Harrods & the Green Man
Green Men have often been viewed as ambassadors for Harrods' indentity
Ways in which Green Men replacement for WWI led to female empowerment within the 1920's.
1910 the First Harrods' green clad doormen are employed. They become known as 'The Green Men'
Women replacing Harrods Green Men
Before the roaring 20s, women had a role that had never been given to them. Due to the increase in men being sent to World War One, the shortage of men created job opportunities for women. Now replacing the men in the workplace, women found themselves becoming the 'Harrods Green Women'.
Unfortunately documentation of Harrods' Green Women was not prevalent, it allowed women not only to become consumers of materialistic goods but stand behind a business and become part of Harrods' historical man lead business. This change however was not kept for long, as the end of World War One on 1918 lead men back to their jobs, replacing the women. A few years later, in the 20's women presented values that questioned the idea of female femininity that had been set within the 19th century.
Women Recruitment in the workplace (1915-1918)
During the early 20th century, Europe found itself battling through a world war. Compulsory conscription in 1916 meant that men left their workplace to go to war. There was initial resistance against women being hired to do what had been seen as 'men's work'. However, quickly enough the lack of a workforce urged the government to begin coordinating the employment of women through recruitment drives.
Work formerly reserved to men was now possible for women. This new found freedom allowed women to become to counterpart of a then man led world. However, wages were lower for women doing the same work, this caused women to begin questioning their identity as females and how they were seen lesser than men. This was the starting point of feminism and female empowerment, where women began demanding for equal pay and equality.
Women had prospects to remain in the workplace even after the war, however quickly enough many were sacked from their jobs to be then once again replaced by their male counterparts. Moreover, perception of women as being 'lesser in strength' caused many women to be replaced when these men came back. Allowing women to experience such drastic changes from their reserved life caused an uproar in the leading decade - the 20's. Women who had worked, sacked and deemed as unfit for work once again after war, caused many to question their importance within society. Quickly enough women presented new attitudes that expressed female empowerment.
Harrods News' Cover 1925
Looking at this cover, the silver monotone colour scheme shows wealth and the target audience that Harrods projected to. Not only was Art Deco mainly impactful and predominant for the wealthy, but it also pushed middle class to achieve this new found wealth that was circulating the decade. In america, many people started believing the American dream was an attainable goal, similar attitudes were persistent in Europe as well.
Questioning Gender Stereotypes
As mentioned earlier, Flapper were highly influential women that did fit in with the pre set mould of female looks. The young generation of women on the 20's rebelled against these roles by cutting their hair short, wearing short skirts. Not only were flappers doing the polar opposite of remaining modest, they also started mimicking male habitudes. Smoking, drinking, driving automobiles as well as not being afraid to break sexual norms.
Connecting Green Men to Flappers and the Roaring Twenties
Quickly after WW1, females had been given the chance to experience the workplace, as well as be an active person within their community and country. the shortage of men within every day life allowed women to explore the daily running of; businesses, factories etc. This insight within power and freedom was not forgotten by the women.
By the end of WW1, women felt empowered, however quickly diverted back to their less important and hands on roles within the system and society. The power of being in a man's position allowed the flourishing of Flappers and other women to oppose these pre set standards that had been withheld on them for so many centuries.
Art deco and the Roaring Twenties shows insight in women not bring scared in expressing themselves sexually as well as intimidating. Smoking, drinking and driving were clear signs that the women of the 20's had no insight in going back to the past.
Art Deco and Harrods Increasing success
Throughout the early makings of Harrods, the small shop started expanding and eventually flourishing as well recognised department store for the wealthy. Strict dress codes for entering the shop as well as the iconic green men at the entrances as well as the first ever installed escalators, Harrods quickly became a well established high end department store by the early 1900's.
An iconic part of Harrods identity was lead by the Green Men. Hired to open and close doors for the customers, it allowed customers to have an experience that entailed a luxury treatment. A mainly american driven movement due to the American economic boom in the 20's, a great influence of style led towards Europe especially in the upper class. harrods started adopting Art Deco styles for their magazine publications as well as what clothing was sold. Soon enough Harrods was a highly important fashion destination, conscious of trends.
Mainly driven by the economic boom in america, the roaring 20's reinvented traditional architecture, fashion as well as attitudes for femininity (flappers, iconic women that broke gender rules by cutting their hair short and wearing non fitted clothing to give themselves a more masculine petite frame). Tying in traditions of craft with the modern mechanised world, an idea of glamour, wealth and utopia were conveyed through this decade.
Looking at Harrods News it is evident that a persistent style was shown within the 20's, Where their magazine covers show fashionable shortened hemlines on dresses covered in golds, silvers expressing the lavishness as well as richness.
The Italian and Argentinian fashion reporter, was a reputable figure in the 20's. Her work involved; fashion editing, reporting, critic tailor and a feminist educator (mainly participating the the women's right movement in the early 30's and 40's) had links with Harrods Argentinian branch.
She was predominantly started her career as a fashion model, then moving within Harrods public relations representing fashion commercials through portraits that expressed equality as well as feminist fashion trends i.e. flapper aesthetics. Pastorino was also the first woman to bring women trousers to the Argentinian public, taking part in commercials.
Her attitudes of female empowerment were in harmony with the rising attitudes of female equality within the 20's. Her involvement in Primeros (a cigarette company) conveyed her ideas, 'Fags for ladies'.
Pelegrina Pastorino (Pele), Harrods editorial catalogue, Spring 1920s, by photographer Louis Pastorino
"While being a 'flapper' was in many ways an attitude – a new liberalism – the cost of being a well-dressed flapper didn’t come cheap. This article from 1926 claims a person could furnish a three-bedroom flat for the same cost of buying the accompanying outfit, modelled by quintessential flapper girl Clara Bow.
Read over the piece and you’ll see that the appeal of quality garments that are sophisticated in their minimalism (“simplicity is one of the most expensive effects a designer can achieve,” says the article)"