The Amco Clothing Company had its origins in Sydney in 1948 manufacturing butchers aprons and painters drop sheets! It became a well known brand of jeans and other casual wear before going into liquidation in 1980. It had morphed into the Amco International Clothing Company by the next year. The brand is now owned by Jagger Australia Pty. Ltd. and manufactures in China.
Australian Knitting Mills Limited, Richmond
In 1899 Thomas Murry &Co established a small knitting mill in Richmond. The mill expanded several times to keep up with increased production. In 1908 they began to produce Golden Fleece brand woollen underwear. These were made from 100% Merino Fleece. In 1910 the company changed its name to the Australian Knitting Mills. The Kookaburra brand (underwear made of wool/cotton mix) was established were established by 1917. If you glance out the window of your train at Richmond station you can see the old mill building.
Barcol Knitting Mill, Prahran
Barcol operated in Chapel Street, Prahran from about 1924 until 1931. It was listed on the stock exchange in 1926 as Barcol Manufacturing Company Pty. Ltd.
Billabong, a surfwear and accessories retailer, started on the Goldcoast in 1973 when Gordon Merchant started making board shorts from home. The company started to export in the late 1990s and to acquire other products and brands in the following decade.
Over-expansion had lead to unsustainable debt. Profits crashed. Stores were closed and brands sold off. Takeover bids were offered and contested. In 2018 it was acquired by Boardrider Inc., owners of rival Quicksilver.
This is a ladies’ fashion brand founded by Donna and Danny Guest in Melbourne in 1999. It had 107 stores across Australia and New Zealand in 2019.
Bond’s Industries Limited, Sydney
Around 1907 an American by the name of George Alan Bond came to Australia. From 1915 he started patenting and trademarking article of clothing. The firm of George A. Bond and Company was the start of what became Bonds Industries Limited. From 1932 to 1938 they advertised ‘Silver Ram’ pure woollen underwear.
This brand of sewing/fashion patterns was founded in 1870. It was from 2001 a brand of the McCall Pattern Company, but is now (along with Simplicity, McCall’s, Vogue) now owned by UK based ‘Design Group’.
Over many years several tailors and manufacturers have used this slogan and/or brand name. The original “Can’t Tear ‘Em” tailors were Messers. Turnball and W. Shortal of Albury.
In Townsville, Carse’s were selling “Miners Moles, Can’t Tear ‘Em” in 1903-4. From 1917 onwards ‘Can’t Tear ‘Em’ work trousers were being sold in Queensland. These may have been made by Josephson & Sons in Brisbane. Certainly they were using this slogan from around 1931. (Messrs. Sargood & Gardiner of Sydney took them to court for copyright infringement in 1935, claiming their branding using a bulldog was being copied, but lost the case, as their bulldog was associated with a ‘Top Dog’ trademark slogan, and was considered substantially different.) The ‘Can’t-Tear-‘Em’ work clothes were being sold Australia wide from around 1949.
The company continues today as CTE P/L who “manufacture and design of combat uniform and specialised protective clothing, industrial workwear, high visibility and flame retardant, wet weather, structural and bushfire assemblies.”
Casben Productions Ltd., Sydney
Commonwealth Clothing Factory Miles Street, Southbank, Melbourne
According to the Victorian Heritage data base:
The pictures below, from the State Library of Victoria, date c.1940.
As early as 1895, Richard Stanley Cumpston (1869-1940) was working as an engraver in Melbourne. By 1895 he had moved to Perth. In 1910 the first advertisement for Cumpston’s Engraving Works appeared. ( (Also from 1902 known he ran the the City Electric Engraving Works). They engraved brassplates, stamps, made stencils and badges, etc. The firm was finally delisted in 1992. They had held many government contracts.
Dunlop Weatherproofs Australia Pty. Ltd., Wagga Wagga
In 1944 the Dunlop Rubber Co. Ltd took over a munitions factory in Wagga Wagga and registered a garment division of the company to make uniforms for the military. After the war they continued as the largest single employer in the region, only closing in 1977.
Fletcher Jones, Warrnambool
David Fletcher Jones, clothing manufacturer and retailer, was born in Bendigo in 1895. He purchased a tailoring and menswear business in Warrnambool in 1924. He moved his business into making quality fitted trousers, including for the army. In 1948 a new factory was constructed on the site of a former rubbish dump, with extensive gardens that became, and remain, a tourist attraction. In the late 1940s he changed the business into a co-operative with his employees, renaming it Fletcher Jones and Staff Pty. Ltd. In the mid 1950s they extended into women’s clothes. Mr Jones died in 1977. The business was sold in 1998. Many of the stores, including the Warrnambool factory, were sold 2011.
Goode, Durrant and Murray Ltd.
In 1882 a firm by the name of ‘Goode, Durrant, Tite and Co’ was started in Adelaide as a softgoods importer, becoming ‘Goode, Durrant & Co’ in 1894 when William Henry Tite retired. In 1887 an office was opened in Perth. From around 1899 a factory for manufacturing menswear under the ‘Federal Clothing’ brand started, extending to ladies wear and footwear. To improve profitability, the company merged in 1934 with the South Australian, West Australian and Broken Hill branches of the firm of D. & W. Murray Ltd to form Goode, Durrant and Murray Ltd. The overlapping letters G, D and M of the company’s name can be seen near the top of the card.
