The Manchester Trouser - Corduroy's World Domination

We're here to explode a well-worn myth today, chums. Corduroy is a British cloth, not French. Its name does not derive from a French expression for cord of kings. The French have nothing to do with this practical and hard-wearing cloth, but they keep quiet about this fact. They have denim, so they can't complain. Hands off our corduroy.

Corduroy conquers the world
Corduroy has been with us since the 18th century. Typically made from twisted cotton fibres, or a blend that might include cashmere or silk, the weaving process produces a distinct series of parallel ridges. The ridges can be narrow (needle cord) or super thick wide-wale (elephant cord - at least that's what I've always known it as). But I don't need to go into detail describing corduroy, as you will know about it and probably own something in the fabric. Because corduroy went from Britain to conquer the world and dress the great and the good, the young and the old, the et cetera and the so on.

Manchester trousers
I tend to own only cord trousers and veer towards the heavier elephant-end of cord. Jackets can be a bit stiff in the fabric, but I'm not averse. A young Cliff Richard, looking every inch the mod swinger, pulls off his seriously heavy cord jacket above. See it in action here.

My German and Swedish friends refer to my cord trousers as Manchester trousers, possibly because that's where corduroy was traditionally made. Not now, I'll wager. That term could be a northern Europe thing. In Spain they call corduroy "pana".

Orange and yellow examples below from my cord trouser collection. They haven't sagged and gone shapeless like some cord trousers can. The yellow ones look winningly tatty around the pockets.

Good Shops for Corduroys

Some good corduroy trouser action to be had in:

If You Are Going for Tailoring

If you are looking for a corduroy suit, Porter and Harding, now owned by Lear Brown and Dunsford, produce English corduroys in lovely colours from a hefty 25oz to 15oz.

Is this the End for the Corduroy Club?

Over in Anglo-America, where they say that one-in-five pairs of trousers bought is in corduroy, could this year's meeting of the Corduroy Appreciation Club be the final one? There was talk, maybe unfounded?


  1. In July 2013 I bought a pair of green (lovat) Corduroy trousers. The only pair of corduroys I have ever bought. The previous ones were the dark blue corduroy short trousers that my mother bought for me for primary school.
    Oh a lifetime of comfort missed.
    The trousers of the fabric of Nimes were forbidden unto me by my new wife in 1974. Since then I have sought trouser comfort.
    Now I have found it. Now I have four pairs of corduroys.

    1. I also like corduroy trousers and pants , I usually buy medium wale and wide wale corduroy pants.

      Daryl Shim , Canada

  2. We sell lots of corduroy, with our biggest markets being the US and Japan.

    I can't see the demand for cord every stopping, although, like most cloths, fashion does dictate.

    Five years ago you couldn't give tweed away. Look at it now..... It's everywhere!

    1. Thanks Yorkshire. Why not drop us a line and we can tell our readers about your ranges?

  3. It is impossible to find a pair of elephant cord trousers for women - help?

    1. Thanks Alicia. I'm a bit stumped. They seem to think ladies only want the pin cord. Readers can we help a damsel in distress?

  4. I'm a great fan of corduroy trousers and own several pairs of Cordings. You might be interested in what my mother told me.

    She was born in 1911 and said that when she was a girl Manchester corduroy was what workmen and labourers used to wear. She said when the trousers were new they were so stiff you could get them to stand up on their own and that they lasted for ages, softening with wearing and washing.

    1. Thanks Hugo. Yes, corduroy can be pretty robust. Like denim, it has a workwear origin. Give me corduroy over denim any day. Best wishes, Tweedy

    2. Yes, alot of men are choosing corduroy pants but they still buy denim


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