Monday, September 5, 2016

Judy's Shops: L.A. Fashion Innovator Marcia Israel-Curley, a Book Review

Judy's was an innovative fashion shop for juniors that opened in Los Angeles in 1948. The brain child of Marcia Israel-Curley, the first tiny shop (12' x 7') would grow to become a national influencer in the fashion trade. I found a wealth of information on this retailer and her shops in the autobiography by her, "Defying the Odds".

Israel-Curley essentially invented a new way of selecting and selling fashion. She created a whole world of exciting new styles aimed at a younger customer. She let them feel like they had walked into a world all their own: the first true junior boutique. There she presented styles found nowhere else.

Over time, that one tiny shop grew into a chain of the hottest fashion stores nationally known. Each new mall built in southern California had to have a Judy's to bring in the public. With weekly new fashions, trend setting displays and attentive staff, Israel-Curley would pilot a massive business for several decades.

Marcia began her fashion career while in high school, and seems to be a child prodigy in the business. She went with her instincts and considerable intelligence to make business choices and innovations that were at the forefront of retail. She paved the way for future fashion ventures such as the Gap, Express and later the many other chain stores that catered to younger junior fashion tastes.

When looking for vintage, know that a "Judy's" label marks that garment as one that was sold to an upscale customer who sought out fashion trends before they happened. She loved the full shopping experience of Judy's and saved her babysitting money to spend on dramatic and eye-catching fashions that set her apart from her peers (who were shopping at Lerner's and other less fashion savvy shops).

If you want to read the whole story about this amazing business woman, look for a copy of "Defying the Odds" by Marcia Israel-Curry. It is a good read with a fast moving story. In addition, it helps to tell the big picture on how retail transitioned from the small shops of the early 1950's to the chain store giants in the malls of the 1970's. It was the beginning of modern retail as we know it today.

BOOK: Defying the Odds
AUTHOR: Marcia Israel-Curley
DATE: 2002

1979: Press Release: Buying Trip in China

1989: Press Release: Judy's chain sells

2004, OBIT: Marcia Israel-Curly, 83, Judy's Boutique Owner
2004:Judy's Boutique Owner Passes On