Sunday, 20 January 2008

Product Support


Since there has been considerable support for my showing-off one of my most treasured Christmas presents, here it is. My neighbour brought it round on Christmas Eve, beautifully wrapped, and said 'I've been looking for a good home for this for years'. What can she possibly mean? It comes from that era of English design where certain product packaging simply couldn't speak the name of the item within. We found it with contraceptive devices, trusses and other 'unmentionables' and even though everyone understood what a 'jockstrap' was, even its polite name of 'male support' couldn't be seen here. All we know from this box is that the mystery contents are 'hygienic, washable, durable', that it 'supports and protects' and that 'Wise Men buy Two'. Apart from that, I see that it was originated and manufactured by Fred Hurtley & Son in Keighley, Yorkshire, where you'd have thought they'd have been a bit more no-nonsense about it. Nevertheless, the graphics are superb and I certainly would have been sufficiently intrigued to give the Mayfair Model a thorough roadtest.

17 comments:

Justin Savage said...

What a terrific piece of packaging. It's so dramatic; and clearly inspired by Da Vinci's 'Proportions of Man'. I can well imagine chaps, with no need of athletic support whatsoever, rushing back to their biscuit tins to get the cash to buy their very own 'Litesome'. That box is a call to arms.

A F-A said...

What a remarkable find! There is something Freudian (or Jungian?) that the box *ahem* should remain but not the contents.....

A search in the Keighley directories suggests that Fred Hartley & Sons have disappeared (the Litesome name lives on, however, with a Litesome Sportswear Company still extant but apparently non-trading).

Despite this, I think I can solve the mystery of the Mayfair Model. The original manufacturer was in the heart of Yorkshire, in which region the men are proud of, shall we say, their build. Canny Northerners, they would doubtless have wanted to maximise their sales and therefore introduced a model for those whom they would have regarded as effete: Southerners, and particularly those playing cricket for Surrey or Middlesex. Hence the Mayfair Model: softer and two sizes smaller.

Peter Ashley said...

What amazingly erudite comments, thankyou. I suppose, along with other items in my collection like a full 1906 Woodbine Cigarette packet, I must endeavour to find a (hopefully unused) item to put into the box. As opposed to testing it out in those circumstances that demand such a thing.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Talk of boxes reminds me of a favourite passage from John Parker's excellent THE VILLAGE CRICKET MATCH. The bit in question is a story about a cricket writer interviewing a prominent woman cricketer. Seeing boxes lying around in the dressing room, he asks her, '"Why do you wear a box - the same type of protector as men do?" "It hurts us just as much as it does you men when we get hit there," the lady replied. "But we don't call them boxes in women's cricket. We call them manhole covers."'

A F-A said...

I wonder if if a pack of Hartley's "Litesome" - or perhaps the Mayfair Model - might not be the answer to Jeremy Paxman's apparent problem with his M&S garments.....

A F-A said...

I think there's a movie in this..in the 'Kinky Boots' genre. Slowly fading 'support' manufacturer meets Large Interviewer and satifies his under-needs, leading to fame and fortune amongst Media types...I see shots of people like Clarkson, suffering on Top Gear, whilst Paxman has glazed smile on face as he presents Newsnight. Working Title: "The Jock that dare not speak its name"

Diplomat said...

I think there's at least two versions of a.f-a's film already out there. One was made in Sao Paulo '74 with the versatile Rudi Jesus playing the lead male opposite/behind/under etc the even more adventurous girls Misca Valentov and her mother Venturi. The other was made at Sheperton Studios and on Location in Desborough, Northants ('58/9) but lost out in the box office for dreary black & white footage of the inside of the D&RKEW factory.

Peter Ashley said...

Wasn't the exterior for the Kinky Boots factory Tricker's?

Diplomat said...

mmmmmm - not seen the movie but wasn't it about the turn around of the Dr M outfit when they realised that most of their kit was making it's way into the homsexualist market. I just checked out some ancient pics of the Co-Operative Society Ltd Corset Factory at Desborough - it seems it's changed hands but still making underwear - marvelous.

Michael Hurtley said...

Was looking up litesome on google and was both interested and amused to find this. Fred Hurtley was my great grandad and the 'son' is my grandad. I find the packaging very interesteing. I find it amusign that there were two models available, one for southerners and another for northerners.

Mark Williams said...

I used to wear a Litesome for many years as a squash player. Best jockstrap there was. I hate to disabuse readers but the Mayfair model wasn't for undersized southerners, but was one which had an wider waistband, adjustable with tapes at the back. So it was for BIGGER chaps, but only in the waist, rather than below the waist dept!

Anonymous said...

My dad got me to wear litesome for sport.as we were a sporty family.eventually unable to purchase them any more, as they become my essential underwear.and even at the age of 67 still wear them daily.but get them from nottingham called SALLIS you wont be disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Litesome was the perfect product but alas no more.Do you think wearing of a J/S is now obsolete?Would like to know of other wearers

Anonymous said...

Litesome was the perfect product but alas no more.Do you think wearing of a J/S is now obsolete?Would like to know of other wearers

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Anonymous said...

These Litesome jockstraps do come up occasionally on Ebay etc - both new and previously owned. Recently one went for £40.00 and had previously seen service supporting a member of our armed services!
As a current user myself I can only recommend them whole heartedly - or the equivalent Sallis version still available.