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Slenderella

  • The Slenderella Story

    The name ‘Brettles’ is well-known nationwide for socks, stockings, knitted goods and textiles but nowhere more than in its home town of Belper in the Derwent Valley of Derbyshire, where the business has grown and matured for over 200 years. From tiny beginnings in the early nineteenth century, it survived more than its fair share of difficulties to become a major employer and manufacturer. From Belper, its products went far and wide. The Brettles brand is still very much in evidence in Belper and many employees past and present can trace family connections and roles with the company back over several generations.

    Brettles

    The Slenderella Story:

    From humble home-spun beginnings in the East End of London in the 1920’s, Slenderella went on to acquire its own factory which was unfortunately destroyed by bombs in 1942 resulting in a move to Middlesex.  Two years later, as the demands of the 2nd World War increased, the factory was requisitioned by the Ministry of Aircraft Production.  The decision was then made to move to a larger production unit in South Shields, from where Slenderella became a recognised national brand.

    Slenderella

    As with Brettles, there are fascinating connections to the Royal Family and other renowned celebrities.  Hollywood legends Elizabeth Taylor and Hedy Lamarr were known to have worn Slenderella’s products. Slenderella were delighted when Miss Taylor and the cast of the acclaimed film Little Women publicised their garments.  Further international acclaim followed when the company helped create the wardrobe for Miss Lamarr’s screen classic Samson and Delilah.

    In 1997 the Slenderella brand became available for acquisition and this was acquired and incorporated in November of the same year as Slenderella Wholesale Ltd.  The first wholesale premises were a small room at the ear of the Belper retail shop on Chapel Street.

    Vedonis

    The first retail customer to place an order from the new firm was Edna Dale of Leek, and the first multiple order was placed by the Beatties group of Wolverhampton.   In the first year of trading the company received the Lingerie Buyer magazine award for the UK’s best classic nightwear collection, sponsored by Dupont.  For the next two years the brand achieved the runners-up trophy but again won the coveted crystal pyramid in 2001.  The company has also received industry and Chamber of Commerce awards.

    Due to the rapid growth of the company, Slenderella moved from Chapel Street to the old Co-Op bulding on King Street, Belper, allowing for warehouse space for 12,000 items of stock.  However, a further move was made to the former premises of another historic Belper business, Flanders Ltd.  Unfortunately the move meant the closure of the retail shop for a time, leaving many long standing customers disappointed.

    The company at first just leased and occupied the warehouse building in Queen Street creating some office space.  However the whole of the site was later purchased allowing for much needed further expansion.  By 2003 Slenderella was supplying over 700 customers in the UK.

    Walker Reid

    2003 was the recognised 200 year anniversary of the establishment of Brettles in Belper and a major celebration was held.  Over 300 friends, guests and former employees attended the event   with many historic artefacts and historic memorabilia being displayed at various venues in town.  Local girl Frankie Corbett won the “Miss Slenderella” competition and a booklet containing the condensed history of Brettles was created for the event.

    The warehouse, along with adjacent office block was finally purchased I 2007.  Staff and contractors joined together to get the building into shape as renovations and redecoration were needed. The next big step was in May 2008 when, by popular demand, the new Brettles Retail Shop was opened in Days Lane.

    To this day, Brettles product groups are still growing.  Export growth is continuing.  The quality and value offered will ensure that the Slenderella and Brettles brands trade successfully into the 21st century.

    Carr & Westley have sold Brettles products since the 1960s and have a growing range of Slenderella products. We are now also experiencing a new demand for Slenderella bed jackets and nightwear on the internet, taking the brand into the future.

  • What's The Key To Slenderella's Success

    Slenderella Logo

    To celebrate the launch of our Slenderella catalogue page, we thought we would give you a little insight into the company that has become a C&W customer favourite.  

    The Slenderella Story

    Towards the end of the last Century, the once booming textile industry of Middle England experienced decline. One region hit particularly hard was Derbyshire, which at the time was home to popular garment brands like Courtaulds, Blounts, Jaeger, Flanders and the Ewe Hosiery Company.

    During this time, another successful hoisery company from Belper, Derbyshire, was also in difficulty until one of it's employees stepped in to save the firm and other brand names.  Previously a salesman at Brettles, Gary Spendlove took over the company and acquired the brand name, Slenderella.

    Slenderella prides itself on the fact that it is a local business with principles. Slenderella is a local business with a global reach, supplying over 750 retailers in the British Isles but also supplying to retailers all-round the world.

    For me however, the key is that they employ local principles. Gary has said that his not so well kept secret is that they “combine high quality with value for money”, along with “running a tight ship where everyone on board knows which way to sail.’’

    Gary Spendlove is a typically unassuming, hard-working family man who knows his routes. Therefore when the name Brettle’s faded into the marketplace, Gary bought back the name and now it can be seen as a sub-brand under the Slenderella name, ‘‘I returned Brettles to where it always belonged,’’ says Gary.

    Gary is adamant that the Slenderella brand, although doing extremely well and looking set to expand, is not just a money making machine. “I’m proud to be Belper born and bred and I cherish the history of this place. I’m just delighted that the hosiery and textile trade lives on in Belper, proud that I’ve brought Brettles back home, and satisfied that I’m not only giving employment to local people but, in effect, keeping a great many people in work worldwide.”

    At Carr & Westley we share the same principles as Slenderella and are proud to offer their extensive range.

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