The Fabric Group

Thanks to Bonnie Yochelson, speaking at the “Rethinking Pictorialism” symposium, we were introduced to “The Fabric Group” series of advertisements by Anton Bruehl (1900-1982) and Ralph Steiner (1899-1986).

A student of Clarence White, Bruehl opened a photography studio in 1926 partnering first with Steiner and later with his older brother, Martin Bruehl. When the Manhattan men’s haberdashers Weber and Heilbroner hired them to prepare an advertising campaign, they invented three paper dolls wearing Fabric Group suits, who appeared weekly from January 1, 1927 to December 29, 1928 in the pages a sophisticated new magazine called The New Yorker.

Writing for the New York Times, Sarah Boxer noted that “Every week . . . the Fabric Group would go ‘abroad’ in their fedoras to have dangerous adventures like deep-sea diving with fish or spelunking with dinosaurs. They weathered all perils with jaunty good humor, while wishing they were back home wearing their Fabric Group suits.”

As much as the weekly articles and reviews, these advertisements built the young magazine’s circulation and its long term success.

Seen above: Anton Bruehl (1900-1982) and Ralph Steiner (1899-1986), Adventures of the Fabric Group no 2 (in art gallery) 1927; Anton Bruehl (1900-1982), The Fabric Group abroad no 4 (arriving at French customs) 1927; Anton Bruehl (1900-1982), The Fabric Group Abroad no 16 (picnic in Germany) 1927; Anton Bruehl (1900-1982), Adventures of The Fabric Group no 21 (beach umbrella) 1927; Anton Bruehl (1900-1982), The Fabric Group Abroad no 31 (Buddha statue) 1928; and Anton Bruehl (1900-1982), The Fabric Group Abroad no 33 (in Australia with sheep) 1928.

The New Yorker (New York: F.R. Publishing Corp., 1925- ) Annex A, Forrestal (TEMP) AP2 .N4992q