On weekends, or when I return from work at night, one of my favorite forms of around-the-house attire is a set of comfortable sweats. Sweat pants, a sweat shirt....ratty, over sized, cotton or acrylic--it really doesn't matter. Fashion is not my concern and comfort is king with me when I am able to lounge around the house.
Over the recent holidays, I spent a lot of time in sweats. Beer in hand, football on TV and dog at my side, comfy sweats rounded out the picture. Unfortunately, I had to send off a 20-plus year old set of sweat pants to garbage-land when the drawstring broke. And then it hit me...it has been so long since I actually purchased sweats, I wasn't exactly sure where to find a replacement! Oh sure, I could go the the "brand name" stores and find what I wanted for a hefty price but, and here's the rub, I am used to finding my around-the-house wardrobe C-H-E-A-P.
The root of this habit can be traced back to my childhood where much of my clothing came from the Velva Sheen outlet store on Glenmore Avenue, below the K-of-C Hall, in Cheviot. Velva Sheen, if you are unaware, was a Cincinnati-based purveyor of printed T-shirts, sweats and other garb. Whenever they goofed up, the product ended up at the outlet store in Cheviot, where clothing was sold at a fraction of its normal cost. Not to make fun of my thrifty mom, but it made great play clothing even though the regular mis-spellings messed with my school work when it came to the spelling of "Xaveir", "Stanfrod" and "Cincinatti." Sometimes it wasn't the spelling that sent the clothing article to outlet banishment, sometimes it was a stray thread, or a silk-screen that was too light, or arms that were too long or too short. Whatever the flaw, a good deal is a good deal and Velva Sheen was one of my first learned words (by the way, you could tell an outlet sale item because they'd clip a "V" out of the tag so you couldn't return it!)
Inspired by these fond memories, I wondered whatever happened to Velva Sheen, so I did a little investigating and found out that the company was founded in 1936 by a guy named Oscar Schroeder and really developed and expanded by brothers Bob and William Reilly. They eventually grew into a national company and a pioneer in securing licensing agreements from major companies for popular characters, images and slogans. The brothers sold the company in in 1994 to Brazos, who went out of business by 1999. Curiously, the label and name were resurrected by a California company in 2009 and apparently exists today in a line of retro clothing. Good for them.
I'm still pretty tight with a buck and found a local clothier who carries second run sweats, so I'm good for another 20-years. But I kinda miss Velva Sheen and the days when I proudly wore T-shirts proclaiming my devoting to the "Univresity of West Verginai."