7905 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, MO 63119  314-738-9384
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Valerie Battle Kienzle Socially Distant Signing | Ready to Wear: A History of the Footwear and Garment Industries in St. Louis

June 12 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Join us Saturday, June 12th at 1 pm in the store for a socially distant signing with Valerie Battle Kienzle and her new book, Ready to Wear: A History of the Footwear and Garment Industries in St. Louis.

About The Book

St. Louis was founded as a fur-trading village in 1764. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, it became a center of fur trading, cotton and wool distribution, footwear, and ultimately clothing production in the 19th century. Few today would believe that the junior dress market segment was born, developed, and flourished in St. Louis from the 1930s through the 1960s. Buyers for high-end New York retailers flocked to St. Louis twice a year to view and order dresses and footwear. But The River City was a leader in shoes and clothing long before it introduced the junior clothing trend. Ready To Wear is the story of the birth, growth, decline, and rebirth of two wearable industries in St. Louis, Missouri—footwear and garments, alike in their end products but drastically different in their production processes. It takes a unique look at footwear and clothing through factual narrative, seldom-told stories, and detailed vintage images.

Take an in-depth look at Washington Avenue—nicknamed Shoe Street USA—located in the heart of downtown. The streets were once filled with bustling crowds of workers, carts, and wagons loaded with raw materials and finished products. The nonstop drone of stitching machines and automated production were heard on every street corner. At that time, St. Louis, the fourth largest city in the US, was a major hub in the footwear and clothing manufacturing industries. It’s been said that the street literally buzzed and hummed with the activity of the two thriving industries. Today Washington Avenue has overcome a period of decline to become an urban, hip destination filled with repurposed buildings and amazing architectural details. It’s a place alive with residences, nightlife, dining options, and businesses. Thanks to the tireless efforts of local preservationists, most area structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Colorfully weaving historical narrative, personal connection, and local lore, Valerie Battle Kienzle transports the reader to the Washington Avenue of yesteryear. You’ll find a surprising fashion-industry hub right in the heart of the Midwest, and a lengthy and impressive history of renowned fashion innovators on every page.

About the Author

Valerie Battle Kienzle is a native of Nashville, Tennessee. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism in Columbia, Missouri. She spent the last thirty-five years employed in various writing-related positions–newspaper reporter, corporate public affairs manager, advertising account representative, school district communications writer, freelance writer and author. She has written two books for Arcadia Publishing: St. Charles (2012) and Columbia (2014); and one book for Reedy Press: What’s With St. Louis? (2016). Valerie is a member of the Missouri Writers Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), the State Historical Society of Missouri and the St. Charles (MO) County Historical Society. Her interests include reading (history, non-fiction), music (all genres), gardening, travel and genealogical research. An animal lover, she and her husband share their St. Louis-area home with a dog and a cat.