The coat hanger: a banal everyday object

Coat hangers … a humble utilitarian object which no one pays much attention to, more often than not hidden in the depths of a wardrobe/closet under the clothes they support. This everyday object has nevertheless been around for more than a century.
Between fashion and design, the coat hanger’s history has a story to tell about social ….., the evolution of the textile industry and the progress brought about by industrialisation.

The first coat hangers

The first coat hangers date from the 16th century. Bulky and very rounded at the shoulders, they were used by the army and the church.
It’s only in the beginning of the 19th century that the use of coat hangers became more widespread and hangers made their appearance in every home, even if at the time no one really paid attention.

From the era of the inventors

It was in the 20th century that inventors began to take an interest in the humble coat hanger.
Many patents were registered, improving the coat hanger’s design. In 1929, for example, an inflatable hanger was invented which could be deflated for ease of storage.

... to the era of designers

From the 1950’s as the clothes people wore became more standardised, the coat hanger became more synthetic, although it still retained its diversity. The multiplication of new materials used and the creativity and audacity of contemporary designers ensured that the coat hanger became an object indissociable from fashion, an object finally noticed and admired in its own right. In this way designers continued the process begun at the beginning of the century, their talents ensuring that the coat hanger evolved with the changing times.

Craftsmen and manufacturers experiment with wire, with different types of wood – untreated, polished, varnished – then with the new plastics available to them, each putting his ingenuity and creativity to the service of the humble coat hanger.