September 5, 2009

Nancy Talbot, clothing chain founder, dies

Nancy Talbot, who founded the Talbots chain of clothing stores with her husband, has died at 89 at her home in Boulder, Colo., her daughter said.

Polly Talbot Donald told the Los Angeles Times her mother had from Alzheimer's disease and died from its complications.

Talbot and her husband Rudolf began the business in 1947 in the store he inherited from his father in Hingham, Mass., a suburb on Boston's South Shore. They renamed the store The Talbots and offered classic women's clothes aimed at tennis- and golf-playing suburbanites, a style that later became known as preppy.

"We look for clothes that are timeless because they are ladylike, simple

but not contrived, gimmicky or extreme, smart but not faddy, fashionable

but not funky -- chic and understated, the hallmarks of good taste," Talbot once said.

By the time the couple sold the business to General Mills in 1973 for $6 million it had five branches, which has since grown to 590 in the United States and Canada. Talbot remained as vice president for 10 years, although her husband retired.

The Talbots also pioneered catalog sales, first distributing fliers in Hingham. They published their first catalog in 1952.