Dugdale Brothers, the Huddersfield clothmaker and merchant, is celebrating its 120th year in business with the release of the 1896 cloth, a worsted designed to reflect 'Dugdale’s heritage, but also the unique history of luxury cloth making in Huddersfield, an industry for which the town is globally renowned'. I'll see if I can find out a bit more about the 1896 — sounds promising. If they are excited about it, then we should be too.
Dugdale Brothers are also relaunching their famous Pageant range. Pageant was first introduced in 1966 as an open weave 9oz gabardine cloth suitable for warm weather with a 'unique matt appearance and dry handle with incredible crease shedding capabilities'. Dugdale has used W.T. Johnson's VV (high-press) finish to give the 'weave a little more openness and a kinder handle without compromising the wonderful crease resistant properties present in New Fine Worsted'. Perfect for a travel suit for the tropics. Or Bridlington on a good day. (See the top photo for the bold colour range.)
The History of Dugdale Bros & Co.
Dugdale Brothers was established by Henry Percy and Frederick Herbert Dugdale in 1896. Passing from the Dugdale family to the Charnock family in the 1970s, the firm remains an independent family firm with deep roots in Yorkshire.
The company is known for supplying cloths, linings and trimmings to the best tailors in the world. The cloths range from heavy-duty coating fabric, Yorkshire tweeds and twills, classic English worsteds to specialist fine grade weaves (in the super 120-160 bracket) using cashmere and kid mohair. Dugdale also has a tremendous reputation for producing cloths for formal events, including barathea cloths that are popular for dress suits, coats and tails.
The current chairman, Robert Charnock, gave a little background on popularity of their cloth.
'In terms of cloths, for warm weather our most popular is New Fine Worsted. We have carefully followed a recipe forged by my Grandfather who was making this cloth 60 years ago at Learoyd`s Mill in Huddersfield. Then it was considered almost a paperweight at 280/310 gms or 8/9 ozs in those days. Now this is considered a little heavy for the tropics, as technology has allowed us to produce much lighter versions that will also resist wrinkles yet still hold a nice crease in the front of the trouser, such as Luxury Lightweight, and when blended with a noble fibre such as mohair, as with Cape Breeze you achieve optimum performance.
'Our most popular winter cloths are the White Rose Saxony cloths, our coatings, the Caldonaire Yorkshire tweeds and twills, and the Legendary Dugdale English and Town Classics, which have been marketed by the company for around 60-70 years.
Tweedy's Note: The White Rose range of 'Caldonaire' Yorkshire tweeds and twills were first launched in 1911. The 'Caldonaire' name is derived from the rivers Calder, Don and Aire, which have been crucial to the Yorkshire textile industry.
Dugdale's main market has always been the UK (and Savile Row), but they also supply the finest tailors and couturiers in Paris, Milan, Naples, Madrid and Berlin. The range of cloths that Dugdale produce means that they can make inroads into any markets. As Robert says: 'We are doing better in the USA and elsewhere as we have many lighter weight cloths on offer. Japan is moderate. China is growing each year as is the rest of Asia and Australia. India is showing a greater interest.'
How has Dugdale managed to survive since 1896, preserving their heritage yet continuing to innovate? Robert believes the biggest advantage has been their location, as they are 'surrounded by the designers who design our cloths and the craftsmen who spin our yarn and weave and finish our cloth. Therefore we are quick to respond to change and turn pieces round.'
Dugdale Advertisements from Tailor and Cutter Magazine in 1928
The illustrations below show a Dugdale advertisement from Tailor and Cutter magazine from 1928. The illustrations that follow show British liveries and military uniforms, the patterns of which would have made much use of Dugdale's famous serge and barathea.