The Van Raalte Company

In 1905 brothers Emanuel and Zealie Van Raalte went to work with Robert I. Levy at the firm of Oppenheimer and Levy, an importer of “veilings”. When Levy retired in 1907, the brothers established the E. & Z. VAN RAALTE COMPANY in New York City. At the time all veils were imported from France and England, and the Van Raalte brothers realized there was an opportunity to start manufacturing quality veils in America. In 1910, in Patterson, New Jersey, they established the first American veil-producing factory. Patterson has tremendous waterfalls and they were a great source for powering the factory. The business became so successful that by 1920 it was the largest silk-veiling and net factory in the world.

The company branched out to manufacture and sell silk jersey cloth, gloves, underwear, and hosiery. By 1920, they had 12 factories throughout New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. These included Niagara Mills (Tonawanda, New York) which the VAN RAALTE Company purchased in 1918, the Clark Mills which they purchased (for $1.8 Million) in 1919, and the Pelgram & Meyer Mills in Boonton, New Jersey.

The company sold its products through all of the upscale department stores of the day, and they became known for their high level of quality. Their company slogan was “VAN RAALTE: Because You Love Nice Things”.

The two sons of Emanuel: Byron and Morton, and the two sons of Zealie: Benjamin and Arthur all worked at the Company, continuing after the deaths of their fathers. In the late 1920’s (1927?) the decision was made to sell the company to Goldman Sachs and Lehman Bros. There are several theories as to what prompted the decision to sell, but no definitive reason has survived the years. The Company was still a leading manufacturer in its field and its name and products were highly respected. The new owners kept the name, product lines, and slogans and it became a publically traded company with shares on the American Stock Exchange.

The company prospered through the years and was the first to produce stockings made with Dupont’s new “nylon” fiber in the late 1930’s. By 1965 the company had sales of over $70 Million. In 1970 VAN RAALTE was sold to the Cluett, Peabody & Co (the Arrow shirt company) and then again in 1977 to the Kellwood Company. In 1994 Warnaco acquired the Van Raalte trademark for apparel, and the following year sold Van Raalte bras and products exclusively through Sears stores. Production of Van Raalte products eventually ceased by the end of the century.

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Company Materials & Documents

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Promotional Materials & Adverstisements

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Van Raalte Silk Gloves

Van Raalte Advertisements from the early 1900s