In the textile industry, you have to adapt and change to survive. Sunny Bank Mills was no exception. Although the Mills main cloth production was fine worsted suiting in the 1970s there was a need to look elsewhere for other markets.
In the early 1970s, Edwin Woodhouse & Co Ltd were one of the first to offer fine merino wool almost as light as mid-weight cotton but with all the warmth of wool. It was a revelation. Coupled with this Sunny Bank Mills could offer a myriad of plain colours and subtle ‘shadow designs’ so you could add an element of fashion to a winter wardrobe. This innovation helped to find new markets in the Middle East.
During the summer the Arabs would wear a very fine white cotton garment called a thobe. In winter they would wear heavier white cotton with brushed cotton garments underneath. Over the top, they would wear heavy brown cloth made from the local coarse wool.
The Woodhouse colours and the brand became famous in the Middle East. Number 1449 Regal Blue was a particular favourite worn by the Sheiks of the Saudia Royal family.
If you walk through a cloth souq today you may still see the green light boxes hanging from the luxury shop doorways declaring Woodhouses ‘Finest English cloth’
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