October 1955 "Handbags & Accessories," page 56
So they say
Pertinent comment, general and particular, on. varied topics of current trade interest
Robert F. Wagner, Mayor of New York, at a meeting of handbag workers and employers last month at which pension checks were presented to 50 retired workers, said:
"It is a very great tribute to the wisdom and to the vision of the members of the Pocketbook Workers Union and of the ladies' handbag manufacturers of New York that this industry has been characterized throughout the past 20 years by a progressive approach to the numerous problems which must, necessarily arise during the normal course of industrial operations.
"You have experienced differences of opinion. And you have, at times, been beset by problems which must have seemed beyond the realm of amicable solution.
"This is not unusual; nor does it reflect any fundamental selfishness on the part of either labor or management. It is, as we all know, perfectly natural—in an undertaking which involves the interaction of human beings and economic problems—for both real and seeming inequalities to arise.
"What makes the situation in the ladies' handbag industry in this city very different from that which has, at times, existed in other industries, is the willingness of the leaders and the membership of both sides to bring their ideas and their grievances to the conference table—to work out the answers to those seemingly insoluble problems—and, in the final analysis, to enable each side to understand and to appreciate the problems of the other . . .
"Since the end of World War II, America's needle trade and fashion industries have been faced by the increasing challenge of foreign competition.
"During the decade following 1945, all of the apparel industries have had the difficult task of adjusting to economic conditions which have mirrored the recovery of the major European fashion centers from the ravages of six years of world conflict.
"This has been particularly true in your own field. Today, the ladies' handbag industry in New York must meet the competition of the entire free world. And it must successfully learn to compete with the European production centers.
"The American consumer is, today, more than ever before, conscious of the dollar-value of the products for which he spends his money—and he has learned to evaluate styling, materials and craftsmanship on the basis of their merit . . .
"It is no accident that this industry, which has grown tremendously during the past 20 years, has taken its place as a major factor in our fashion industry. Nor is it merely coincidental that New York City reigns today as the leading American handbag-manufacturing center.
"The New York market for ladies' handbags and fine leather goods novelties has a distinguished, century-long history, dating back to the arrival in our city of many of the finest English, French, Polish and German artisans— men and women who gratefully shared their skill and their creative genius in return for the priceless opportunities offered them in their adopted land.
"These workers brought with them a heritage of craftsmanship which enriched the American tradition of manufacture and which found ideal nourishment in the new, fresh atmosphere of free enterprise and competition."
R. S. S. Gunewardene, ambassador of Ceylon in the U. S., at the recent opening of the International Gift and Fancy Goods Fair in New York, said.
"It is an undisputed fact that the United States of America is the largest international market in the world and possesses, great potentialities for further development. Apart from this, the people of the United States have vast purchasing power. The United States, therefore, is a most fertile market for every foreign businessman who has a product to sell. There is also another factor that should be taken into consideration in assessing the possibilities of finding a market for the arts and crafts of other countries. I refer to a characteristic of the people of the United States, namely, a desire almost amounting to a yearning for newer and novel goods and they are in the happy position of being able to satisfy this desire because they have the money to purchase such articles and the impeccable good taste to appreciate the quality, workmanship and artistry of such goods . . .
"It is also important to remember that the value of a fancy article does not depend on its manufacture by hand or machine. There are some examples of expensive handicrafts which are rich and rare in conception and execution, attractive in design and command universal appreciation. On the other hand, there are machine-made articles that are distinctive in quality and workmanship and bear comparison with the best hand-made articles. Therefore, it would not be useful to stress or judge the virtues of hand-made articles, but rather to dwell on the distinctive quality of the article irrespective of its method of production so that the customer may be convinced of its peculiar merits." In the final assessment, it is quality that counts."
Cyril Magnin, president of Joseph Magnin Co., San Francisco, says:
"I think we are going to have to grow up along with national population trends. The trend, as we all know, is from the farm to the city. Downtown is far from a dying entity in the retail scene. I do not think the outlying areas have cut the volume of business in relation to previous years.
"As people leave the rural areas, they settle in suburban metropolitan areas. It is necessary, therefore, to bring the store to the customer. If we did not have suburban stores, downtown would become so congested, it would create a hardship on the customer. Yes, suburban areas are growing, but not at the expense of downtown.""