Yes. I’ve been on a Monkee binge this summer. Let me reassure my readers (read: my 5 friends) this is not a blog about the Prefab Four. But it’s Labor Day, and the group comes to mind. FETV yanked the reruns last week, and it makes me sad. The show isn’t on DVD or streaming. To be honest, Labor Day makes me sad, anyway. I could care less that it means the end of Summer. I hate Summer, and it’s overrated. Summer is like the 500 lb. relative you hate who visits, then dies on your new couch. You finally get past the mess, but the melody lingers on. And you must buy a new couch. Labor Day will always live in my mind as synonymous with “back to school,” – and I hated school. The only upside was new clothes, usually from Penny’s or Sears.
In those glory days of 1967, department store giant Penny’s launched a clothing line for the show. According to The Monkees Almanac, Penny’s approached Screen Gems for a TV tie-in line of merchandise. Screen Gems, seeing megabuxx, agreed. Coordinating the apparel line with the release of More of the Monkees LP in January 1967, not only was the group photographed for the cover in the new duds but Penny’s promoted the line in their next catalog along with the record albums and other exclusive items. Sadly, this also led to the demise of the group. As the guys had no idea it was part of a major merchandising scheme, Michael Nesmith (because the Nez is gonna Nez) blew the whistle on the group in an interview in Look magazine in late January 1967.
Fifty-four years on, I have to say the clothing line was not that bad. It consisted of earth-tone prints and color blocking. The slim trousers and double-breasted jackets were fantastic. Americans were slim back in those days and not averaging 350 lbs. on the hoof as they are now. Note to chill’uns – bell-bottoms did not become mainstream until about 1969. I’ll confess I’m having problems locating the catalog that featured the line. I’ve looked at the Spring/Summer 1967 standard mail order catalog, but I find hats on the pages where the Monkees should be. Of course, sometimes Penny’s issued mid-season catalog supplements to move merchandise and catalogs were edited by region: what was good for LA might not appear in catalogs for the mid-west, and so on. Too, I’ve not been able to find the designer, either.
On a personal note, one classmate had the exclusive Penny’s Monkee Logo badge, cast in brass, in the winter of 1967. I was envious and never found one for myself. Over a half-century later, I think I’ve found one on eBay. Fingers crossed, I may fulfill my childhood dream soon!