get them into the arms of fashionistas everywhere?

I doubt it. His platform may have been budget-minded but it was all about quality. As VFG said,  the "dresses were well cut and simply tailored, which gave them an expensive look." It's no wonder he became a popular and in-demand clothing line.

The bottom line wasn't the goal for him the way it is for most retailers today.

I'm not sure if you've noted the in-expensive look most clothing has from today but, it's in no way similar to the budget-minded shoppers' clothing of today. Not even close.

Thank you Henry Rosenfield for your way of looking at fashion through the eyes of women who couldn't afford the best, but wanted to look their best. While a lot of women may not want to dress their best (that's a whole different article) I do know that most women want to look good, even if ultra casual or in athleisure wear (cringe).

Mr. Rosenfield, you were the beginning of the "buy less, buy better" movement in my eyes. Thank you for creating your fashion to let the working woman look like a million bucks.

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