Since we started selling vintage costume jewelry online, Swank brand jewelry is always among our top selling items. Swank was started in 1897 in Attleboro, MA as the Attleboro Manufacturing Co., and specialized in making and selling women’s jewelry. Not long after the start of production of women’s jewelry, however, a massive fire destroyed the factory as well as an entire city block of Attleboro. Some jewelry as well as some machinery was saved and the company moved its manufacturing to a nearby building, which remained the center of the company’s business for the next 100 years.
The company didn’t expand into men’s jewelry, like cufflinks and other accessories until 1908, when they formed a new division called Baer and Wilde specifically to produce men’s jewelry. The division had middling success but didn’t start to take off until they released the Kum-A-Part line of products for cuffs.
When the United States joined WWI, the company contributed by making metal dog tags for soldiers, as well as other emblems for the military. Around this time, the men’s jewelry line had really taken off, so the women’s jewelry lines were discontinued.
The company then focused all of their attention on producing men’s accessories like tie clips, pins, collar buttons and dress sets. The name Swank was used in one of the company advertisements as early as 1927, but the company did not form Swank Products, Inc. until 1936. In 1941, the company shortened the name again and they became what we now know as Swank, Inc.
The company sprang into action to contribute to WWII efforts as well, making parts for guns as well as award items like purple hearts and bronze stars. After the war’s end, Swank expanded into other areas, including fragrances, wallets, belts and other accessories for men.
In the 1950′s and 60′s, Swank, Inc. began acquiring other brands in order to continue expanding. The company acquired Prince Gardner Company, Crestline Manufacturing Company and Alco Leather Manufacturing Corporation.
In the 1970′s, the company invested in a large expansion, renovation and modernization of their manufacturing facilities.
In the 1980′s, the company re-introduced their women’s line under the name Anne Klein.
Nowadays, you may be surprised at the number of recognizable brand names owned by Swank, Inc., they include Guess?, Liz Claiborne, Geoffrey Beene, Tommy Hilfiger, Kenneth Cole, Nautica and Chaps.