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Clothes Hanger Chronicles

It is said that happiness can be found in the simplest of things in life, the simple pleasures. Nothing more deserves that profile than the humble Clothes Hanger. An everyday item with an everyday function that probably acquires as much attention as a knife or fork. However, try living without Clothes Hangers for a few days and you will be presented with a disfunctional wardrobe and a cluttered home.

This fake ‘human shoulder’ was invented in 1869 by O.A North from New Britain, who took a piece of wire and got inspiration from a coat hook to devise a nifty attire accessory. Previously to this, it is documented that President Thomas Jefferson invented a wooden version, although nothing was ever patented. He possessed a particular penchant for fashion, and noted to be fairly clever at coming up with useful ideas and designs.

Soon after North’s bright new thing, Albert J. Parkhouse who worked for Timberlake Wire and Novelty Company, in Jackson, Michigan was also accredited with the Clothes Hanger invention, when he duly took on the task to find somewhere for his colleague to hang his coat. Grabbing the ends of a wire to create two large loops, then twisting them into the middle to create the hook. He popped the coat over and carried on with his work.


The patent was approved on January 25th 1904 under the company name with the owner Patterson assigning himself as the ‘name of ‘inventor’. Timberlake Wire and Novelty Company made a fortune, Parkhouse never received a penny.

The first retailer to use Clothes Hangers for displaying purposes, was in 1906 by Meyer May. He utilised a ‘wishbone’ adaptation for his gentlemen’s outfitters in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Some of these original hangers still remain and can be seen at Meyer May House.

Due to the reasoning behind its existence, it’s hardly surprising that initially it was only enthused by the privileged few and those with a wardrobe of precious clothes that warranted such special attention. Using this fancy gadget to keep pleats where they should, keeping layers plump and let rest any creases.

As manufacturing became more widespread and advancement in textile production improved, cloth became cheaper, subsequently offering greater affordability to common folk to buy more clothes. Demand for Clothes Hangers grew expediently.

So the modest Clothes Hanger having come from rather elite beginnings its life evolved as a household must-have, growing in popularity as well as versatility, shape, form and materials. As the idea adapted, manufacturers added an extra hook for hanging ties, belts, scarves and so forth. A folded version was fabricated which became very practical for travelling purposes.

In time the range grew to all the options we know and love today. From satin padded and scented, and from metal to plastic. Wooden favourites include walnut, lotus, painted and polished, along with user-friendly extras such as trouser bars, clips, extra notches, non-slip and velvet-texture varieties.

For a great range of modern, practical Clothes Hangers, please click here.

Image credit: patentplaques.com

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