A Salute to Manchester: Private White V.C.

We thought last season that Private White V.C. had executed their most ambitious and eclectic collection, but this one trumps it.

Returning from Perth, Scotland the other weekend on the TransPennine Express, it was a route that meandered through Manchester, intermittently allowing a bird’s-eye view of the city’s magnificently dreary pre-Edwardian warehouse buildings. Dark and smoky from coal vapours, the intensity of the stains was marginally relieved by an unusually bright day in northwest England. Manchester once held the position as the global centre of the finished cotton trade; earning the city the moniker ‘Cottonopolis’. Already in decline before WW1, the industry petered out, thus the demise of the textile factories. But the future is bright for one grand red-brick warehouse. Named Cottenham House, today it is the last remaining clothing factory in Manchester still in operation, and home to one of the finest names in menswear: Private White V.C.

A year ago, and during a rare interval when the UK’s Covid-19 cases had abated, The Rake were kindly invited by CEO, James Eden to visit the factory. Warmly greeted by Eden, and of course Brutus the office dog, we witnessed first-hand not only the scale of their commitment in supporting the NHS, but their efforts in alleviating the threat of job losses. In a very short time frame, Private White V.C. became the largest manufacturer of medical-grade gowns and surgical masks in the country, and instead of letting staff go, they managed to create over 50 full-time jobs in the region.

Contributor

Freddie Anderson

Published

November 2021

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