Eton Shirts: Luxury for men from the cold
I got to know the ETON Shirts brand when Pierre-Benoit Duhamel, the founder of Clusier, told me about it while I was interviewing him for an article. This Swedish company is a family affair. They have been making fine men’s shirts since 1928. Their factory and headquarters are in Gånghester, Sweden, where their very first shirts were sewn. Born out of Swedish craftsmanship and attention to detail, it is today one of the world’s leading shirt manufacturers. The company is present in 49 markets in some of the most exclusive stores in the world, like our partner Clusier.
In many ways, the history of the company is that of its founders, David and Annie Pettersson. At the start of their marriage, Mrs. Pettersson began sewing kitchen dresses for family and neighbors. However, when the crisis hit in the 1920s, Mr. Pettersson was forced to shut down the family sawmill. This leads him to join his wife, whose business is developing rapidly. Together they launch Syfabriken Special (Swedish for “The Special Sewing Factory”) and choose to place their primary focus on creating men’s shirts, which quickly became popular among the locals.
As the sons of the Pettersson couple, Rune and Arne Davidson, began to travel the world in search of new fabrics well suited to thin shirts. Their travels will inevitably take them to England, which as you are sure to know has long been a world leader in fine fabrics. On one of these excursions, in 1948, they passed through the small town of Eton, a name that greatly appealed to the brothers. Together they take off a new garment and soon “The Eton Shirt” is released.
The Eton name
The Skjortfabriken Special company is so well known for the Eton shirt that it adopted “Eton” as a new name in 1950. Faced with the increased demand that almost shattered the seams of the company’s factory, it was imperative for them to find a bigger site. With the aim of remaining in the city where it was born, Gånghester, the brand designs and begins work on a new, very modern factory. Relying heavily on the innovative technology of Inge (Annie and David’s son), which he later transformed into a clean company, Eton Systems, the new space is a marvel, setting the tone for many years to come. production of top quality shirts.
The success abroad for Eton shirts
Although Eton is known for its high-quality clothing, unfortunately the company still struggles to get its message across to retailers worthy of their quality. To combat this problem, Eton hires a new sales team, including Rune Hallgren. Although he barely speaks English, Hallgren makes sure to come across a small British clothing store. After examining the superior craftsmanship of Eton’s clothing, the owner placed a small order in 1955. The first overseas success was achieved.
The factory’s garment transport and storage process is far too inefficient for the volume expected by the company. Inge Davidson (son of Eton’s founders David and Annie) – who spent much of his childhood tinkering with sewing machines – sets out to create a solution. The result is an automated transport line that transports parts from each stage of development, making planning, storage and quality control of shirt production much more economical. Introduced in 1963, this innovation will not only help Eton withstand growing competition from newly industrialized countries, but will also revolutionize the entire clothing industry.
In 1992, the company introduced the Eton Etastar, the world’s first wrinkle-resistant, 100% cotton shirt. The first retailer to sell the product is none other than Harrods, which sells an impressive volume of around 600 shirts in the first week alone. To further stimulate the release, designer Jan Borghardt convinced the department store to implement its very first promotional campaign. This campaign creates echoes around the world and makes this shirt the best-selling shirt by Harrods.
In 2010, Eton shirts opens a flagship store in downtown Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Housed in a two-story venue, this New York location houses the entire Swedish line-up, as well as a showroom and VIP area for guests. Over the next three years, the brand opened new flagship stores in London, Stockholmt as well as their own online store.
2016 is a new chapter for the Eton shirts, where the story becomes clearer and more diverse. They reveal a new identity with an updated logo and labels, as well as new interior fittings and changes to their collections. Red Ribbon is renamed Eton Collection, Green Ribbon in Eton Green and Black Ribbon in Evening. They also present a new collection of stylish shirts for all casual occasions – Unbuttoned.
The company is also expanding its product line by adding shirts inspired by classic sports jackets and a luxury tuque in 100% Italian wool – in the true spirit of the brand.