Dents, a history of luxury in their hands.
Dents, a British glove manufacturer founded in the eighteenth century, employs a total of 70 people and sells its gloves and accessories in 27 countries.
There was a time when you rarely saw a lady or a gentleman in public without a pair of gloves on. Gloves were an essential accompaniment to any outfit, and were considered an object of “luxury, elegance and refinement” according to a nineteenth century fashion manual. Dents is the most prestigious of glove manufacturers in the world since the eighteenth century.
This unique British brand was founded in 1777 by John Dents, master maker of gloves in a small wooden house in Worcester and in the following two centuries, the business flourished. The company opened sales offices and warehouses in New York, Montreal and Sydney and built factories throughout Europe.
Queen Victoria commissioned her gloves from Dents, like King George VI did in 1937 for his coronation, as did Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 for hers. Today the company has expanded its range of accessories and manufactures handbags and scarves, which it supplies to the renowned Downton Abbey series and Mr Selfridge, amongst others. Dents also designed gloves for Daniel Craig in the epic James Bond film Skyfall and for Jack Nicholson in Batman.
The company moved to Warminster in the early 30’s and was in the hands of the Dents family until the 60’s, when the Yentob family acquired it. Its current president is Robert Yentob.
Dents has always chosen to avoid mechanization and mass production methods adopted by other manufacturers, with the exception of the use of electricity to power the sewing machines. Dents is among the few glove manufacturers that have survived in the UK; at the time of booming industry, Worcester housed about 150 manufacturers during the nineteenth century, with over 30,000 employees working at the factories.
Deborah Moore, Executive Director of Dents and based in Warminster, says “Japan is our largest export market, followed by the United States, where sales have skyrocketed due to the recent cold waves. But we are also receiving increasing attention in China.” More than 30% of Dents sales come from abroad, while in the UK its products are sold in department stores such as House of Fraser, Harrods and Selfridges, as well as many independent retailers.
Dents employs a total of 70 people at its factory in Warminster and sells gloves and accessories in 27 countries. This year the company launched a new website in Chinese to attract more customers. Its turnover amounted to 14 million pounds and Internet sales increased by almost 30% last year. “Each glove is cut individually, and a lot of our workers have been gloving their entire lives,” says Moore. Many employees have been with the company for decades, with some having over 50 years experience at the company.
The leather is still selected, stretched, cut and sewn by hand, in a very similar process to the one used for centuries. Dents uses four types of leather, sheepskin and deer from North America, North African sheepskin and peccary, a luxurious South American leather. It takes an average of up to six hours to make a pair of peccary leather gloves, going through 32 different manufacturing processes.
The Dents headquarters in Warminster house a museum documenting the history of the glove from the Stone Age onwards, featuring gloves that belonged to Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh and Queen Victoria.
It takes between five and seven years to form a glove cutter and it is feared that this delicate skill may get lost among the young. Moore ensures that “Glove manufacturers have to think differently, we have to try to follow fashion trends and ensure we have a strong Internet presence.”