|Headquarters||Leeds, United Kingdom|
Number of locations
|3 flagship stores, 40+ stockists worldwide|
|Products||Coats, suits, fashion accessories|
J&J Crombie Ltd. is a British fashion company, which produces high-end clothing and accessories under its Crombie brand. Crombie is most famous for its luxury coats – so much so that the word ‘Crombie’ is sometimes used by other companies to refer to their own coats produced in the style of Crombie’s most famous three-quarter length (usually wool) overcoats, although the Crombie company has been known to take legal action to prevent this trademark word from being used generically.
J&J Crombie Ltd. was founded by John Crombie and his son James in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1805, making it one of Britain’s oldest brands. Crombie has manufactured from several different mills in Scotland and England over two centuries, initially at Cothal Mills in Aberdeen, and most famously from 1859 at Grandholm Mill also in Aberdeen. In 1990, production at the Grandholm Mill ceased, and was moved to other mills in Scotland and England. (The A-listed Grandholm factory site was converted into a residential project in 2005. Part of the mill is now an Indian restaurant called The Spice Mill, which has maintained the original elements of the factory.)
Crombie began as a producer of luxury cloth, which it sold to cloth merchants and direct to London tailors. By the 1850s, Crombie had won quality awards from Queen Victoria and Napoleon III at the Great Exhibition in London and the Exposition Universelle in Paris respectively. Later, Crombie expanded from simply manufacturing the fabric for other producers, to creating coats under its own name.
A key factor in Crombie’s expansion, from the 1860s onwards, was the receipt of military contracts. Crombie supplied ‘Rebel Grey’ cloth for the Confederate Army in the American Civil War, and also supplied officers’ uniforms to the British Army and Royal Air Force in World Wars One and Two.
Starting in the late 1960s or early 1970s, Crombie-style coats were popular within the skinhead and suedehead subcultures, although very few skinheads would have been able to afford a brand new Crombie coat. Crombie coats were also fashionable among mods, who saw them as a stylish item of clothing that enhanced their clean-cut image. It was an alternative to the popular fishtail parka or trenchcoat.
Crombie has long marketed itself at international statesmen and royals. It has enjoyed particular success in Russia, where Crombie began supplying to the Tsarist court from 1880, and even in 1984 it was observed that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was wearing a Crombie coat when he visited Britain that December. Crombie lists King George VI, Winston Churchill, Cary Grant, Dwight D Eisenhower and John F Kennedy among its historic customers. From 1995-2004, Crombie also held the Royal Warrant as a supplier to the Prince of Wales. In 2014 it was announced the new Twelfth Doctor, as played by Peter Capaldi, will wear a Crombie with a red lining.
The founding Crombie family sold their interest in the company in 1928, to another British textile family, the Salts (famous as the founders of Saltaire in West Yorkshire). After the Second World War, Crombie became part of Illingworth Morris – at that time Britain’s largest woolen textile company, of which British actress Pamela Mason was the majority shareholder. In the 1980s the company was taken private by its Chairman. Crombie is also known to hold the rights to Savile Row suit tailor Tommy Nutter's brand name, having backed him financially in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The company continues to trade today, and currently has three stand-alone stores: in London, Manchester and Edinburgh. Crombie is also sold through independent retailers, such as Harrods in Britain, and comparable department stores in North America, Europe and East Asia. Crombie also sells worldwide over its website.