Gieves and Hawkes

I have been puzzling over the fact that Gieves and Hawkes has two different dates – 1771 and 1785 – prominently displayed on its main façade.   How come ?  The answer is that Thomas Hawkes, having previously worked for a Mr. Moy, who supplied velvet hats on Swallow Street, set up shop in Brewer Street in 1771, selling clothing to the military.   He moved to No. 17, Piccadilly where, in 1793, he was described as ‘Helmet, Hat and Capmaker to the King’.   The company later developed not only the shako, but  the solar topee, before merging with Gieve in 1974.   The date of 1785 relates to the date of foundation of Gieve.   This may be wrong.   James Watson Gieve, who gave his name to the firm, was born in 1820.   He was apprenticed to Augustus Meredith, who ran a firm of military tailors at 73, High Street, Portsmouth.   Meredith’s father, Melchizedek, had apparently established the firm in 1784, kitting out naval officers, including Nelson.   Gieve became a partner in the firm in 1852.   So, by my reckoning, it should say 1784:

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One thought on “Gieves and Hawkes

  1. Joan Keating says:

    Tailoring premises. Whenever I go somewhere new I amuse myself by looking for a branch of Burtons (now usually housing a Superdrug or other chain). You can spot them easily by the upstairs room which – in a Burton’s marketing ruse – often contained a snooker hall. Over 15 years ago I worked as a postdoc researcher on a history of the Leeds clothing industry. I was delighted to find that when Harold Wilson was visiting one of the Burton factories it was decided that, as a visiting dignitary, the company would make him a suit. Alongside his measurements in the Burton archives (then housed at Sheepscar in Leeds) were the faintly damning words ‘short portly’.

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