The resurgence of British heritage brands has put this duffle coat specialist back in the spotlight.
With almost 59 years of trading under its belt, Northamptonshire outerwear brand Gloverall is understandably proud of its heritage. It is renowned for its duffle coats and has been since its inception just after the Second World War when the government found itself with a surplus of Royal Navy-issue duffle coats, which it sold to Harold and Freda Morris.
The Morris’s were selling gloves and overalls, hence the brand name, but soon the coat – made from a heavy woollen cloth manufactured in the Belgian town of Duffel, complete with its wooden tog buttons and pancake hood – became the core part of the business.
International sales and marketing manager Mark Smith says: “For more than 60 years Gloverall has been about the duffle – when duffles are on trend we sell duffles and when they’re not, we still sell duffles. But Gloverall is evolving into a relevant British coat brand. We are seeing growth in reefers and other military and workwear coats and this is key. For autumn 10 we have concentrated on areas that are identifiable about Gloverall – duffles, British reefers and military coats, all in heritage fabrics.”
It’s a sound tactic, according to René Darnell, partner at Grimsby indie Henri Beene, which stocked Gloverall for the first time this autumn. He says: “Heritage is a key word now – it’s a quirk of the recession that more consumers become more discerning and that means things like Englishness and authenticity have more value. Brands like Barbour have woken up to this and, with their designers churning out new interpretations of classics, have seen sales spike.”
Darnell says Gloverall can confidently follow this path. “This season [autumn 09] can be a catalyst for Gloverall and in autumn 10 and even 11 we will see the brand become significant.”
Smith says consumers’ love of all things British has had a real impact on sales. “Gloverall had been a bit of a sleepy British brand in the past but as a brand you have to be able to manage and maximise the effect from this but also ensure longevity.”
Smith is realistic: “Trends fade but I see this [heritage] being significant for quite a few more seasons yet. We have true heritage, still make in England and we are finding that is more relevant.”
In terms of UK distribution, the brand is being selective and is realigning its account base. Smith says: “The accounts we have decided to open are mainly in the premium sector. We are giving these retailers exclusivity within their area and have a good number of new accounts already lined up for appointments for autumn 10.”
Entry point for wholesale prices, which go up to £140
2.7 to 3
Mark-up on Gloverall’s collection
Sales split between menswear and womenswear