A Short History of Lavant Workwear

Lavant Workwear started life in 1985 as “Sarah’s Workwear”, above the Buttermarket in North Street, Chichester.

With a grand opening by Sir Patrick Moore, we began by selling basic working clothes such as overalls, trousers and aprons, soon branching out into the realms of casual menswear such as sports jackets, blazers and cardigans. After a year, the business was renamed “Lavant Workwear”. The photographs which accompany this article are from the very early days of Lavant Workwear.

Although Lavant Workwear has never actually been located in Lavant, it was named after the village where the family owners lived, and previously ran “Lavant Tailors” in the 1970s, which was indeed located in Lavant, so it made sense to retain that village connection in the name.

The “Lavant Tailors” origins have resulted in two important legacies: firstly we have always been able to offer a free, professional shortening service for the trousers we sell, probably unique in our line of business; secondly we know exactly how garments should be constructed for the best, most comfortable fit and maximum strength, and are able to carefully select lines and advise manufacturers accordingly, something that is extremely beneficial to our customers and often extremely frustrating but helpful to the factories that manufacture our products!

During the early 1990s a second shop was opened in Jay Walk, Chichester, named “Lavant Outdoor Clothing”. At a time of a boom in hiking clothing, Lavant Outdoor Clothing specialised in lines such as highly techinical breathable waterproofs and walking boots. Eventually the split site operation proved too impractical (much rushing back and forth with garments that were always in the ‘wrong shop’!) and the two businesses were integrated into a double-sized shop in Jay Walk.

In 1996 our Midhurst branch was opened, recognising the demand for reasonably priced work clothing in the area, and the extremely poor offering from the existing work clothing suppliers in the Midhurst area at the time.

In 1997 the Chichester branch was closed. Although still an extremely successful and popular business, expenses such as rent and rates were spiralling and it was time to leave for a location with more sensible overheads, in which a small business would have the chance to thrive. The ease with which customers could park close by in Midhurst was also an important factor, something that had become more and more problematical in Chichester.

Subsequently the Midhurst branch was expanded to allow for a much greater range of products. We moved into the field of customisation, investing in our own machinery so we could offer embroidered logos to an exceptionally high standard, controlled completely in house.

Our number one priority has always been the quality of the products we offer. We look for the best possible quality of garments, and then offer them at the fairest possible prices. So many companies get that back to front!

Quality has to come first. Because of this we have thrived now for over 35 years.

Long gone are the days of sports jackets, tweed caps, “Open All Hours” khaki coats and denim dungarees, and we now live in an age of technical composite footwear, soft shell jackets and knee pad pocket trousers. We have seen the introduction of the fleece jacket, the demise of heavy nitrile boots to be replaced with the dual density sole, and the dawning of the age of the hoody! We bid a fond farewell to swipe through credit card machines, the “Access” card, and now even cheque payments, and welcomed the use of emails and text messaging as our primary means of distance communication.

Through all these changes Lavant Workwear has been owned by the same family, still committed to offering the best quality at the best prices and the best possible standard of service.