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that anything is more than all wool, and that is the very point at issue, that all wool” is misleading. In this case they emphasize that it is pure virgin wool, never used before.
Mr. Winslow. Does not anyone in this country make reference to the fact that the product is made of all virgin wool?
Prof. PLUMB. Yes, sir, now, but that is very recently.
Mr. Winslow. It is not in accord with what they are doing in England ?
Prof. Plumb. Yes, sir, there is one firm that does do that in this country.
Mr. Winslow. There has been no variation as far as legislation goes ?
Prof. PLUMB. This firm says, “nothing but pure wool." I would not have it understood that I take the position that there are not mills, plenty of them, in this country that are making absolutely pure virgin wool cloth.
Mr. Winslow. But when you get down to the reference to Scotland and England, it amounts to a voluntary act on the part of the manufacturer of clothing?
Prof. PLUMB. Yes, sir. I would like to call attention to the fact that the manufacture of shoddy and allied material was first introduced in the great cloth-producing section of England, in Yorkshire, and that is a great center of the production of the shoddy of the world, and it was introduced into this country following its development there. So the British people have produced plenty of that in the past.
Mr. Winslow. For how many years have we been using shoddy? - Prof. PLUMB. For about 60 years, according to such information as I can obtain.
Mr. WINSLOW. I would like to ask one more question that has grown out of what you have said and what others have said, that there is a demand on the part of the public for marking wools. Is that demand traceable, or can you give any evidences of such a call on the part of the consumer? Is that of record ?
Prof. PLUMB. Do I understand you to ask the question if there is a demand on the part of the public for a method of marking wools ?
Mr. WINSLOW. No, for having them marked.
Prof. PLUMB. No, sir, I am not advised excepting on the basis of recent agitation in behalf of having some means of determining whether one is purchasing pure virgin wool cloth or otherwise. That has been a proposition introduced largely by the wool producing interests as a means of getting protection.
Mr. Winslow. Well, now, taking it from the consumer's end, is there any tangible evidence of a call from the consumer for such legislation as is proposed ?
Prof. Plumb. Not that I am aware of excepting in the almost universal complaint. I am afraid that there are plenty of us who do not realize the fact that while there are a large number of producers of wool in the United States, all of those wool producers wear clothes. They recognize of what wool consists, and many of the men who have been buying clothing during past years bave discovered that the clothes they are buying to-day do not have the durability, the finish, nor the quality of the clothes they used to buy had.
ing interenslow. Wevidence of a
cloth? PLUMB. I do you knowde or lasts as
Mr. Winslow. Is there anything else that you know of besides cloth? [Laughter.]
Prof. Plumb. I do not quite follow you.
Mr. WINSLOW. Do you know of a single article that enters into consumption that is as well made or lasts as long as formerly, grade for grade and price for price?
Prof. PLUMB. At the present time? I do, yes.
Prof. Plumb. If you buy commercial fertilizers you have stamped on the sacks just what the composition is, and in every State we have to-day agencies directed by our State boards of agriculture and colleges of agriculture, by which we have a check on that material.
Mr. Jones. But Mr. Winslow does not need fertilizer. Laughter.]
Mr. WINSLOW. I do need fertilizer. I am a farmer myself. I have to buy fertilizer if I can get it. You spoke of that.
Prof. PLUMB. Yes, sir.
Mr. Winslow. What fertilizer do you know that you can buy at the same price, grade for grade, that you could buy 10 years ago?
Prof. PLUMB. None. Mr. WINSLOW. Now, then, when you pay the advanced price for it, you can get it, can you not, in about the same quality, same proportion?
Prof. PLUMB. Yes, sir.
Mr. WINSLOW. But if you want to get it for half the price you can not get it half as good. It will not be what you want. I'vrou insist that the public can not obtain, at a price, clothes that will war as long as those bought at a price five years ago ?
Prof. PLUMB. An individual may get a suit, but I would not sav that he could get suits.
Mr. WINSLOW. Probably he could not pay for them. Bui iny po is this, that the contention made on the part of the wool grower who complains because his clothes do not wear as long as they did before, is that he is considering not only the clothes and the wearing qualities, that he is not going by the former price of the same kind of goods. I do not think I made that very clear. If a man paid $50 for a suit of clothes five years ago, and they wore to his satisfaction he might well pay $65 for a suit of clothes now that would not wear as well as the $50 suit.
