I'm Nigel Bamforth, and I'm a conservator in the Furniture and Wood and Dress department of the Victoria and Albert Museum. In the Sixties and Seventies I worked for Mary Quant, and I was the Production Manager based in South Molton Street, and I worked for I think about six years, so that covered a period when the Quant range was perhaps at its height. In the mid-70s the organisation then diversified. The name was branded to cover several areas, and they marketed the brand name 'Mary Quant', and the logo, which is the daisy logo - it was marketed fairly early on - so by the late 60s there were licensees for Gala Cosmetics, who produced the Quant cosmetics range, and that range I think was iconic really for young people. It took them away from cosmetics that perhaps their parents would have worn, so it was looking towards something new.
The fashion itself sold - although it was such a big name - the quantities of production were actually very small, especially by today's standards. Everything was produced in the UK, so it wasn't farmed out to overseas countries and it was very small, the production. The buyers would see the ranges in South Molton Street, and there were fashion shows with fantastic models. They were mainly aristocratic backgrounds and from society and they were doing it because of the name. They weren't doing it for the money at all. And they were great fun, and we had a huge tremendous amount of fun. Once the shows had taken place, the customers would then book their orders, and then from then on it would sort of move on into the production area. The average production perhaps was only two or three hundred of a style, and some weren't even that, some were sort of sixty, eighty of a style which is negligible by today's standards. But one does have to remember that today we think of Quant things as being perhaps the mass-market, but they weren't at all the mass-market, they were really for the selected few. They were expensive, and dresses were then, a lot of them were I think probably retailing at twenty - twenty something - pounds, so if you multiply it by today it would be perhaps two hundred pounds, so they were in a market that was quite different to just sort of high-street, and the quality of all the cloths was generally quite reasonable, but everything was produced in England and really around the London area.
And this, this is one of a whole range of garments, so I think there are about six or seven that were within this theme, and this is just one of them. It's a jersey with a backing and everything in that era was made with this backing, so you've got dresses and A-line dresses and then the problem that happened was it de-laminated in the wash and de-laminated with cleaning spirit so you'd have lots of returns because there'd be bubbles where bits weren't stuck on, and it just meant really you were giving fabric a lot of body that actually didn't really have it, and it was really a cost-cutting exercise really.
And they did feel, and the Quant sort of set-up did feel that it was a family, and it was a family business though it did grow to be an empire, it was at heart a family business, and it was small, really very small, because the premises in Ives Street you know are very small. So it was only Ives Street and South Molton Street. I do look back with fondness. And perhaps the most fondness within my career within clothing and textiles is at Quant because of the fun time really, and the fun people, so that a job is the people you work with.
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