Coined from the French around the late 18th Century using the translation 'cloth of the King', corduroy has been a perennial classically British fabric since being worn by King Henry 8th in 16th Century Britain. However, it has also become a classic fabric featured within my collections from the beginnings of my short history. Since I started, I've loved using corduroy, sourced from Lancashire, and tend to use soft and velvety needlecord for my dresses and skirts. This season I've introduced a new inky navy colour in two styles to sit alongside the classic vintage red and black of my Petticoat Lane and Redchurch dresses.
Whilst I don't adhere to trends, corduroy does seem to be having a moment on the catwalks and high street. Corduroy, however, has far reaching roots with it's origins from 'fustian', a cotton woven textile being used and manufactured in 200 AD in Egypt. I love that it's been around for centuries!
When the cotton trade grew between the 12th and 14th centuries, the fabric was distributed throughout Europe via Italy, becoming popular with royalty and the wealthy. King Henry 8th himself was a fan, with the most expensive quality being most akin to the original true-cut pile that we recognise today as the 'wales' or cords creating the ribbed texture of its surface. Slowly the fashion for corduroy filtered through into the 18th Century, becoming known for it practicality and warmth. It became more of a practical, protective textile than a symbol of wealth, and became known by the name we call it today, corduroy.
Throughout the 19th and 20th century corduroy was seen as a signifier of wealth, the 'poor man's velvet'. It lined the backs of farmers smocks and used for school uniforms. It was even used to make soldiers uniforms during WW1 and dressed the Womans Land Army. By the mid 20th century corduroy did become more fashionable, being seen as modern and sporty, and a universal favourite for rich and poor, young and old alike. In the 70's, corduroy was a fashion favourite with Biba and other new generation designers who loved the fabric's anti-establishment casual nonconformity. Maybe this is why corduroy has now become so popular again...
Regardless of its symbolism or history, corduroy is both a strong yet romantic fabric, dressed up or down it manages to look cool whilst comfortable. My cord is an ideal weight for dresses, lovely and warm but with a softness to gather and drape. My most popular Petticoat Lane dress still goes strong in vintage red and black, the Redchurch dress appears vintage red and I chose to reimagine the Lavender Hill apron wrap skirt in corduroy as it perfectly embodied the feeling of 'practical yet pretty'. Cinching in at the waist with a tie creates a flattering silhouette, whilst the large front pockets are perfectly convenient. The London Fields dress become a dreamy modern take on the 70's featuring black cotton Nottingham lace.
I hope you are liking my new collection, including those in soft needlecord, and please do explore the website.