Prof. PLUMB. Yes, sir.
Mr. Winslow. But if he will follow up the $50 suit to $125, he may get clothes that will wear just as well, and the component parts of the clothes would be the same.
Prof. PLUMB. I might make this statement here, that I had a friend of many years who was a dealer in men's clothing, and a very honest man. He handled the various grades of clothes from the ordinary cheapest clothing material to the very best grades made in the American market, and he told me that the clothier makes his biggest profit on the cheap grades.
Mr. Winslow. That is a matter of trade. That does not determine the quality.
Prof. PLUMB. Yes, but it is on the basis, I take it, that the ingredients in those cheaper clothes enable him to make the bigger per centage of profit.
enough as things and have not been wech cases. Take tand has no
Mr. WINSLOW. It may be or it may not. It may be that he always made the greatest profit on the cheapest clothes, but I do not want to get you off on another line. We would never determine it.
I want to ask you this question definitely, if you can show in any way any facts to prove that the buying public has begun to complain because they do not know what is in the clothing they buy? Now, of course, you take the wool raisers, we know we have seen and heard enough of them here to realize that, naturally and properly enough as things go, after this agitation has begun you might begin to realize that clothes have not been wearing as well as they used to, but they are prejudiced witnesses in such cases. Take the consuming public, that knows nothing about the subject at all and has no interest other than in the clothing. Have you any of those, in any number, who say that they have not been satisfied in their ability to buy quality clothes at a reasonable price?
Prof. PLUMB. Of course, you could only take my word for the statement I made as bearing on a point like that, because there is no preparation to bring in such testimony here. I live in a city of 250,000 people. My work takes me in intimate contact with farmers of the State of Ohio, but I mingle and associate every day with city people and with large numbers of young men besides, and for years I have had this discussion presented to me by those people, “What is the matter with the cloth in our clothes to-day? Why can not we buy good durable suits of clothes to-day as compared with what we used to buy?” I think the statement I made in that connection would be verified by any number of people all over the United States.
Mr. WINSLOW. No one doubts your word. I am sure I do not. But I was wondering if there was any line of evidence acceptable, of a popular character, which would demonstrate the fact that this was one of the contended considerations on the part of the people in regard to their daily purchases. Now, maybe you are not the one to answer that question. Of course, there are leagues for investigating and reporting on those things, and as a rule when they expect to be given credence they come forward with testimony. They have done it before now.
Prof. PLUMB. I think representatives of the Bureau of Commerce and Labor would be the ones to investigate that question.
Mr. WINSLOW. There are trade commissions, fair-trade leagues, and consumers' leagues and others who expect when they make a statement like that to back it up with real facts. I was anxious to know if from your viewpoint you had seen any accumulation of evidence of that character ?
Prof. PLUMB. No, sir; I have not. Mr. Sims. It was an old saying that seeing is believing. I was old enough during the Civil War- literally-in other words, I was 8 years old when the war commenced. I lived in Tennessee where all interstate trade ceased. You could not buy anything in the entire country and bring it into your State or community. So the women had to go to manufacturing everything that was needed of wool or cotton, and there were no other goods to be worn by anybody except these homemade fabrics. They had to make what was called jeans. The wool was grown right there and it was carded and spun by hand and woven by hand, and it was dyed with barks which made it brown or black, and brown jeans suits made by those women at that time out of pure wool and dyed only with vegetable dyes would last three or four times as long as what was commonly known in the country as “store clothes.”
Prof. PLUMB. Yes. Mr. Sims. And having these looms made at home, and having acquired practice and the knowledge, homemade jeans and homemade blankets were made for a number of vears after the war was over. And why? Because they were so much better, so much more durable that it was economical to make them. But as time went on they began to sell the "store blankets” considerably cheaper, and the people quit manufacturing their own products. But in that way it was proved beyond any question that the homemade product was made out of better raw material, and that a piece of all-wool goods,
made, honestly woven, honestly dyed. You could not find that anything was as good as homemade, and you would be getting the highest value as to durability, not as to finish and looks, and not as to feeling, but as to an honestly made product and the time that it would last. A homemade blanket would last 20 or 25 years. Now it seems to me that if that was the effect of using pure virgin wool in manufacturing honest goods to be used by the people who manufactured them and not to be sold at a profit, and if goods made out of virgin wool without reference to deceiving anybody as to honest wear, honest durable goods, and were therefore economical and beneficial to the people, outside of the loss of time the individual would have to lose in making inferior goods, why can not homemade clothes now be better than "store clothes ?”
