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Talbots was founded in 1947 by Rudolf and Nancy Talbot. In the early years the store was known as “The Talbots”, but was changed to simply “Talbots” over time. The company started with one store in Hingham, MA and added a mail order catalog in 1948. In 1955, a second store was added, and by the 1960s, there were five stores in wealthy towns in Massachusetts and Connecticut. In 1973, the Talbots sold their stores and catalog operation to General Mills, who opened eight more stores in New England over the next seven years. In 1980, the company added stores in New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Throughout the 1980s, General Mills grew the chain from 20 stores to 126. In 1984, Talbots added petite sizes to its line of classic women’s clothing. The first Talbots Petite store was opened in 1985 in Cambridge, MA.

In June 1988, General Mills sold the chain to the Jusco Group, a leading Japanese retailer that was the core company of the AEON Group. The Jusco Group decided to rely almost exclusively on private label merchandise and to emphasize its retail outlets over its catalog operations. They added Talbots Kids in 1989.

Talbots went public in 1993, when the company had 313 stores in 44 states. In 1994, they expanded into Canada and England, with plans to continue international growth. But, by 1997, sales growth had declined significantly, and the company changed its merchandise to try to attract a younger, less ‘traditional’ customer. The result was disastrous; the new line bombed so badly, Talbots was forced to take steep markdowns. Sales and stock price slumped, and Talbots made a quick turnaround to the classics as profits dropped nearly $60 million in 1997. Talbots Woman was launched in 1998 and Talbots Men in 2002. By 2005, Talbots had 1083 stores. In 2008, Talbot’s closed its children’s and menswear divisions.

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See vintage Talbots from VFG members on Etsy (paid link)

from an early 1960s swim suit - Courtesy of

from an early 1960s swim suit

Courtesy of