Retro Fashion – Ponds clothing catalogues

Take a journey back in time and discover what Queenslanders were wearing way back when by flipping through our Queensland fashion catalogues. State Library of Queensland has recently digitised several fashion catalogues from the Brisbane firm Ponds. Ponds was a mail-order clothing firm and promoted itself as “the house that sells its frocks direct from manufacturer to wearer”. Aside from its workrooms where the clothes were manufactured, there was also a small showroom. The business was situated in South Brisbane from the 1920s to the 1940s.

Ponds sales catalogue, Summer 1939. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Ponds sales catalogue, Summer 1939. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

“Your frock is made on our own premises, by skilled dressmakers, each one a specialist in her particular section. If there’s one thing we like to do it is to show a customer how her frock is made and how she saves by buying direct from Ponds” – stated Ponds in their 1938 sales catalogue.

The effects of the Second World War on the fashion world was clear to Ponds’ clients in the 1941 Summer style catalogue – “The fashion trade is one that has been affected by the war in many subtle ways… Quotas and labour problems have cut down production to a large extent overseas ; however, the demand for fashion goods appears to be greater than ever before. The withdrawal of Paris and other inspirations, together with the radical change from season to season, has resulted in plainer, pleasingly tailored, sensible and bright fashion garments of which we can be proud…I know that there is no need for me to point out that it is our duty now more than ever to be smart and attractive for our loved ones. Therefore, let us have a little slogan to guide us. Dress well, be smart and V for victory.”

Ponds sales catalogue, Summer Fashions 1941. John Oxley Library Collection, State Library of Queensland

Ponds sales catalogue, Summer Fashions 1941. John Oxley Library Collection, State Library of Queensland

How much would you expect pay for a Ponds frock?

The evening dress on the left was valued at 29 shillings 11 pence in 1937. Today it would be approximately $130. The dress on the right is slightly less – 26 shillings the equivalent of $112 today.

You can view the following Ponds catalogues through our website – Summer Styles 1937 ; Winter Styles 1938 ; Summer Fashions 1939 and Summer Fashions 1941.

Here is a sample –

Ponds sales catalogue, Winter styles 1938. John Oxley Library Collection, State Library of Queensland

Ponds sales catalogue, Winter styles 1938. John Oxley Library Collection, State Library of Queensland

Ponds sales catalogue, Winter styles 1938. John Oxley Library Collection, State Library of Queensland

Ponds sales catalogue, Winter styles 1938. John Oxley Library Collection, State Library of Queensland

Ponds sales catalogue, Summer Fashions 1941. John Oxley Library Collection, State Library of Queensland

Ponds sales catalogue, Summer Fashions 1941. John Oxley Library Collection, State Library of Queensland

Ponds sales catalogue, Summer Fashions 1941. John Oxley Library Collection, State Library of Queensland

Ponds sales catalogue, Summer Fashions 1941. John Oxley Library Collection, State Library of Queensland

Ponds sales catalogue, Summer 1941. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Ponds sales catalogue, Summer 1941. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland