As this catalog from Koch & Co., a long closed 19th Century New York department store on 125th Street, shows, woman’s liberation didn’t come a moment too soon. Before they were even enfranchised, women and girls were tightly stitched from hair to toe. Imprisoned in their own bodies, these were what passed for liberating fashions in 1893 — just 120 years ago.
(Note: Koch’s was was founded by Henry C.F. Koch and Adolph Riesenberg, Koch’s nephew). Koch’s sons, Erdwin Van Der Horst Koch and William T. Koch, ran the store at the time of its closing in 1930. Originally located at Bleecker and Carmine (1860), then on Sixth Avenue and 29th Street (1875), it was the first ladies department store to move uptown from Ladies Mile.