Tag and dating
The design with AFL-CIO was introduced to the label after the AFL (American Federation of Labor) and CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) unions merged on December 5th, 1955 under the ILGWU.
ERA: 1964 to 1973 LOOK FOR: Scalloped circle in front of a needle and thread, but placement of words has changed.
The scalloped circle has “INT’L LADIES GARMENT UNION WORKERS” written around a backdrop of ILGWU with AFL-CIO printed in white lettering in front.
There is no “R” for rights on the label (you see the R emerge in 1964).
HISTORY: The scalloped crest in front of a needle and thread was adopted in the ’50s.
If you see an ILGWU union label without one, you can conclude the garment was made pre-1950s.
Below is a brief timeline breaking down the different designs by period so that you can at least compare any of your older garments against this information to verify its age.
Further description (without images) available thanks to Ebay’s union label guide by ikwewe.
2004 – UNITE HERE ERA: 1955 to 1963 LOOK FOR: The words “UNION LABEL” above a scalloped crest in front of a needle and thread.
Vintage clothing pickers and sellers often use ILGWU union labels to help identify the general era a piece of clothing was made because the union tag’s design (which has changed 8 times since 1900) can help narrow the garment’s age within a window of approximately 10 to 20 years.
To conclude a garment’s exact era, it’s recommended that you use my Dating Vintage as Clothing and 5 Ways to Date the Age of Vintage Clothing for more help, and subscribe to my newsletter for dating vintage tips only available to subscribers.
HISTORY: The quintessential design of a scalloped circle with needle and thread disappears because the ILGWU merges with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers of America (ACTWU, men’s clothing union) to form UNITE!
By 1995, Americans were buying more clothing than ever produced in countries abroad. A.” The union also represents some clothing production in Canada.