Turnbull & Asser

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Turnbull & Asser
Industry Fashion
Founded 1885; 132 years ago (1885)
Founder Reginald Turnbull
Ernest Asser
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Number of locations
Three stores in London and one in New York City
Key people
Ali Al-Fayed
Dean Gomilsek-Cole
(Head designer)
Products Shirts, knitwear, suits, neckties, hosiery
Services Bespoke, made-to-measure, ready-to-wear
Website www.turnbullandasser.com (American website)
www.turnbullandasser.co.uk (British website)

Turnbull & Asser is a gentleman's bespoke shirtmaker, clothier and tie maker established in 1885. The company has its flagship store on Jermyn Street, St James's, two more stores in London, and two in New York City.

The firm has dressed figures such as Prince Charles, Sir Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, John Kerry, Charlie Chaplin, and Picasso. Although extremely traditional outfitters, the company is known for its particularly vivid colours in shirts, knitwear, socks, and ties, all of which are made in England.


Turnbull & Asser was founded in 1885 by Reginald Turnbull, a hosier, and Ernest Asser, a salesman. Together, they opened a hosiery under the name "John Arthur Turnbull" in St. James's in the West End of London. As the neighborhood was the site of numerous gentlemen's clubs and high-end haberdashers, Turnbull's business flourished. The name was changed to "Turnbull & Asser" in 1895.

In 1903, after continued success, Turnbull & Asser moved to its present location at the corner of Jermyn Street and Bury Street. In 1915, during World War I, Turnbull & Asser developed a raincoat which doubled as a sleeping bag for the British Military. It is known as the Oilsilk Combination Coverall & Ground Sheet.[1] During the 1920s, as dress became less formal, men's dress shirts became more noticeable articles of clothing. Turnbull & Asser responded by focusing its business more on shirtmaking, for which it is most known today.

Between the 1920s and the 1970s, Turnbull & Asser grew its London business from a haberdashery to a clothier, expanding into sportswear, clothing (both bespoke and off-the peg), and off-the-peg shirts. As its symbol, it used a hunting horn with a "Q" above, which it called the Quorn, a name it shares with one of the oldest hunts in England. Many of Turnbull & Asser's articles were called by this name, such as the popular "Quorn scarf". During the 1960s, Turnbull & Asser even had been known for catering to the Swinging London set, with vibrant colors and "modern" designs. In 1962, Turnbull & Asser began to outfit the cinematic James Bond as first portrayed by Sean Connery, whose dress shirts had turnback cuffs fastened with buttons as opposed to cufflinks, referred to as Portofino, or cocktail cuffs, or James Bond cuffs.[1]

In the 1970s and 1980s, however, Turnbull & Asser began reviving some of the more traditional aspects of its business. The company found that Americans increasingly were buying its wares, so it began offering trunk shows at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. Beginning in 1974, Turnbull & Asser sold ready-to-wear shirts in the United States through department stores Bonwit Teller and Neiman Marcus. For a brief period beginning in 1979, Turnbull & Asser even operated a small store in Toronto opened by Tony Carlisle and Kenneth Williams.

Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, has bought shirts from Turnbull & Asser since his youth. When, in 1980, the Prince was granted the power of bestowing royal warrants, his first issue was granted to Turnbull & Asser.[2] He also wears Turnbull & Asser suits, made by the former Chester Barrie factory in Crewe, Cheshire.


Ali Al-Fayed, younger brother of Mohamed Al-Fayed, former owner of Harrods, bought Turnbull & Asser in 1986. He renovated the Jermyn Street store, installing computerised cash registers and updating the interior.

Turnbull & Asser still make their shirts in the UK, from their factory in Quedgeley, Gloucester, which employs over 100 people.[3]

Cultural references[edit]

  • In the 1974 film The Great Gatsby, the famous scene where Daisy Buchanan collapses in tears after seeing Jay Gatsby's shirt collection used Turnbull & Asser shirts (with the boxes and name clearly visible), despite the fact that designer Ralph Lauren had made all the other men's clothes in the film.
  • The 1999 film The Avengers features a scene at Turnbull & Asser's Jermyn Street store, in which John Steed is being measured for bespoke shirts.
  • The famous British spy character James Bond wears bespoke Turnbull & Asser shirts on film, and the store also created a special edition James Bond evening shirt for the 2006 version of Casino Royale. The company stopped the manufacture of this limited edition item in March 2008.
  • The title character of the FX Network's half-hour animated spy comedy Archer, which draws heavily from the aforementioned James Bond ethos, wears bespoke Turnbull & Asser shirts.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Turnbull & Asser Review". Retrieved 2006-07-04. 
  2. ^ "Turnbull & Asser: Royal Warrant". Turnbull & Asser. Retrieved 3 December 2015. 
  3. ^ "Turnbull & Asser: The best of British". The Telegraph. London. 2 September 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 

External links[edit]