1996: Vintage Blue Fish Clothing Production Notes
Blue Fish Clothing 1996 – Wholesale Line Sheets
“I grew up on a small farm in Pennsylvania. I can remember dyeing (the very clothes that I was wearing) with purple mulberries, painting my face with the soft dust from the colored rocks in the stream. Making brilliant green “witches brew” in a huge cauldron using walnuts and flowers and sticks. I believe that is where my imagination developed. The elements of nature are endlessly and incredibly inspiring, and I hope that each one of us can find certain moments to appreciate and honor the natural world which exists around us all, everywhere.” ~Excerpt from the 1996 Summer Catalog
This was a great year! The designs were distinctively different from other clothing, the colors were rich and the inspiration was deep and creative. There were remarkable fabrications, rich velvet and slinky acetate. We had an exceptional public relations manager through these years, which is why great news about Blue Fish appears in the press. There were also pieces of Blue Fish being worn by celebrities in public, and Jen was featured on several talk shows.
In 1996, Blue Fish initiated a direct public offering [DPO] that would complete in 1997. This had always come easily for the company up until this point, but the DPO did not come easily. The Securities and Exchanges Commission [SEC] place extra-ordinary restrictions on DPO’s and the Blue Fish stock was considered high-risk penny stock. It was a struggle for the creative, art-focused members of Blue Fish to put together the SEC approved prospectus. Worse yet, the sale of stock did not come easily. About six months in, the realization that if the minimum stock offering did not sell, all the money would have to be returned and all concerned would be in serious trouble! There was a tremendous pooling of effort to publicize the offering. We participated in follow-up call-a-thons to people who had received prospectuses, but had not yet purchased stock. The result of which was amazing as the demand exceeded the supply, and the day that the stock went public on the summer of 1997, its market value doubled the par of $5! Over the next couple of months, it gradually fell back down to hover around $6.
The previous 7 digit SKU (style number) remained through 1996. The first letter represents the season in which the style is being offered. Early spring is season 1 through the winter line, which was season 8. The next digit of the SKU identifies the fabrication. “O” is 100% certified organic cotton jersey, “L” is cotton Lycra, and “G” is velvet knit. The third digit identifies when the style is printed (P), solid(S), or patched (T). The next three digits are known as the pattern number. The idea was that these 3 digits would remain the same across seasons, fabrication, and techniques (printed/solid/patched). The seventh digit was made “F” for finished goods, but the original intent of this digit was immediately lost. In the next couple of years, it would be used to differentiate between the regular collection (F), retail only goods (R), special lines (S), and basic goods (B).