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Our Story

Established in 1865, J. Dege & Sons (trading as Dege & Skinner) is one of two family-owned bespoke tailoring houses still remaining on London’s historic Savile Row.

HOW IT ALL STARTED

Jacob Dege was a successful German journeyman tailor, who came to England in 1855 to seek his fortune. Attempts to reform the German taxation system and impose censorship had driven many of its citizens away. And, a number of those who left Germany chose to pursue a new life in England.

Ten years later, Jacob established his own business at 13 Conduit Street, London, W.1.

Jacob had a large family, business flourished and his three boys all went to Merchant Taylors’ School in Charterhouse Square. The elder two entered the business, but there was no place for Arthur in his family firm. So the youngest son, a good school friend of William George Skinner (Bill), whose family were tailors in Jermyn Street, decided to start their own business and called it ‘Arthur Dege & Skinner’.

And so from 1900, Arthur Dege & Skinner was trading from Grafton Street in central London.

Tragedy & WAR

After a promising start, tragedy struck thrice. Arthur’s elder brothers both died unexpectedly and Bill was killed when riding a horse in Richmond Park in 1913. He left behind a penniless widow and two young sons to educate. Bill was just 42 years old when he died.

“Tim” (also William George) then aged 12 went to Ardingly College, where Jacob kindly paid for his education for two and a half years. Then in 1916, Jacob apprenticed Tim to J. Dege & Sons to learn his Trade. Little did he then know that he would serve the company faithfully through two World Wars until his retirement 54 years later.

Arthur Dege & Skinner closed at the start of The Great War and Arthur joined his father in J. Dege & Sons.

Anti-German feeling had been high in 1917 and after 52 years, Jacob relinquished the chairmanship and J. Dege & Sons Ltd became a private limited Company.

Family & expansion

Tim Skinner’s cutting skills continued a pace, along with his belief that his ability should enable his skilled coat, vest and trouser makers to earn proper wages and respect. He was highly regarded and launched his first trunk show to Cheltenham in 1928, before successfully expanding J. Dege & Sons to the North of England and Scotland. The latter continues to this day, including regular visits to the Royal Company of Archers in Edinburgh.

In 1939, J. Dege & Sons Ltd had bought Wilkinson & Son, Robe Makers by appointment to HM King George VI and two years later had the foresight to open outposts in the military garrisons of Aldershot and Catterick Camp. Military uniforms were vital for the firm’s survival.

In 1947, with the help of his wife’s stepfather and mother in law, the ever-industrious Tim Skinner acquired J. Dege & Sons Ltd.

By Royal Appointment

His son, the current chairman, Michael Skinner entered the business in 1953. What a year it was for Michael to start his bespoke tailoring career.

For HM The Queen’s Coronation in Westminster Abbey in June of that year, Michael, his father and Arthur’s son, John Dege, helped to dress the peers of the realm, including Sir Winston Churchill, upon whom Her Majesty had conferred the honour of Knight of the Garter.

Dege & Skinner is honoured to hold Royal Warrants of Appointment to HM Queen Elizabeth II, HM The Sultan of Oman and HM The King of Bahrain.

Pioneering tailors

In 1964, Michael embarked upon the firm’s first overseas trunk show to the USA in a pioneering move among the finest bespoke tailors of this country. From then onwards, regular trunk shows have taken place in the USA, Japan, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and across Europe.

In 1967, Dege bought Rogers, John Jones, famous military tailors to the Household Division and the Cavalry. This merger of specialist military tailors created a force to be reckoned with in the industry; something that continues to this day.

Making uniforms for a royal wedding has always been a historic moment for our family-owned, 156-year-old company.

Most recently we had the honour of making the uniform that HRH Prince Harry wore at his wedding to Meghan Markle.

He chose the uniform of the ‘Blues & Royals’.

For HRH Prince Harry’s frock coat alone it took military embroidery specialist and ‘QEST’ Scholar Sarah Wilkinson an entire week to hand-stitch the intricate sleeves.

So between HRH and the four replica pageboy uniforms, 150 meters of ‘Black Russia’ was used for approximately 65,000 hand-stitches. And that was just for the lacework alone!

‘QEST’, or The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, supports excellence in British craftsmanship through scholarship and apprenticeship funding.

Over the last 30 years QEST has awarded nearly £5million to 600 individuals working in 130 different disciplines.

Family Owned, Savile Row Based

In 2000, and in recognition of his family’s century-long contribution, Michael re-established the trading name of ‘Dege & Skinner’.

And in 2015, the company celebrated its 150th anniversary under the leadership of Michael’s son, William. A special commemorative 150th Anniversary Tie, with it’s distinctive harlequin design, is available to buy exclusively from Dege & Skinner.

William Skinner is the fifth generation of his family to join the company and has been Managing Director since 2001. He aims to enhance Dege & Skinner’s exemplary record of quality and service, and its apprenticeship scheme, while building on the work of previous generations to face the  challenges of the future with optimism.

William is also a past Appeal Chairman of the Master Tailors’ Benevolent Association. And until the end of 2020, he was Chairman of the Savile Row Bespoke Association. He is a Council Member of the Bespoke Tailors’ Benevolent Association and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors.

Savile Row itself continues to flourish, despite the recent difficulties caused by the global pandemic. The ‘Row’, as it’s sometimes known is home to more than a dozen bespoke tailoring businesses. Between them, those businesses currently employ and train over 200 working craftspeople. This makes Savile Row and its tailors a unique community in very heart of London’s West End.