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Dec 22, 2016

The Demise of Wolf Dress Forms


Sad news to report, friends.

The Wolfform Company, manufacturer of dress forms for more than 100 years, is out of business.

I don't know what happened.  Maybe they felt they could no longer compete with cheaper imports.  Maybe the market had shrunk too dramatically.  Maybe there was no one in the family to run the business.  I have no additional information to share. 

There are other American companies that still make the classic papier-mâché (as opposed to fiberglass) forms -- Superior and Ronis are the two that come to mind.  My hunch is that many people are opting for models like these which, while more expensive than the popular adjustable forms, are half the price of a Wolf, if not even less.  It's tough out there!

At FIT, the majority of the dress forms we use are Wolfs.  



At home I use a female PGM Size 8 I bought on Craigslist for less than $100 a few years ago.  (My male form is a beautiful second-hand Royal, manufactured by Ronis.)  She's adequate, but not easy to pin on so she mainly serves as a hanger.  At this she excels.


I've been looking for a second-hand Wolf, ideally a full body with legs.  I actually found one for sale in my apartment building (!), but she was a little too small in size and too high in price.  Still, she was just an elevator ride away -- tempting.

I feel bad about Wolf going out of business.  They were used in the finest costume shops, garment companies, and fashion schools.  Perhaps you own one or have worked with one.

Any idea what happened?

Have a great day, everybody!

UPDATED HERE.

18 comments:

  1. Peter - I don't know exactly what happened but I'm not surprised. I've been to their headquarters in NJ and they seemed like a small family run shop and quite a few of their employees were mature. I'm sure with the demise of the garment district - the need for their product decreased. And even though Wolf dressforms are the cadillac of dress forms, few of us regular home sewists could afford the product especially the dress forms that were specifically made for you. It's definitely sad that they've closed but I suspect we are going to see more of this in the coming years.

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    1. I always hoped to someday have one from Wolf. Unfortunately, the price was a bit over my budget. Alvanon (the brand we use at work) is not cheaper though.

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    2. So sad! I bought a bridal/cocktail dress form from them back in 2007 with the detachable arm buds. Their forms were the most accurate, and they made the dress forms to order. I still have their measurement chart for the Missy and Bridal/Cocktail forms. So sad to see them go out of business! I was googling them to look up something on their chart, and found out this sad news!

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  2. I have nothing to add other than this makes me sad :-( Carolyn is right though. Most home sewers for sure couldn't afford the investment.

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  3. I believe Ms. Rene' is correct...as a home sewer, I couldn't have afforded it either. It is very sad.

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  4. Did we just pass the zenith of home production?

    Machine knitters lament the loss of Passap, sewing machines have long since gone from metal to plastic/nylon innards, and now dress forms get their turn in the barrel.

    Tools and materials are getting "optimized" for someone else's needs (profit), while our choices get whittled down to a range varying between crappy and adequate (look at local fabric store options and contents).

    The Internet provides options, and hopefully in a globalized marketplace we will continue to keep our interests viable and readily available. Art needs an outlet.

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    1. The Passap's though were always more finicky though. Silver Reed survives I believe because their machines are simpler. My mum used to machine knit to save money. I don't think she'd bother nowadays.

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  5. I'd think it's more to do with the dated body shape, it seems like Alvanon has become the standard, at least that is the brand retailers require suppliers to conform to. Wolf is clearly a quality product, but the shape is less anatomical. Very sad though.

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  6. Ugh--feels like a universe of excellence is being whittled away.

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  7. Hi Peter, not sure about Wolf forms but I'd snap up a too small dummy any day. Mine is too big and there's nothing I can do to rectify that other than drive over her! Industry professionals routinely pad out their dummies to fit the client, leap up those stairs 2 at a time in my opinion!

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    Replies
    1. Lesley, I'm with you...run don't walk up(down?)the stairs and grab that baby, then learn how to pad it correctly. Connie Crawford is a good source.

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  8. Firstly, let me say I live in the Caribbean. I have been eyeing a Wolf Dress form for the past two years but could not buy because of the price. I was however hoping that one day I would just take the plunge and bite the bullet. That opportunity is now gone.

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    Replies
    1. Remember there are still secondhand forms to be had and there will be for a long time.

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  9. Having been a part-owner, working partner in a small manufacturing business, I can say it has become harder and harder to stay in business in this country. Our very skilled employees were older (=more productive but less healthy => higher healthcare costs). Younger replacement candidates were generally not as well educated and certainly less skillful. Younger candidates tended to be not as motivated to work hard and more likely to fall back on a life of dependency on a welfare system that seemed geared to long-term dependency versus a short term 'helping hand'.

    Federal/state regulations increased operating costs and required investment in "mickey mouse" safety equipment that really did not add to safety - it just slowed down an experienced operator. Earlier in my career in the mid -80's while working for another company, I traveled to China at the invitation of the Chinese government to investigate the possibility of moving manufacturing operations there. Besides the typical pitch to use cheaper labor, they also pitched lower regulatory costs. The Chinese were aware even back then that regulatory compliance costs in the US were high.

    It is hard to be a manufacturer in the US today and show a decent, but necessay, profit that ensures continued investment in the business and produces a fair return to the owners. Due to our age, we ended up selling the business to a local manufacturer of similar products who went out of business two years after the sale.

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  10. So sorry to hear this. I used Wolf dress forms when I took classes at FIT. Excellent forms.

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  11. Yes, sad. Personally, i own a Royal and an Andy's with legs. Love them both. Bought both new. Yes, expensive and worth it. http://www.andysdressform.com/gallery.html

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  12. Is sad to hear, am not familiar with Wolf as I am in UK , however can see the quality in pics , I often search for a Kennett & Lindsell form which I can afford , agree with the others above , is worth getting a small form if you can find one at the right price

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  13. I was reading about dress forms, as I hope to be in the market for one within the year...I got curious about Wolf. They're on facebook, and plan to open a new website on April 1st. I suppose they're like Twinkies, it appears thru merged with Superior. Made me ecstatic, my husband not so much haha.

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