Using only the finest natural fibres, John Crombie quickly established a reputation throughout Britain for the quality of his luxury cloth. Each year, he would set out on horseback to sell his prized fabrics - not only to cloth merchants, but also direct to London tailors eager for the richest offerings to present to their noble clients.
The Lion originally featured on the Crombie family coat-of-arms; The black and white stripes represent the warm & the shuttle represents the weft of a loom; the ram's head alludes to the highly prized "Golden Fleece" of ancient mythology."
The company receives an award from the "Board of Trustees for Fisheries and Manufactures in Scotland", for the exceptional standard of its Forest cloth - the woollen cloth of the time. Wool was scoured and milled, spun and woven and subsequently tailored to produce Elysian overcoatings worn by the best-dressed men.
James Crombie, the eldest son, joins the expanding company, which continues to prosper through the post Napoleonic War period.
The main production was tweele and wincey, woven mainly in blues and greys, having already been dyed in the west of England. Folk etymology suggests that the word "tweed" was born at around this time as a result of a London merchant misinterpreting a Crombie employee's badly handwritten letter referring to an order of tweele.
By the mid-nineteenth century, the Crombie business has established its reputation amongst the fashionable drapers of London and Paris.
Crombie's fine wools, tweeds, cashmeres and merinos became the fabric of choice for Savile Row tailors and gentlemen of taste.
The first agent to Crombie in London 1849
As the Victorian era progresses, the Crombie name becomes renowned for excellence and fine craftsmanship.
In 1851, Crombie's cloth was presented at the Great Exhibition, and was awarded a prize medal by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert "For Superior Manufacture and Beauty of Design".
In 1885 At the Exposition Universelle in Paris, Crombie is similarly commended by Napoleon III.
The outbreak of the American Civil War establishes a new export market.
Business increased five-fold as Crombie received large orders for "Rebel Grey" cloth from the Confederate army - who had no mills of their own in the blockaded South.
Crombie wove many of the fabrics that protected the world's armies, most notably the wollen cloth that became the legenday British Warm greatcoat
Queen Victoria's commissioner commends Crombie cloth at the International Exhibition held in London in 1862.
John Crombie's grandson Theodore journeys extensively across the globe, with trunks filled with Crombie's trademark cloth, to secure new markets in Europe.
Such was his success that in 1871, during the Prussian siege of Paris, an order was famously sent by hot air balloon to secure delivery of the legendary cloth. Theodore's agents went on to establish the Crombie brand name as far afield as Canada and even Japan - where Crombie's agent was Thomas Glover, who went on to help establish the Mitsubishi Corporation, and supposedly inspired Pucccini's opera Madam Butterfly.
Links with Russia are established which persist to the present day.
Crombie entered the Russian market in 1880 with the "Russian Coat" - a heavy pile coat specially designed to shield wearers from the harsh Russian winter. Crombie soon established a favourable reputation in Russia, and became the fabric of choice for Tsars, the Russian Imperial court, and later even the Politburo.
When the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev stepped onto British soil for the first time at Heathrow in December 1984, television commentators observed that he was wearing his British Crombie coat.
Crombie turns its expertise to lighter weight coats, suits and morning coats for markets opening up in France, Germany and Belgium.
The Crombie "Beaver-Raised" woollen overcoating proved an international success, particularly for gentlemen's wedding attire. The cloth, made from merino wool, was given a secret finish that imparted a mirror-like gloss.
Their majesties Queen Mary and King George V on a visit to one of Crombie's factories in 1912.
During the First World War, Crombie temporarily switched its production to military officers' uniforms.
Such was the extent of Crombie's production that one tenth of all greatcoats worn by British officers were made from Crombie cloth. The term "British Warm" was coined at this time to describe the coat made from Crombie cloth. The name remains synonymous with Crombie to this day.
[krom'bi] The name of J&J Crombie Limited, a Scottish firm of clothmakers, used to designate a type of overcoat, jacket, etc., made by them. Oxford English Dictionary
Another textile family, the famous Salts of Saltaire, West Yorkshire, bring Crombie into the Illingworth Morris group - creating what becomes Britain's largest textile group for much of the twentieth century.
The fabric of British menswear for over two centuries. Moving into the future with a rich legacy.
The Duke of York (later King George VI) visits a Crombie mill in 1932, wearing a coat created by Crombie especially for him.
This design was revived and re-released by Crombie in 2009 as the "King Coat".
In the Second World War, Crombie once again makes its contribution for Britain.
During 1941 alone, Crombie's output included overcoats for 90,450 soldiers, 23,364 RAF officers, and 12,042 US army officers. In 1942, Crombie supplied the Norwegian resistance movement with a dark grey cloth to match that of the occupying German troops. Despite the vast quantities involved, the cloth produced by Crombie during this period maintained its legendary status, on account of the exceptional quality of every garment.
With its war work over, Crombie reassumes its position as a purveyor of fine British fashion to celebrities royalty, and statesmen worldwide.
Mrs. Mason and her family went on become majority shareholders in Crombie
Over the centuries many of the world's greatest statesmen, adopted Crombie's refined formalwear as a key part of their public image.
"Reagan liked Crombie cloths so much, he had 13 suits made from them and was wearing one when John Hinckley shot him."
The brand's enduring simplicity and elegance have allowed it to be rediscovered afresh by every generation - a style constantly imitated, but never equalled.
The Beatles The Olympia Theatre, Paris 1964
When the legendary British tailor Tommy Nutter sought to return to Savile Row with his own ready-to-wear range, he approached Crombie for support. A partnership was formed in 1983, and for the next 10 years Crombie and Tommy Nutter products were sold alongside each other from the same shop.
During this time, our joint store at 19 Savile Row had clients including Elton John, Eric Clapton, Cher and Mick Jagger. Tommy Nutter produced a variety of eye-catching designs - including Jack Nicholson's Joker costumes for the 1989 Batman movie - while Crombie supplied him with the cloth.
Since Tommy Nutter's sad death in 1992, Crombie has continued to release respectfully commemorative ‘Tommy Nutter’ branded products, derived from his original designs still in our archives.
Crombie opens it first stand-alone stores: in Edinburgh, followed by London and Manchester.
Crombie continued its unique tradition, one of the unrivalled heritage, unsurpassed quality and unequalled style.
Sales ledgers dating back to early 1900's
Extract from 'The Way We Wore'
'.. there in the window was the coat. Navy, heavy felt wool, fly-fronted, square shoulders, black velvet collar. '
I was nervous when I walked in. After twenty-four long years a tiny dream was about to be realised. I was enthralled when I walked out, wearing the coat of course.
Robert Elms, writer & broadcaster
"I wear my grandfather's old Crombie greatcoat that is so durable it was practically 'built' in 1938.
He wore it to the races, and even if the exterior was soaked, the silk lining and everything it protected stayed bone dry.
It looks immaculate still, a mark of extraordinary craftsmanship"
Henry Conway, journalist & author. The Guardian
Crombie remains an iconic British brand, trusted worldwide for the quality of its products and the timeless elegance of its designs.
Crombie continues to source only the finest raw materials to make its luxury products. To this day, the majority of fabrics used in our coats are milled in England and Scotland (otherwise in Italy). Likewise, 80% of our accessories are "Made in England", from five-fold silk ties hand rolled by English craftsmen, all the way up to handmade classic fur felt hats.