(David Murray and his brother William ran a retail, then later wholesale drapery store ‘D. & W. Murray’ in Kind William Street, Adelaide from 1852, and later expanded around Australia.)
The trademark ‘Goodura’ ( a contraction from Goode and Durrant, but also referring to ‘good and durable’) was registered in 1921. It initially was used for the company’s carpets, floor cloths and oilcloths, but would be used for other materials, hats, coats, trousers, shirts, suits, boots and pyjamas.
Hard Yakka is known for its work-wear, boots and accessories. It was started by David Kersall Laidlaw (1902-1979), his wife and 5 others making work overalls in his parent’s Brunswick home in 1922. He took the name Yakka in 1936 and registered the firm as D.K. Laidlaw & Sons P/L in 1947. As the company grew it opened plants first in Weston Street, Brunswick and then larger premises in Lygon Street. During WW2 it had large contracts for the government, including the RAAF. New factories followed in Sunbury and in Ballarat Street, Brunswick. In 1960 it moved to Broadmeadows, with factories set up at Wangarrata, Wodonga, Albury and Darlinghust.
The name was changed to Yakka P/L in the 1990s. It was acquired by Pacific Brands in 2007 then by Wesfarmers as part of the Workwear Group in 2014.
Barnet Glass (1849-1918) came to Melbourne around 1876 having learnt the trade of manufacturing waterproofing clothing in Manchester, England. His company, the ‘Pioneer Rubber Company’ manufactured ‘Hercules’ brand waterproof clothing from 1893 until 1905 when the company was bought out by Dunlop Rubber Company. (Barnett would start another company to import and manufacture car tyres, which was later also bought by Dunlop).
Lincoln Mills, Coburg
Since around 1801, when convicts started making woollen blankets in Parramatta, mills have been a part of Australia’s industrial landscape. Lincoln Mills were built in Coburg in 1909.
Paramatta Woollen Mills Ltd., Sydney
In August 1803 Governor King appointed a Scottish convict weaver to run a weaving establishment. This was the beginning of an organised woollen industry in Australia, although female convicts had been spinning and weaving before this, sheep having been brought out with the first fleet in 1788. From 1804 female prisoners at the ‘Female Factory’ were set to work weaving woollen cloth, sewing clothes and washing laundry.
In 1869 John French started producing tweed fabric at Darling Mills,originally a flour mill. His son Alfred produced tweed at the Cumberland Woollen Mill, also originally a flour mill, from 1870.
In 1887 brothers William and J. H. Murray bought Darling Mill and renamed it the Paramatta Woollen Mill. They later bought the Cumberland Mill.
The business prospered. By 1900 they won a gold medal for uniforms they had made. They provided uniforms for troops serving in the Boer war, for water police and for hospital attendants. In 1911 they were taken over by the Sydney Woollen Mills which had been established in 1870. In 1975 the piece goods division was sold off, with the company in liquidation by 1984.
Starting in 1948 from their Little Bourke Street barbershop siblings Olga, Herbert Peter and David Jackson started to sell neckties, extending into tailored menswear by 1953. In 1976 the company failed, with Peter moving to Queensland and painting houses. This siblings revived the business with David’s son Paul Jackson as the new managing director, and in 1993 Peter returned to the company. The company is still in family hands (Paul and sons David and Nicholas) with more than 60 stores Australia wide. The advertisement below is from The Argus, 14th January 1957.
Q’land Woollen Coy.
The Queensland Woollen Company was proposed in 1874, and its mill built in Ipswich near the Bremer River in 1875. The location near the river for shipping, and also a nearby railway made the location a successful one. It was the first woollen mill built in Queensland, saving local producers the cost of shipping their wool to Sydney or Melbourne. Initially producing only unfinished cloth, it expanded into clothing. It would in time produce blankets and uniforms during both World Wars. (The large number of female employees meant that production did not suffer as it did for many work forces during the wars.)
S.A.W. Co Adelaide (also S.A.Wn. Co. Adelaide)
In 1883 the South Australia Woollen Company was formed with 30 employees on the site of a previous tweed factory in Lobethal. The company began supplying military, customs and railway uniforms from 1891. They produced supplies for troops for the Boer and both World Wars. Their brand of woollens, “Onkaparinga”, became so well known that the company was renamed Onkaparinga Woollen Company Limited in 1928. The mill ceased production in 1991.
This is a brand of casual fashion shorts established in 1972 by Edward Fletcher & Co. They are so well known in Australia that they are virtually slang for shorts. The company is currently a subsidiary of Hard Yakka, owned by Wesfarmers.
Toorallie is a merino wool clothing firm established in 1990.
Vogue Pattern Company
In 1899 the Vogue Patterns service was started by Vogue Magazines. This was bought out in 1914, renamed as the Vogue Pattern Company, with Vogue patterns sold by department stores from 1916. This was sold to Butterick in 1961, who also licensed the Vogue name.