Progressive heritage, designed for today.
At Wolsey we make garments with intent. We select the finest quality materials and design consciously with our modern Wolsey man’s busy life in mind.
Our brand comes with hundreds of years of experience, earning us the quiet confidence that we pass on to you in each and every garment. Whether you are dressing for city life or the great outdoors – masculinity, identity and style is woven into every piece, to give you the effortless confidence of being the man you want to be.
Welcome to Wolsey; dressing the modern man since 1755.
Dressing men since...
Established in 1755 by Henry and Ann Wood at the beginning of the ‘cottage industry’, Wolsey was built on the foundation of selecting the finest quality materials and designing consciously with the modern man’s busy life in mind.
Like most businesses at the time, Henry and Ann were manufacturing from home. The invention of the stocking knitting frame in 1589 improved production for the Woods, allowing the opportunity for more people to experience their product. Sadly on the 15th June 1768, at the age of 61 Henry Wood died, leaving everything to his widow.
Valiantly, Ann decided to continue trading as Ann Wood & Sons with her youngest son, Thomas joining the business in 1780. Ann passed in 1813, at the age of 87, leaving a legacy of knowledge, craftsmanship and quality that meant the business continued to thrive under the management of her sons, and eventually her grandsons.
In the early 19th century, the majority of production was being sold to the Scottish market due to a relationship with George Walker, a wool merchant and hosier of Glasgow.
In 1825, Robert Walker, son of George Walker, arrived in Leicester. Ambitious and talented, Robert had valuable experience of the Scottish hosiery trade and in 1840 Ann Wood & Sons had the foresight to employ him.
Robert’s intelligent blending of two traditional knitwear industries modernised the company, and in 1842 he was appointed a partner. In keeping with his Glaswegian heritage, Robert adopted the Scottish Thistle as the company's trademark in the early 1850’s. In 1859 he made his most notable influence by breaking away from the cottage industry and initiating steam powered factories.
By 1864 manufacturing had been extended to include an extensive range of under and outer garments. And by 1883 Ann Wood & Sons had become the largest hosiery manufacturer in the Leicester region. The collection even achieved the highest award at the Chicago Great World Fair. Ann Wood & Sons was at the forefront of technology, revolutionising the industry with ‘Unshrinkable Woollens’.
To mark the achievement, this innovative brand was to be crowned with a new name. And on 12th October 1897 the “WOLSEY” trademark was registered, inspired by a powerful ecclesiastic statesman, who was buried in Leicester.
The early years of the twentieth century really shaped the Wolsey brand. In 1910 a new factory covering 2.5 acres was built at Abbey Meadows in Leicester, which became the company’s new headquarters.
Endorsement of the brand came from none other than Captain Scott and Roald Amundsen and their teams – with all choosing Wolsey underwear for their race to reach the south pole in 1911 pushed publicity to an all-time high. And in 1919, Wolsey underwear was also supplied for Sir Ernest Shackleton's Murmansk expedition, bolstering the brand even further.
It was the quality and reliability of Wolsey products that proved to be a vital attribute, including during the years of the Great War, 1914-1918, when 75% of production from the company's seven factories was given over to the Government. During this time, Wolsey supplied over 18 million pieces of underwear, jerseys and scarves to the British and allied troops.
In 1919 the company took the innovative step and ceased trade through wholesale merchants and began to supply direct to the retailer. Later becoming a public company under the title of Wolsey Ltd in 1920. In 1927 the Wolsey board of directors welcomed the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) on his first visit to the company, presenting him with a cashmere scarf and a hunting pullover.
In the 1920s outdoor activities such as golf, tennis and swimming became extremely popular. Golf in particular was incredibly societal. Recognising this boom Wolsey created a line of golf hoses and socks and marketed the collection under the name ‘Sportsman’. It was so well received that it was later extended to include a full outdoor leisure range.
In 1935 Wolsey was appointed to hold a Royal Warrant as Hosiery Manufacturers to his Majesty King George V. The honour of holding a Royal Warrant and supplying goods to Royal households has been held from 1935 through the reigns of consecutive monarchs to the present day.
In addition to our first Royal Warrant in 1935, Wolsey has been privileged to receive a Royal Warrant from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, and were honoured again in 1959 by receiving another Royal Warrant from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother.
Continuing it’s success, in the 70s Wolsey was the name for many sporting organisations and teams, as well as individual sportsmen and women. Tony Jacklin the winner of The Open Championship and the US Open being perhaps the most famous.
Following this, Wolsey continued to be a popular choice for golf wear particularly in Asia, Australia and Canada.
In 1974 Wolsey introduced the ‘Fox’ motif to golf wear. As a response to high demand both in the UK and overseas, the brand focused on its menswear collection. The following years saw a growth in the brand’s golf wear range across the Far East, particularly in China.
Demonstrating it’s continued focus on quality and craftmanship, Wolsey became the first company in the UK to receive the British Standard (BS) 5750 in 1985 for quality systems in sock manufacturing.
Wolsey has continued to evolve whilst maintaining the brand ethos, standard and quality.
In 2004, the brand introduced an update to the famous fox logo, which has been proudly worn over the world.
Whilst wearing the fox in 2018, Eddie Pepperell maintained the fine tradition of great sports people achieving success whilst wearing the Wolsey brand, as he won the British Masters.
In addition to Eddie Pepperell, amongst the professional golfers to have worn the famous fox whilst competing at tournaments around the world include Chris Hanson, Robert Rock and Toby Tree.
Wolsey reached the milestone of it’s 265th birthday in 2020. A remarkable achievement for a brand that remains true to it’s founders principles.