Mallalieus of Delph was formed in 1863 as a producer of Pure New Wool fabrics. Based entirely in the Yorkshire town of Delph, the company has never left the quaint English countryside as the mills have grown.
The company has been passed down through five generations of the Mallalieu family, dating back to 1863, and still remains very much a family-owned business. Mallalieus of Delph is also, first and foremost, a British company producing all of their products at the mill’s home in Delph, a small village on the Yorkshire/Lancashire border within the Pennines. Moving to a larger location within the village, the mills were able to increase production to meet their increasing demand.
Mallalieus of Delph remains one of Britain’s last vertical mills. Every process is carried out at one location.
Mallalieus of Delph is a proud member of the British Wool Marketing Board, who work to promote the use of natural wool fibre internationally. However, even though the mills take pride in sourcing as much of their wool as possible in Britain, for finer wool the climate must be far warmer than that of the United Kingdom, and for these wools the company sources from farther afield from countries like South Africa and New Zealand. Managing Director, Clive, goes into detail about the wool’s origins. “We only work with high-quality wools whichever country they are sourced from,” he explains. “There is a change in hand-feel from different climates, British wool generally being coarser than wools from South Africa or New Zealand.”
The coarser wools are the perfect texture for use in heavyweight fabrics such as those used in fieldsports or gamekeeping – where the weight would be required for the protective qualities in the garment, “although we are finding more and more that these British Wools are also now being used in lighter weights to bring the country fashion market to the wider market.”
Clive states that the lifespan of good tweed is dependent on its use. Light wool, which is designed for fashion and everyday wear, should have a good few years shelf life in it. However, the heavyweight versions such as gamekeeper’s tweeds are designed and crafted to be a heavy and hardwearing with thorn-proof properties that should last a lifetime and beyond.
The company is known within the wool manufacturing industry for their Elysian Duffle Coat. The Elysian fabric used to create the garment is exclusive to the mill and bears a number of unique qualities. The coat has been imitated many times over the years but none can match the high-quality finish crafted by Mallalieus of Delph due to their high standards of production and the knowledge and expertise of their staff.
In what once was an entirely handmade industry, the mills, like many others, have taken advantage of technological advances to create the majority of their designs by machine. This allows the company to keep progressing and helps cut down on mistakes created by human error. Mallalieus of Delph believes in continually reinvesting in the business through technological improvements and, above all, people. These qualities are evident in their focus on their apprenticeship scheme for school leavers, the renewal of half of their looms and a new warping machine that was recently brought in to meet the demand for fabric. The in-house team has also expanded to include home furnishing designs in the business.
Many feel that handmade garments produce a superior quality, but Clive reassure us that in terms of bulk fabric production, these assumptions are inaccurate. The fabrics are checked over regularly, and any mistakes are rectified then and there. The individuals running the machines are highly trained in their roles.
Mallalieus of Delph remains one of Britain’s last vertical mills, with every process being carried out at one location. The company has a small workforce, with around 40 members of staff on the fabric production side and a similar amount on the yarn spinning side. The team includes a number of long-serving members of staff which, Managing Director Clive feels, retains the knowledge involved in creating the fabric. “The problem comes at retirement when all the staff full of knowledge start to leave,” Clive jokes. The mills currently run their own apprenticeship programme in-house. The programme aims to train those of school leaving age and give them the necessary skills for working in the industry. These skills allow the mills to continue to produce high-quality garments and ensure that there are skilled members of staff coming into the business over time.
Paramount to the success of the business is their variety of weaves and designs. The in-house design team works endlessly, carrying out market research into colour and design trends to ensure the fabrics being designed are as current as possible. The mills are also available to work on bespoke materials at the request of clients, in which fabric can be tweaked in colour, hand sewn to introduce something specific and even designed from scratch – a feat which Clive boasts can be completed within two weeks depending on the urgency of the brief. As Managing Director, Clive enjoys the bespoke aspect of the company. “When you see a design brief come to fruition, that makes it all worthwhile,” he states warmly.
Looking forward, Clive hopes to move into the home furnishings market to a greater extent as well as continuing to grow the apparel and accessories division, bringing the traditional materials to homes. This move to the future shows that despite the age of the mills, those looking after the business are always moving forward with no thought of slowing down.
This eye-catching plaid suit has been crafted from pure new wool materials – crafted exclusively for The House of Bruar from Mallalieus of Delph. The perfect look when worn all together or statement pieces when worn alone, ideal for bringing a touch of Scottish charm to his wardrobe this year.