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Wong - Kung Lai Family - 1946

Collector/curator's description reads: “1946, Vancouver (518 Main Street). Photo of Wong Kung Lai family, owner of Modernize Tailors. Back row, L to R: Helen; Jack; Bill; Allan and Anna. Front row, L to R: Milton; Uncle (name unknown); Mother Man Ming (nee Chu); Irene (superimposed); Maurice; Father Kung Lai Wong and May.”

Lee - Harry Wah Kang - On Wo Tailor - 1946

Collector/curator’s description reads: “1946, Vancouver (518 Main Street). Photo of Harry Kang Lee, owner of On Wo Tailors on West Pender. Handwritten note on the photo reads: ‘Dearest Rose. Love Harry. /46.’ Rose eventually became his wife. Harry Lee wanted to be an engineer. But, upon his father's death, took over the family apothecary shop and converted it into a tailoring shop called On Wo Tailors.”

Wong - Kung Lai - 1935

Collector/curator’s description reads: “C. 1935, Vancouver. Photo of businessman Kung Lai Wong, who owned Modernize Tailors. This photo was found in a box of portraits at the Wongs Benevolent Association.”

Wong - Kung Lai - 1932

Collector/curator's description reads: “1932, Vancouver (23 W Pender). Photo of the Modernize Tailor family. L to R: Mother Man Ming (nee Chu); Anna (on lap); Jack; Father Kung Lai Wong; Helen; Bill; Unknown relative; Allan. Kung Lai Wong arrived in Vancouver from southern China in 1911 at the age of 20, and had to pay a $500 head tax. He worked for a time as a houseboy then apprenticed himself to an English tailor to learn a trade and open his own shop. For his staff, Kung Lai imported "paper relatives" from China, bachelor tailors who would never have a chance to marry. His two eldest boys, Bill and Jack, born a year apart, did everything together. As toddlers, they were allowed to play with scraps of wool and spools of thread at the tailor shop. Later, they would go help out in the shop after attending English school, followed by Chinese school. The 1950s, when the brothers took over Modernize, were prosperous years, with some 20 tailor shops operating in Chinatown. The so-called zoot suit was introduced by jazz musicians in the U.S. in the 1940s and became wildly popular with young men in Vancouver a few years later. This louche style called for wide-legged, high-waisted trousers pegged at the ankles and long jackets with wide lapels and exaggerated shoulders. Modernize produced scores of such suits. They also made costumes for Vancouver's Theatre Under the Stars musical productions and for performances at the historic town of Barkerville in the B.C. interior. The popularity of the suit began to wane in the 1960s, under the influence of such blue-jean wearing film stars as Marlon Brando. A trend toward informality in office wear followed with the introduction of "casual Fridays." Mass manufacturing of clothing in Asia meant a flood of cheap off-the-rack clothing that had not previously existed.”

Chinatown Business men - Larry Wong

Collector/curator’s description reads: “1920s, Vancouver. Photo of several men who were part of a Chinese business association. Wong Mow (owner Modern Silk Company; later called Modern Shirt Company) is second from left. Yucho Chow (studio photographer) is fifth from left.”