Historic ties back as shop takes silk again
THE historic connection between the towns silk mills and high streets shops has been revived thanks to a new partnership.
RA Smart, a silk weavers and printers based in Bollington, has teamed-up with John Douglas menswear store in the Grosvenor Centre, Chestergate, to create and sell silk ties and scarves.
Silk production in Macclesfield dates back to the 1600s but it is the first time in many decades that a high street store has sold silk exclusively designed and woven in the town.
John Douglas, based in the Grosvenor Centre, teamed up with Smart’s for new heritage range of hand-finished silk ties, based on vintage patterns, along with handkerchiefs and scarves.
David Johnson, who owns John Douglas with his brother Richard, said: “The history of Macclesfield was built on silk and over the years I have watched the demise of the availability of Macclesfield products.
“There is a huge resurgence at the moment in the strong heritage English brands, people are acknowledging and appreciating their history more than ever.
“It’s that great old story of what goes around, comes around, but each time with a bit of a different twist on it.
“That’s what I’ve done here to the ties. We’ve taken the classic Macclesfield designs but made them a bit more current and freshened them up.”
R A Smart, based at Clough Bank in Bollington, is just one of two silk mills still in operation in Macclesfield borough, supplying silk and finished silk products to Japan, USA, Korea and all over Europe.
Founder Ron Smart said: “(The new range) are based on traditional prints that we found in our archives and some from Macclesfield Museum so they are made with Macclesfield silk, to Macclesfield designs, in Macclesfield and that is important as this is the silk town.
“David has added his own details – such as bright tippings and other details - that bring them bang up to date.”
Ed Kennedy, Grosvenor Shopping Centre manager, added: “Being able to buy locally made silk ties and menswear accessories here at the Grosvenor Centre in John Douglas - which is a landmark building in the town - means visitors will be able to take a their own piece of Macclesfield history home with them.
“David and Ron are to be congratulated on their business skills in spotting this gap in the market.”
●● David Johnson of menswear store John Douglas with Ron Smart, whose company is making silk ties from Macclesfield silk