Discover Pittards » History
The Early Days
In 1826 Charles Pittard first started operating as a leather dresser in Yeovil, Somerset, an area that has become synonymous with leather and gloving. In the early years of glove making, sewing evenly and consistently was a problem until the invention of a piece of equipment called a 'Gloving Donkey' in 1807 by local man James Winter of Stoke Sub Hamdon. It's widely accepted that Pittards would have supplied the local glove making community and probably those further afield.
It was at the beginning of the 20th century that the company first started to experiment with different skins and hides and began importing the Cabretta or 'Hairsheep' skins to make its famous soft and subtle leather and in the 1920's began trading with Africa.
This type of skin was put to good use when, just before the outbreak of the 2nd world war, Pittards started to produce the now renowned 'Pilots' leather for gloves for the RAF and as a result became a protected industry during the war years.
The innovations for which Pittards are so well known, began in the 1950's with the invention of the first guaranteed 'Washable' dress leather. Since then they have gone on to produce many enhanced leathers including flame retardant and water resistant products.
It was much later in the 1980's, with the development of the water resistant WR100 leather, that the collaborations with sportswear labels began. The technology could be incorporated into sport-specific products providing water and stain resistance, breathability, durability and stay-soft feel. Pittards formed a working relationship with Titleist/Foot-Joy and created Sta-Sof, the world's best selling golf glove. Since then the Pittards brand has become synonymous with high quality and high performance.
Development of the Group
The turn of the 1990's saw further developments to the hairsheep leather with Futura II being engineered as the world's first stain-resistant glove and clothing leather, impervious to everyday stains such as coffee, dirt, food and cosmetics. Soon after, Pittards provided Verglas and Maquillage leather to its manufacturing partners in the footwear industry, offering products that boast classical elegance, softness, high performance and resistance to stains.
In 1992, Pittards engaged Gary Lineker, England's most successful soccer goal scorer, as spokesperson.
The company continued to be a leader in the industry through the mid nineties, securing their role as the first leather manufacturer to produce performance leather linings. Shortly after, Puma joined Pittards in producing the first specially designed leather for cleated sports footwear, and a year later we created the "breathing foot" - a revolutionary device made to simulate a foot's condition in a leather shoe.
Ever striving to develop new ideas and create revolutionary products, 1996 saw Pittards announce a $5 million investment in R&D and dyeing in order to improve their technological resources.
In 1997 The Export Times awarded Pittards with "Outstanding Exporter of the Year" Award.
The late nineties gave rise to extensive sporting exposure with 33% of all players in the World Cup wearing Puma soccer cleats made from our leather and Mark McGuire snatching Baseball's home run record wearing Franklin batting gloves crafted from Pittards leather. In addition to this, Mark O'Meara completed a hat-trick of major golf victories wearing Pittards leather in his golf footwear.
The sporting sector continued to be of great significance in 1999 with Titleist Foot-Joy unveiling their new Sta-Sof advertising campaign featuring Pittards leather and our own advertising campaign involving key brand partners such as Franklin being launched in various sports magazines in the US. The company was recognized in the equestrian sector as Ian Starks won the 1999 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials using Pittards leather for his saddle, helmets and gloves.
Pittards continues to thrive in the 21st century with the aquisition of renowned leather goods makers Daines and Hathaway in 2008, Daines and Hathaway have been making fine leather goods in Walsall since 1922. Among their celebrated pieces is the iconic military wet pack, first issued to the British forces in the early 20th century. They use British leather, a large percentage of which comes from Pittards, and design and create modern pieces such as the iPad case to compliment the existing, extensive range.
In 2011 Pittards embarked on its first collection of leather garments designed in-house. The range consists of a classic collection, embracing the style and look of quality leather jackets and a trend collection more in line with high street fashion.