The Clutch Bag, 1930s
In his book Zipper, Robert Friedel explained that in 1923, handbag framers went on strike. With normal handbag production stopped, the manufacturers realized that a purse that closed with a zipper could be made by a seamstress, and would not need a frame. Men’s tobacco pouches already used zippers; a flat or fold-over purse was a logical development. Indirectly, the 1923 framers’ strike led to the fashion for clutch purses in the 1930s.
You could make your own quilted “Envelop” purses from a Butterick craft /embroidery transfer pattern, dated 1931. The fabrics recommended for these Art Deco bags are satin, flat crêpe, taffeta, or, for evening use, velvet. The pattern description doesn’t call for a zipper, but by 1931, according to Friedel, manufactured purses were using 35% of the nation’s zipper supply (p. 174).
Koret Bags for Spring, 1934
The Vintage Traveler has written on the Koret Company’s history and one of its later designers, Magda Makkay. [Koret of California, a sportswear manufacturer, was not connected to the Koret purse company.] In a 1934 Delineator article about accessories for Spring, several Koret purses were featured.
Above: “Accessories to wear to a chic luncheon include a string-leather belt with a metal buckle, Stern; a monogrammed [zippered] bag, Koret; and beige suede stitched gloves, Aris.” Above: “Town accessories for a tailored suit: a sharply striped silk scarf, Stern Brothers ; very flat envelop bag of fabric, Koret; perforated suede oxfords, Delman; clip watch.”
Above: “For a legal cocktail before dinner wear, with a black town suit, patent pumps with a strip trimming, Delman; and a bag to match, Koret; black suede gloves, Aris; and enameled cigaret case, Stern.” Prohibition had recently ended, in December, 1933, so it was possible to have a ‘legal cocktail’ for the first time in 13 years. The Delman shoe company and Aris gloves are still in business. Both women are carrying clutch, or ‘envelop’ purses with their Easter outfits, April 1934. [Butterick pattern illustration from Delineator magazine.]