Prof. PLUMB. I would like to say, Mr. Winslow, as a partial reply to your question, about whether the consuming public is dissatisfied or not as to the quality of their clothes, that it has not been referred to before in these hearings, but the retail clothiers in many sections of the country have come out in very strong terms in favor of some legislation that would result in a more satisfactory character of the material in clothing. I have been present at conferences of wool men where those prominently identified with the retail clothing trade have taken the floor and put themselves on record to that effect. If that is not the best evidence in the world in favor of this legislation, why then I do not know what is good evidence.
Mr. WINSLOW. Are there any resolutions of that character which are available ?
Prof. PLUMB. Yes, sir; I think they can be presented by others than myself.
Mr. STINESS. The object of this bill is to prevent people from being deceived in the purchases of clothing, is it not?
Prof. PLUMB. Yes, sir.
Mr. STINESS. The average man who is not a member of this committee and has not been attending these hearings would, if he wanted a suit of clothes, go to a customs tailor and say, “I want a spring suit. Show me what you have." He would take down different rolls of cloth and show them to the man, who would pick out a thing that suited his fancy for color or for style or something of that kind. Do you think that one out of a great number would even ask any. thing more than this, “Will it wear well ?” and if the tailor tells him it will, he would have a suit made from that, providing that the price was satisfactory. What is your opinion about that ?
Prof. PLUMB. The men who go to a tailor are the most particular buyers of clothes, to start with. They are the people that can best afford to pay a good price, and the commercial tailor ordinarily does carry a good line of cloth.
Mr. STINESS. Now, the man who goes there relies on the tailor, does he not?
Prof. PLUMB. He certainly does. Mr. STINESS. He asks, “Does this wear well?" and the tailor says “Yes.” I have been wearing clothes a good many years, and I never in my life heard of virgin wool until this hearing. And I never asked whether it was all wool or not. The man who goes to a customs tailor does not want to get the last hour of wear out of his clothes. He gets tired of his suits. It gets shiny on the back, but it is not worn out.
We will go a step further. We will say he gets a suit of clothes from Parker, Bridget & Co. or such a store. How is it to be marked ?
Prof. PLUMB. The bill specifies.
Mr. STINESS. I have not it in my mind. I did not know but you had it.
Prof. PLUMB. It is to be marked with a strip of cloth with a statement of the percentage of virgin wool, shoddy, etc.
Mr. STINESS. And if the cloth is pinned on the suit it can be unpinned, can it not ?
Prof. PLUMB. I presume so.
Mr. STINESS. And if they asked the same question of the salesman in the store, “Does it wear?” and he told the customer it would wear well, it would be taken by the customer, would it not?
Prof. PLUMB. I surmise that any requirement of the law relative to tagging or anything like that would be as vitally necessary in the case of a suit of clothes as it would be on a sack of fertilizer.
Mr. STINESS. In some departments such as the Shipping Board, take the average men employed there, do you think if they went into a store to buy a suit of clothes that they would ask these questions as to whether it was all wool or anything of the kind? Would not the first thing that they would do would be to ask whether the suit would wear well?
Prof. PLUMB. I should say if they do not ask those questions that the people from that group of laborers would represent a very small minority of the people who wear clothes.
Mr. STINESS. I think they are an average class of highly skilled laborers in that department.
Prof. Plumb. If you were to go about among laboring people, we will say in Europe, you would find plenty of those people (or you would find it so at least before the war, and I speak from experience) all over Europe, just the commonest people, are very familiar with what is in our ordinary garment material. They can talk to you about linens, they can talk to you about woolens, and they have very pronounced views about the subject. It is just common everday information among the people. Now, I do not think we could keep in mind all of the various minute details of a certain brand of goods. We can take some types of goods that are made into clothes that may