For centuries, in fact, in the areas between Yorkshire and Lancashire, at the foot of the Pennines, textile products were produced with ancient methods: spinning was done by hand at home or in the stalls and then the fabric was made on hand looms.
Some inventors mechanised textile machinery, greatly multiplying production thanks to the use of hydraulic energy. In those years an important waterway was built connecting Liverpool to Leeds, Yorkshire’s textile hub.
The first boats arrived loaded with cotton from the West Indies.
Thomas Mason, who had guessed well as regards to current potential, founded one of the first cotton fabric factories in Leeds for shirts. The fabrics, which were top quality even then, were used by West End London tailors for the aristocracy and rich upper class and were later exported all over the British Empire and everywhere else in the world.
The Victorian era marked the maximum expansion of the British Empire. This was also true for the industry founded by Thomas Mason which grew and consolidated, becoming a benchmark for male elegance. Its beating heart is the St. James’s area in London, the home of the most exclusive Clubs and shoe-, umbrella-, hat-, stick- and shirt-makers which, as time went by, became concentrated in Jeremyn Street. This tiny street, near Piccadilly, became the world’s shirt capital.
The death of Queen Victoria sanctioned the end of an era and with the start of the First World War in 1914 the social and economical life of the nation underwent a drastic change. Even Thomas Mason is called to contribute to the war cause. In fact, new fabrics and treatments are experimented in the factory to make cotton waterproof, resistant to fire and mimetic. The helicopter immersion pilots wore special suits made of densely woven cotton which became waterproof on contact with the sea. The Thomas Mason fabrics saved the lives of many airmen who would otherwise have died of exposure.
London, with its famous Savile Row and Jermyn Street, is once again confirmed the centre of international male elegance.
The Prince of Wales comes to the throne with Edward VIII but after only a few months abdicated for the love of Wally Simpson. Nominated Duke of Windsor, for many, many years he impersonates the role of referee of the most elegant and aristocratic style between the two wars. It was then that Thomas Mason became the exclusive supplier for Turnbull and Asser, the shirt-maker of English Royalty. Comfort and above all colour are the pillars of fashion at that time. Turning over the pages of the archives of those years it is the designs and polychrome patterns that catch the eye.
London is once again at the centre of a costume revolution. Traditional male elegance lets itself become involved in this new fashion trend and some brilliant stylists throw a bridge between Savile Row, Jermyn Street and Carnaby Street. Clothing is colourful, imaginative and fun. Even the shirt becomes eccentric and a star with stripe and check patterns in open-minded colours to go with the typical and very flashy kipper ties.
The English brands Thomas Mason and David & John Anderson are acquired by the Albini family of Bergamo, together with their two-century long history with tradition consisting of a heritage of seven hundred volumes in which we find the collection of fabric designs of incomparable value, historical and aesthetic.
Thomas Mason fabrics, inspired by the collections inside the historical archives, went down in the continuous lines Silverline and Goldline besides the seasonal collections, still represent the benchmark for lovers of the British taste.
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