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Double TWO Shirts

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The History of Double TWO


Founded in 1940, the story of Double Two started in a small room of a building on Kirkgate
in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. Isaac Donner and Frank Myers started a business to make and sell men’s shirts. However during the war cotton was unavailable, so he decided to make viscose shirt blouses for Britain’s women who were replacing men in factories and farms.

In 1946, when the war was over and the men returned to working in Britain a big market developed in men’s shirts, which was the original speciality of Mr Donner and Mr Myers. They decided to bring into play a patent, which Mr Donner’s family had developed prior to the war, for making and attaching a soft but smart collar to shirts in such a way it could be easily removed by pulling a tab sewn into the collar-attaching seam, and the free spare collar supplied with the shirt could easily be sewn in to the resulting groove. This gave men soft comfortable shirts which outlasted the first collar. As the shirt had two collars, and even at one time two pairs of cuffs, it was called Double TWO.

In the early 1950s, Double Two made the first man-made fibre shirts which were made from Terylene and the first blended wool shirts with non-shrink and non-pill properties.

In 1963 Isaac Donner’s son, Richard, joined the business, and in 1965 Double TWO launched a new product called White Light. It was a cotton shirt, with a percentage of polyester blended into the fabric for the collars and cuffs to give them extra strength.A special national television advertising campaign was prepared for White Light and in six months the product became brand leader.

In 1968 Double TWO and William Sugden and Sons joined the Group adding more shirt capacity and new division for work wear and jeans. In the 1990’s the Group started ‘ThreadNeedle Company Image Ltd’ to bring the first managed system to the Corporate Clothing Industry. The Company gradually built up an export business to over 40 countries and recently their shirts and blouses grew rapidly in Europe. Wakefield now produce over four and half million garments a year and in 2012 exported over three million.

The company has worked hard to ensure its mission statement “Delivering the best in clothing and customer care” is applied worldwide. The Group is now run by second generation Richard Donner and third generation John Donner.


The Double TWO Company now produces men’s day shirts, leisure shirts, evening shirts, ladies’ shirts and blouses, skirts, dresses and soft suits; and jeans and casual trousers. Wm Sugdens produces work wear and career wear for people working from the factory floor to head office, and from warehouse to front of store retail.

In more recent years, production has gradually moved its production offshore and now manufactures throughout the Far East, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe. Each factory abroad is chosen for its quality and timely deliveries which produce Double TWO’s specially designed fabrics.

The Group offers its customers a 24 hour delivery service to most parts of the British Isles. The Group is accredited to BS EN ISO 9001:2000, and whilst over 90% of the Group’s production carries the Double TWO name, 10% is manufactured with the customer’s own label and to the customer’s special requirements.

In 1993 the Donners decided to start their own retail chain. Earlier experiments on the High Street had proved unprofitable, but a new highly successful retail development was just starting up in the UK. Sean Collidge brought the Freeport “brands for less” concept over from the USA. He acquired his first site at Hornsea and soon built five more sites.

Double TWO joined him and opened shops on all his sites. By bringing in carefully selected compatible brands of trousers, knitwear and ladies co-ordinates, the company attracted a wide audience to its shops. Soon other outlet centres opened all over Britain and Double TWO grew its chain to the present 23 shops. In 1994 the Donners were also approached by David Gummery and Chris Lockwood with the idea of developing mini clothing department stores, on an outlet basis but not necessarily on outlet sites. Garden centres and entertainment parks proved to be good locations.

In 1995 Richard Donner’s son, John, joined the company. Isaac Donner died in 2000. Richard and John now run Double TWO.
In this rapidly changing world Double TWO is one of the very few family owned branded clothing companies which has adjusted rapidly and continues to prosper.

The company has continued to succeed and in 2007 Double TWO received an award for ‘Innovation’ for the development of their Paradigm range.
The company was very proud to be amongst the 2013 winners of The Queen’s Award for International Trade. Richard Donner said “We have received many awards over the years but The Queen’s Award is our most prestigious one and I thank all our staff for working hard to achieve this.”

Recently Richard Donner was presented with Long Service to the Industry Award. The company continues to be run by the Donner family, now in the third century of trading and extremely proud of their heritage and delivering the best in clothing and customer care.