In central Manchester there's a corner building that houses an old and fabric factory. It hasn't been turned into loft apartments for footballers because it's still very much alive, producing Private White V.C. - a unique brand of everyday work wear based on the personal wardrobe of Private Jack White. Having fought in the First World War, White returned to Manchester and started work at said raincoat factory. Now, over sixty years since his death, the current owner of the factory and White's grand grandson have made the the war hero's customised wardrobe into a contemporary menswear brand. Dazed spoke to James Eden about the heritage of the brand and what sort heroics White got up to in order to get a Victoria Cross, Britain's highest award for gallantry.
Dazed Digital: This sounds like the perfect fusion army influences and casual everyday clothes, is that the brand's DNA?
James Eden: The brand’s DNA lies in the North West garment industry and for the best part of a decade our factory has prided itself in its quality hand crafted British garments that provide exceptional comfort and value to those that choose to wear them. Being garment makers, as opposed to fashion designers, we instinctively focus our attention and efforts on making the most comfortable and durable garments as possible.
DD: But is a man who was born in the 19th century, and his wardrobe, relevant today?
James Eden: Jack White dedicated his life to making comfortable and quality garments that would stand the test of time. He loved wearing English clothing and loved making them even more! His wardrobe was full of classic, timeless and traditional pieces that he and others could and would wear day in and day out. What could be more relevant than traditional and timeless garments that are fresh off the (hoffman) press having been designed, cut, sewn and finished in one of the UK’s most enduring and most experienced garment manufacturers?
DD: why did JW win a VC?
James Eden: White was 20 years old, and a private in the 6th Battalion, The King's Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment, British Army during the First World War when, on 7/8 March 1917 on the Dialah River, Mesopotamia, the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC. This citation was gazetted on 27 June 1917:
War Office, 27th June, 1917.
His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned Officer, Warrant Officer, Non-commissioned Officers and men:—
No. 18105 Pte. Jack White, R. Lanc. R.
For most conspicuous bravery and resource.
This signaller during an attempt to cross a river saw the two Pontoons ahead of him come under heavy machine-gun fire, with disastrous results.
When his own Pontoon had reached midstream, with every man except himself either dead or wounded, finding that he was unable to control the Pontoon, Pte. White promptly tied a telephone wire to the Pontoon, jumped overboard, and towed it to the shore, thereby saving an officer's life and bringing to land the rifles and equipment of the other men in the boat, who were either dead or dying.
DD: How crucial is the factory and its heritage to the brand?
James Eden: The factory and its heritage are everything to the brand. It is what makes us completely unique and sets us apart from 99.9% of other brands out there. Our customers love and trust the fact that to this day we are still manufacturing in the heart of central Manchester in the very same factory that Private White cut his first pattern all those years ago. Our longevity and history resonates with our customers who respect and appreciate our skills and our expertise. They trust us. They trust our patterns. They trust are choice of fabrics and ultimately they trust our garments
DD: What's your fave piece from the collection?
James Eden: The Squaddie in wax wool is close to my heart as we designed and the developed a completely innovative and unique fabric in our own mill. We wanted to celebrate the original and traditional method of waterproofing to create something indecently warm and trustworthy. The result is a fantastically durable, stylish AND waterproof woollen jacket made from the finest regional yarns.