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OUR HISTORY

Since 1912

1950s Research Library
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1910s

As a purveyor of Native American goods, Louis L. Burns was a go-to source for filmmakers looking for authentic costumes and props for their Western films. Recognizing an opportunity, Burns and his wife formed Western Costume Company in 1912.
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1920s

Los Angeles was now the undisputed center of the film industry, and Western outfitted all the silent movie stars. By 1923 Western Costume accounted for ninety-five percent of the costuming in the Los Angeles film industry, and outfitted most of the local theatrical productions.
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Following the stock market crash, Western Costume was sold to the Greenberg brothers who streamlined the operation. They moved the business from downtown Los Angeles to Hollywood, directly adjacent to Paramount  Pictures. In 1934, veteran filmmakers Joe and Abe Schnitzer purchased Western, and business boomed.

1930s

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Western employed some of the best artisans from Europe in its workrooms. Boasting an overall staff of around 250, a new order came in every 30 seconds. Western had become such an indispensable resource in the industry that in 1943, six major film studios jointly bought the company, keeping the Schnitzer's as managers.

1940s

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The postwar boom was followed by the end of the studio system. Western costumed many of the major films of the era, including The Sound of Music and Cleopatra. The studios began to struggle, but Western saw more work than ever, in part thanks to the growing television market.

1950s-60s

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1970s

The shift to a more realistic style of filmmaking in the post-studio era meant that Western was no longer making as many extravagant gowns or period costumes. As the studios began to sell their wardrobe departments, Western bought them, ensuring that they would remain a critical resource for customers in the decades to come.
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1980s

Business slowed as tastes changed, but Western remained a major player in the costuming industry. Wanting to expand its lot, Paramount purchased the company in 1988, then sold the business—but not the land—to the AHS Trinity Group. The new owners had a month to move the massive enterprise to a new location in North Hollywood.
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’90s

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Present

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In the past 30 years, Western has adapted to the changing and modernizing film industry. President Eddie Marks implemented a barcode system to quickly and easily track rentals, and he has purchased eight private collections of vintage clothing to enhance the already extensive rental stock.
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