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This week in history...

Middlesbrough indie Psyche trialled 24-hour opening, the Co-op’s Oxford Street store disappointed, and a new type of glove was patented in London.  

10 years ago…

Drapers stayed up all night in its July 31 1999 issue when it paid a visit to Middlesbrough indie Psyche, which in its month-long Sale was trialling 24-hour opening in its menswear branch.

With black coffee at hand, Drapers joined the team, including managing director Steve Cochrane, to work through the night on a Friday.

Between 6pm and 7pm the store became “really busy”, reported Drapers, and then a few regulars popped in to snap up some shirts and denim from 7pm to 8pm. 

Later into the evening, at 9.10pm a group of teenagers were seen hanging around the store entrance and, bemused to see the store still open, daringly pushed one giggling girl inside before fleeing across the street.

As it got quieter, at 11.10pm the staff took the opportunity to restock the shelves in preparation for the Saturday rush. After pub closing time, Cochrane tightened up security by shutting the door to discourage drunken wanderers.

However, at 12.05am two young men, “rather the worse for wear” entered the store and drunkenly staggered around, closely followed by Psyche staff. They left without buying anything. Shortly after, at 12.35am, the last purchase of the night was made, a Dolce & Gabbana shirt. However, the store stayed open till 5am.

35 years ago…

Traders in several parts of the country were threatening to join forces in non-payment of rates in protest at the government’s failure to provide rates relief for struggling businesses, according to the August 3 1974 issue of Drapers.

Retailers in the West Country said they may soon hold demonstrations, such was their anger after Chancellor Denis Healey provided relief only for domestic ratepayers.

The secretary of the Somerset Chamber of Trade, Mr F A Wedlake, told Drapers: “Now is the time for all traders to fight this thing. Most other West Country chambers are 100% behind us in our efforts.”

Also in the news this week, retail group Sears abandoned its bid for Nottingham Manufacturing Co after it was referred to the Monopolies Commission.

Leonard Sainer, deputy chairman of Sears, said it was now unlikely that Sears would mount any more bids in the UK.

Over in Paris, Drapers reported back from the couture shows, at which the return of the dress was hailed in collections that were “refined and ladylike, but certainly not dull”.

49 years ago…

London Oxford Street was proving a difficult site for The Co-operative Society, after the opening of its debut store there met with disappointing sales, reported Drapers on July 30 1960.

The six-floor store, which opened in October 1959, was predicted to rack up annual sales of £1m, but its first year of trading was expected to fall short of that figure. As a comparison, the Co-op’s store in Romford in Essex made £1m of sales in 50 weeks the year before.  

The Co-op denied reports it may attempt to rescue the Oxford Street store, which focused on branded fashion, by widening its appeal with a food hall or restaurant, and dismissed rumours the store might even be sold.

Meanwhile, Menswear (later incorporated into Drapers) paid a visit to Brussels to cast its eye on the suits shown by bespoke tailors at the congress of the International Federation of Master Tailors.

The magazine noticed that among many of the collections shown by exhibitors from 13 countries were clear signs of the influence on the London Line, the slender, shapely style that was reintroduced to suits by London tailors two years ago.

Indeed, some tailors were said to have “out-Londoned London” in their meticulous regard for natural shoulder slope, length and width of lapel, slightness of sleeve and trouser width.     

70 years ago…

The War Office was called on to review the list of approved tailors and set up a scheme to standardise the quality of officers’ uniforms made by tailors, according to the August 5 1939 issue of Menswear.

The National Federation of Merchant Tailors (NFMT) said the current list of tailors was “defective”, and that exclusion from the list could damage a tailor’s business by implying that they could not satisfactorily make a suit for an officer. There were also some tailors on the list who preferred not to be.

The uniforms, which had standard prices, also needed a quality standard to which approved tailors would work, said the NFMT.

However, the War Office, which of course paid for the suits, said it would approve whoever it wished.

Also this week, Drapers reported on a new type of glove for women that was patented in London. Made of suede, it had small slots in the finger tips through which the finger nails could be seen.

The importance of black in womenswear was also made clear, and illustrated by a window display from John Lewis on London’s Oxford Street.

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