Messrs W and O Marcus Ltd.

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Design books 1945-1957; loose patterns 1956-1958; unpublished history of the fashion house 2003.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Fashion House of Messrs W and O Marcus was founded by brothers Walter and Otto Marcus. They were originally from Westphalia in Germany but had to leave because of Nazi persecution of Jews. They founded the fashion house in London in the 1930s, originally at St Margaret's House in Wells Street but later moved to Marcol House in Regent Street. The firm was part of the London Model House Group, and had the registered trade names Marcus (couture), Marcusa (ready to wear) and Jersey de Luxe.

In 1940 they set up a branch factory in Hawick at Wilglen Mill in Commercial Road. This was partly because of the disruption in London caused by the blitz, but they also were friendly with Otto Wiesz who was a head designer at Pringles. The manageress of the factory was Mrs Frederica Rosenberger, who was originally from Budapest in Hungary but had also left the continent because of Nazi persecution. The designer in Hawick was a Czechoslovakian called Ditta Kerpin and sketched most of the designs in the design books. Most of the samples for the London Fashion House were made in Hawick. The materials used were quite luxurious - silk, velvet, taffeta and wool crepe as well as tweed from Gardiners of Selkirk. Some staff from Pringles also did work at the Factory, and by the mid 1940s the workshop employed 180 workers.

The factory continued after the war to produce high class fashion ladies garments. Orders came from many London stores including Harrods, Fortnum and Mason and Selfridges as well as Jenners in Edinburgh and Debenhams. Walter Marcus settled in Hawick, and arranged regular fashion shows in the Tower Hotel and invited guests from around the Borders and London as well as the factory workers. Lord and Lady Minto were regular guests. Materials were sent up to Hawick by rail, and the finished garments were also sent down to London by rail. Eventually, rail charges increased so much that it became uneconomical to use the factory in Hawick, and on 30th October 1964 the factory closed.

Arrangement

Arranged chronologically in accordance with the classification scheme.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation by appointment.

Acquisition Information

Donated in 2004 as Accession E25.

Other Finding Aids

Paper finding aid is available in the search room.

Accruals

Not expected.

Location of Originals

The collection is original. Located at Heriot-Watt University's Scottish Borders Campus.