I collect a lot of different vintage brands, but Sportaville still stands as one of my favourite. I have about 15 pieces by the brand and I am always on the look out for more, but have also been fascinated by the company too (owned by parent firm Saville Sportswear). Whilst I was doing my MA I wrote a post about the brand (you can find it here) and an ancient A-in-V post (you can find it here). Anyway, whilst doing my PhD research I have managed to come across a fair amount more about the brand- and also have been able to date a couple of skirts in my collection.
All of the information came from a REALLY (like painfully) dull British trade journal called Women’s Wear News- it seems for a short period in the late fifties they had a pretty strong connection with Saville Sportswear as there are quite a few articles that feature the brand.
First off I came across a wonderful ad from April 1958, featuring one of my skirts
The text reads as follows; ‘this is the seasonable American designed minimum iron sailcloth skirt that’s the talk of the town. The colour combination is a poem in harmony-white background with pale lilac grapes and labels. The skirt is very full and lined throughout with a villein petticoat, Stiffened hem. Exclusively Sportaville- excitingly new and different!
And here is the skirt in question!
Then, i came across the show report in the same journal (from a few weeks later).
Here is the relevant part ‘At the beginning of the Summer collections i mentioned the beautiful skirt illustrated above. This proved a winner, and Saville Sportswear, the makers, are having the material reprinted to include it is their mid-season collection. As well as being dyed in lovely lilac shades the new coffee and cream combination is being added.
The skirt has an attached stiffened Vilene underskirt and a band of stiffening is inserted in the hemline. Wholesale price is 45s 9d.
Dyed to match is a lilac blouse in non-iron drip dry poplin with a boned tailored collar. The sleeves are set-in and three-quarter length and the wholesale price is 21s.
Vintage cars with fringed hoods make an attractive motif on another mid-season skirt. Cut on a full circle, and in waist sizes 24-28 inches, large vintage cars separated by lamp-posts circle the villein backed cotton skirt. The lower edge is trimmed by deep fringing.’
The skirt mentioned in the final paragraph is another that I have in my collection seen here! Unfortunately this is quite badly discoloured (a dry clean did not help it at all) so if anyone has any top tips on sprucing it up, i would love to hear!
The magazine also features a few other excellent examples of novelty skirts- I don’t own any of these ones, but I wanted to share regardless as they are SO good!
The last two come from post Saville Sportswear’s move to Bruton Street in late 1958- I was also lucky enough to find a picture of the interior of their plush new showroom (which features in the 1960 video in my Unmaking things post linked to above)
So- what have I learnt from this? well- primarily that Sportaville WERE using American designers for their prints- this makes sense as to why I have seen the car print skirt with an American label in it!
And also… if anyone has any Sportaville skirts they are thinking of letting go of- let me know, I’m always after more 😉