(David) Fletcher Jones

(1895—1977) clothing manufacturer and retailer

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(1895–1977), clothing manufacturer, retailer and cooperative advocate, established a highly successful staff-owned business which pioneered fractional fittings for men's trousers. The son of a poor Bendigo blacksmith, Jones had limited formal education, was afflicted with a stutter, and was severely incapacitated after service in World War I. He set up as a travelling hawker in western Victoria in 1918, eventually buying a small, badly sited shop in Liebig Street, Warrnambool, in 1924. In Not By Myself (1976), says he was broke when he moved to central Warrnambool in 1927 to establish ‘The Man's Shop’, which specialised in tailoring and menswear. His ‘Daily Marvel’ promotions helped business boom. During World War II he acquired a government contract to manufacture covert and gabardine trousers. The fabric he called ‘Coverdine’ became a household word, while his emphasis on fractional fittings and ‘personal fittings only’ pushed ‘Oxford bags’ and ‘sloppy Joe’ trousers into the past. In 1946 he opened in Melbourne with the slogan ‘Nothing but trousers’, later adding ‘No man is hard to fit.’ Influenced by Japanese social reformer Toyohiko Kagawa, Jones introduced cooperative ownership, profit-sharing based on need, and management by consultation. From 1949 Fletcher Jones and Staff created a modern factory complex at Pleasant Hill, Warrnambool, surrounded by landscaped gardens and workers' cottages. The firm diversified into women's clothing and had shops across Australia at Jones's death in 1977. The business has since passed into private ownership.

From The Oxford Companion to Australian History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Australasian and Pacific History.

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