Last time I mentioned Madewell here you guys had a lot of feelings about so I am very excited for you to read this Dan Nosowitz piece, How Madewell Bought And Sold My Family’s History.
I stopped dead on Broadway, in the middle of the sidewalk, and stared, not up at the beautiful wrought-iron SoHo buildings, as would befit someone who’d moved to New York in the past month, but at an ordinary sign advertising a small clothing shop. The logo, a casual cursive scrawl with both E’s capitalized, jumped out at me like a beacon from a lighthouse somewhere deep in the back of my brain. That was the logo emblazoned on my baby clothes, the logo my great-grandfather created. It was, I thought, forgotten family history, the factories having shut down shortly after I was born in the ’80s. After a moment I took out my phone and called my mom and asked her what the hell was going on.
Nosowitz’s great-grandfather, a turn-of-the-century Russian immigrant, started the real Madewell, a workwear company (in the um, actual sense) in 1937. Mickey Drexler bought the logo, and the right to put “1937″ on all their shit, in 2006.
This piece is a wonderful reclamation of family history as well as a meditation on the (bastardized) notions of authenticity in consumerism. It totally upended my readerly expectations and I’m obsessed with it.