The Tirocchi sisters established business relationships with vendors from the earliest days of their business. In the beginning, they ordered fabrics and trims and notions with which to make the custom gowns ordered by their clients. A little later, they added lace and fine lingerie to their offerings. Still later, as ready-to-wear clothes and department stores challenged their business, they added ready-made garments and accessories such as handbags, hats, and scarves to their inventory. All of these items had to be ordered from manufacturers and suppliers.

Business in the early twentieth century was done more often by correspondence than by telephone, which was still somewhat of a novelty. The Tirocchi archive contains letters from vendors to Anna Tirocchi, and copies of letters she wrote to them, all typewritten.

Some of the letters contain instructions from Madame Tirocchi to a supplier about how the garments she had ordered were to be customized. This practice was common among the "ready-made couture" vendors who sent out model books with illustrations of dresses that could be ordered and tailored to a customer’s needs and desires. Unlike ordering from a catalogue today in which only size and color can generally be specified, in this era, a dress truly could be customized with different details of styling and fabric and trim.

Madame Tirocchi was not timid, either, about writing to her vendors to complain about merchandise that arrived late, or not to specification, or of inferior quality. She stated plainly just what she expected the vendor to do to rectify the situation. She also wrote to return garments that weren’t right or didn’t sell or were refused by the client.

There is also correspondence in the archives from vendors demanding payment. If Madame Tirocchi’s customers were slow in paying her, she was often unable to pay her own bills. This becomes awkward on occasion. There is even a copy of a letter in the archives from a customer to one of Madame Tirocchi’s vendors explaining why she couldn’t pay the shop yet. Evidently Anna had prevailed upon the client to write in hopes that the vendor would give her more time on her account.

All these letters reveal the nature of a dressmaker’s business, with all the timing problems and difficulties that stemmed from a business based on the whims and controlled clothing budgets of a female clientele. They reveal Anna Tirocchi as shrewd businesswoman and they help scholars trace links between established vendors and their customers.

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   Sources and Methods
   The People
   The Business
      Address Books
      Shop Announcements
      Bills   |   Day Books
      Employee Address Book
      Inventory   |   Ledgers
      Letters   |   Payroll
      Time Books
      Travel Records
      Vendor Account Books
      Vendor Invoices
      Vendor Letters
      Vendor Promotions
   Custom Dressmaking



You can read some of the vendor letters in the Correspondence Database.