Garment rails – a simple but timeless solution for hanging clothes

Garment rails are a simple but elegant solution to keeping clothes neat, tidy and clean. A rail attached to two posts and coat hangers offers a simple way to hang clothes to protect them.

Antique garment rails

Garment rails are not a new idea, of course. The early models were generally made from wood. In antique shops, you can find 19th-century examples. You could pay around £2,000 for a good quality antique garment rack.

From around 1910 to 1930, many cast iron clothing racks were produced, and you can find examples in antique shops.

The hanger

The garment rail would not of much use without the humble coat hanger.

The first clothes hanger was probably invented in 1860 in the United States by O.A. North. His original hanger was a piece of wire with two narrow ovals connected together in the middle with a twist. This is not that different from the modern wire hanger you will find at dry cleaners.

The first coat hangers were produced during the Industrial Revolution and often contained advertisements. In America, some hangers promoted trade unions that were on the rise because of the increased number of workers in factories.

The modern garment rail

The best garment rails for use by clothing manufacturers and retailers are made from tubular steel. Though people may still have wooden garment rails in the home, they are not strong enough for heavy use by businesses that need to store and move lots of clothes. Tubular steel garment rails are made to carry heavy loads. Garment rails made with tubular steel will last a long time when under heavy use.

The evolution of the garment rail

The basic design of the garment rail has not changed for a few hundred years, since there is a not a lot that can be improved. There are portable garment rails that can be dismantled and constructed without tools. Better casters have been developed to make garment rails easier to move, and split level rails and tiered rails hold assorted sizes of garments on one rail. All these innovations have evolved the design of the garment rail, but they are not revolutionary changes.

In 2015, in St Helens, an experiment was made with a digital clothes rail. Above the garments were digital gauge symbols. Photos of the dresses on the rail were posted to Facebook and people asked to vote on their favourite one. The live results of the vote were fed to the garment rail, and the digital gauges filled to reflect the favourite dresses.

There is trend for people to bring the garment rails out of their closets and display their clothes on free-standing garment rails in their bedroom. John Lewis, Urban Outfitters, and other retailers sell garment rails that are made to look good with glass, metal and wooden features.

The garment rail is here to stay, and though it may evolve, the industry still uses traditional design tubular steel garment rails as a practical solution for displaying and storing clothing of all shapes and sizes.

Posted by Derek
6th July 2018
Retail & Warehousing

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