The Manchester Factory of Private White VC
It's an exciting time at the P&P headquarters this time of year, with new deliveries and new brands arriving weekly for the next month or two. In some cases it's a brand we've had in store previously making a return to the racks for 2016; Private White VC is one such brand.
The story of Private White VC and it's Manchester Factory, pictured above, is an interesting one, as is their association with the famous Goodwood Revival Race meeting, so here's a little background and imagery to give you some insight....
Private Jack White VC - Pictured on the right
The brand's namesake, Private Jack White, was a true British hero. He received the Victoria Cross for his actions under enemy fire in Mesopotamia during the first world war in 1917 - the most prestigious military honour that can be achieved by British and Commonwealth forces. After the war he went on to work in the clothing industry, specifically as a trainee pattern maker in a small Manchester factory. Rising through the ranks he eventually became the general manager, and then finally the owner of the factory. His perseverance wasn't limited to the battlefield it seems!
Following WWII and with failing health, Jack was forced to relinquish his interest in the business and passed away in 1949 at the age of 52. The story doesn't end there, however. Fast forward almost 50 years to 1997 and the company was acquired by Jack's Great Grandchildren who, after producing British made garments for others, decided to produce their own line of clothing inspired by the legacy, history and even wardrobe of their Great Grandfather who founded the factory as we know it today.
The Cutting Table - Top Floor at PWVC, Manchester
The Private White V.C. clothing brand is manufactured in its very own factory. The facility has been in continuous operation for more than 100 years and is positioned in the heart of Manchester, and while almost every other building of its time and industry has crumbled or been knocked down around it, the Private White VC factory stands proudly as a symbol of its dedication to British textiles and local industry.
Original machinery and tools take centre stage at the factory, with equipment such as the Manchester-made T.Walker & Co. cutting machine, dating back to the 1950s, still playing a vital role in the manufacturing process. Fabric choices are another vital component with regard to the manufacturing philosophy and only the finest British fabrics, trims and components, sourced locally where possible, are used in production.
Pattern racks at the Private White VC Factory
In terms of design and brand representation, the folks at PWVC have yet another ace up their sleeve, namely Mr. Nick Ashley. Nick is a stakeholder in the company as well as wearing the hat of creative director and head designer; although motorcycle racer is another of his major pass times (follow him on IG if you want to get a look at his rather enviable lifestyle). The surname may sound familiar to some, as Nick is the son of the late Laura Ashley, who's textile design and retail empire grew to enormous proportions through the 1960's and 1970's.
Given his background, it's no surprise that Nick chose a fashion degree at St Martins School of Art following his secondary education. He subsequently worked for his mother, Laura Ashley, Kenzo, Tod's of Italy and Dunhill to name but a few - not a bad bit of experience to back up his position...
Nick Ashley of Private White VC
The connection of the brand to the Goodwood Revival probably has a lot to do with Nick's passion for racing, as well as his establishment background and the very English nature of both the brand and the event itself. The Goodwood Revival race meeting is held every September at the Goodwood Racing Circuit, Chichester and is quite the spectacle in terms of historic vehicles and, equally as important, historic clothing and style.
Started in 1998 on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Goodwood Racing Circuit, the event has grown each year with the ever expanding appreciation for the heyday of British Motor Racing in the 50's and 60's. The fashion and costume are outstanding, and the historic racing cars simply spectacular...
Private White VC E-Type Jaguar racing at Goodwood
In 2014 Private White VC were asked to design the official workwear for the Goodwood Revival and the result was the Goodwood Worksuit. This three piece casual suit was based on the uniform of factory workers and back street mechanics in the 1960's and stays true to form in terms of production. The cotton is Egyptian, locally woven, and each garment is individually dyed and washed to achieve the correct colour. The buttons are polished horn, removable with ring backs to enable customisation and ease of washing and the jacket is complete with Goodwood x PWVC woven label to support the story and provenance.
Private White VC Team - Goodwood Revival