A magazine-like print presentation of a company’s or retailer’s products. Before the Internet, customers would fill out an order form from the catalog and mail it back to the company with a check or money order.
A brief history:
1861: Charles Orvis sends out America’s first gear-oriented catalog, advertising fishing tackle.
1948: REI’s first mail-order catalog goes out to about 3,000 people.
1980: Patagonia launches its catalog. According to the 2010 anthology Unexpected: 30 Years of Patagonia Catalog Photography, founder Yvon Chouinard tells the catalog’s first editor, Rick Ridgeway, “Hey Rick, I think I’ve got it figured out. We’ll run photos of real people doing real things.”
2015: Most catalogs have migrated online, but many companies still use them to drive sales.