Posted on July 16 2019
When it was time to look for buttons for our garments, there was one company we just had to work with – Courtney and Co.
As well as making the highest quality buttons using natural materials, the Gloucestershire-based firm's history and heritage have extraordinary parallels with our own.
We asked them to make these beautiful buttons for our polo shirts, which are currently in development. And not only do they enhance the aesthetics of our garments, they enhance their provenance too.
Just as we brought cotton back to the UK, Courtney and Co have resurrected button making. And like us, they are now sole British manufacturers in what was once an important industry for the country.
Button-making in the UK is a centuries old craft and as far back as the 16th Century, British-made buttons were traded by the merchant explorers of India, Cathay, the Spice Islands and beyond in exchange for exotic goods.
At the industry’s peak there were dozens of button-making factories across the country, but just like the cotton industry, things began to decline in the middle of the last century.
Global sourcing and cheaper imports took their toll. In the 60s, just 50 button companies remained and by 2012, there was only one left – James Grove & Sons Ltd, a family business of 155 years that was highly regarded worldwide.
When they shut their doors for the last time, yet another British industry had all but died out.
But the following year, an appeal in Country Life magazine for help to save the bankrupt firm’s production machinery inspired commodities broker David Courtney to take action. His initial idea to purchase the machinery and lease it to the company leading the rescue campaign didn't go to plan. Left with the last remaining means of making buttons in the UK, David took matters into his own hands.
Courtney and Co was founded in 2016. David and his team acquired the skills they needed to make British buttons once again, like the ones in these pictures that have been inscribed with our initials.
Using a natural material called Corozo, which is derived from a type of nut, they turn, dye and finish their buttons with traditional techniques that could have been lost forever.
We aim to use the buttons on our polo shirts, and in the future on shirts, so we hope to be ordering many more from our fellow industry mavericks at Courtney and Co.