Jonathan Logan inc. was a popular manufacturer of younger women’s dresses. They specialized in classic and dressy styles for an affordable price. The company was founded around 1940 by David Schwartz as a small company with ten employees. Schwartz was from New York and had originally started a company called ‘Gladdy Tru Size Dress Company’ with his friend before building up Jonathan Logan by 1937.
The designer in the early days was Dorris Varnum. Varnum appears in ads during the 1940’s. In an interview she stated that her designs “just happen” as she saw ideas in many things. She was born in California and lived in Los Angeles. Her career began in fashion modeling and the design position followed naturally for her. When working, she started her designs with a unique fabric, then created an idea from that. “Junior dresses are a style, not an age” she would comment.
Jeanne Carr would follow as the Jonathan Logan designer in 1955/6. She also began her career as a model, later working for Jeanne Campbell, the designer for the label “Sportwhirl”. Advertising with her name appears in 1956 and shows as late as 1960.
Probably the best know designer who worked for the company was Elizabeth “Liz” Claiborne who designed for the “Youth Guild” division from 1960 to 1975, leaving to start her own business at that time.
By the 1960s, Jonathan Logan had become the largest ready-to-wear clothing manufacturing company in the USA, and the largest in the world by 1969. They had 42 manufacturing plants worldwide.
In a 1969 interview with WWD, Schwartz boiled down his business acumen to three points — build your own team, create your own identity and establish manufacturing facilities. He became president of the Smithsonian Museum Archives of American Art, vice chairman of the Friends of Arts and Embassies, president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art American Wing and chairman of the New York State Council of the Arts!
The company also became the first women’s clothing company to be listed on the New York Stock exchange in 1960.
As an example of just how well-known and desirable a label Jonathan Logan was at the time, a 1961 article on the affluent post-war teenage culture of the day described the importance of dress and appearance to this consumer group by writing that “if [a teenage girl] is considered a good dresser, she wears labels. Her dresses are Lanz or Jonathan Logan.”
Throughout most of the label’s existence, it was seen as the “inevitable dress label for a junior miss” and was sold in upscale department and specialty stores.
In 1964, David Schwartz’s son Richard was made the CEO.
Jonathan Logan eventually became a collection of fourteen different brands, each geared to a different consumer group. Youth Guild, Betty Barclay and Butte Knit were some of their divisions. Butte Knit was established in 1959 in South Carolina and became the first company in America to produce double knit fabric. The entire process from spinning the yarn to producing the finished garment was all done in the Butte Knit factory, which was unique at the time.
‘Bleeker Street’ was created in late 1966 to promote the Carnaby Street Boutique popularity. It was in existence until about 1974.
By 1984, sales were dropping and the Schwartz family sold their interest in the company to United Merchants and Manufacturing. They filed for bankruptcy in 1990 and Jonathan Logan’s last remaining mill was shut down in 1991.
The Jonathan Logan label has become very sought after by vintage connoisseurs and appears regularly on Etsy and eBay.
Richard Schwartz passed away in 2016.
Check out our Jonathan Logan dresses below: