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The Eton Shirt: A History

Last year quality Swedish clothing company, Eton, opened their first London flagship store in the heart of up-market Mayfair. The swanky looking store however, is a result of some very humble and remarkable beginnings. The company originated in 1928 when Annie Petterson from the small Swedish Hamlet of Ganghester, began sewing dresses in her kitchen. Unfortunately when the Great Depression hit, Annie’s husband David was forced to sell his sawmill business. In a lucky turn of events however, this move proved invaluable.

Together Annie and David created the Syfabriken Special (Swedish for ‘The Special Sewing Factory’), and with a bit of luck and innovative thinking, their business, (which later took on the name of ‘Eton’) began to flourish.

The term ‘special’ was used for a reason, Annie came up with the revolutionary idea of splitting production process into different parts. Rather than one seamstress crafting the whole shirt beginning to end, which up until now had been standard, Annie decided it would be more productive to give each seamstress a specialized role. This did indeed prove the case; simultaneously saving time and improving quality, as each seamstress became an expert in their role.

In 1934, the couple’s five children were each taught different parts of the production process and the business became a productive and profitable family affair. With the growth of the industrial age however, the small family business was threatening to become extinct. Luckily for this clever family, Annie’s son, Inge Davidson had inherited her head for business. In 1963 Inge Davidson invented the automated transport line. This not only helped the company produce quality clothing at super fast rates, thus ensuring their survival, it also revolutionized the whole clothing industry.

 Sadly David and Annie passed away in the latter half of the Twentieth century, closely followed by their son and CEO of t

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