January 26th 2021
If you are browsing our store from today, you may notice that some of our prices have risen.
At Cornelia James, we have always striven for uncompromising quality in our gloves. We take great pride that all our gloves are still handmade in England to this day, by highly skilled glovemakers, using the finest materials. The world has changed a lot since we were founded, and the truth is that if we want to continue to uphold those same standards, and provide opportunities for our talented team, our prices must more accurately reflect today’s value of the skill and materials that go into them.
The company is almost exactly 75 years old. We think that we have preserved the essence of what Cornelia created and adapted it to a world transformed. Cornelia loved customer contact. She would have been enchanted at the idea that a pair of gloves could be carefully chosen by a person in New York City on a Sunday, cut and manufactured in Sussex, England on the Monday, and delivered in New York on the Wednesday; a little bit of English artistry transported anywhere in the world at the tap of a button.
We are absolutely committed to this artistry - making high quality gloves in England - and at the heart of the business is a team of skilled and dedicated glovemakers.
When Cornelia started the business in 1946 she tended to employ people straight out of school, aged fifteen or sixteen, and teach them a skilful routine that they would repeat roughly every 40 minutes through the working day. They might well be with us for most of their working lives, with ‘time out’ for having families and so on. We offered a good steady job with reasonable pay. One of our people spent the whole 50 years of her working life with Cornelia James.
Today, a majority of our production team is educated to university level. Our people have broad aims and aspirations; we hope that they are with us for the long term and that we can offer progression and fulfilment in a business that glows with vitality but, if they leave to build fashion empires of their own, we shall celebrate the fact that we gave them a start.
Employing, training and retaining people has become a lot more expensive but we firmly believe that the consequence will be a better business for us and better gloves for you.
We are committed to using the best fabrics for the job in hand.
Cornelia would buy cotton almost exclusively from Derbyshire, England. We still buy cotton from that same mill but the supply chain as a whole is much more complex and we want to be sure that, at every step in that chain, ethical standards, with which we can all be happy, are rock solid.
In theory it might be possible for us to put our name on quality goods manufactured in bulk overseas and sit back and enjoy the margins. But that’s not where we’re heading. We want to be part of the resistance to the relentless drift of manufacturing offshore and instead to foster and maintain the traditions of craft and workplace skills developed over decades. Put simply, we believe that we can make a better glove here.
We have recently become a third generation family business and - yes - we do know what they say about ‘clogs to clogs in three generations’. Family businesses have strengths and weaknesses. I speak as the second generation, with the benefit of witheringly ‘helpful’ advice from the third generation, and I think that we have come to know where we stand.
Manufacturing to a high quality is a precarious business; there will be bumps in the road that will threaten to throw us off balance and we realise that higher prices may mean fewer gloves sold. We ask a lot for our gloves and we put a good deal into them. Are we perfect? No - but we’re working on it. The quality that we try to build into our gloves means that they will last and last and we hope they will become key components in your wardrobe; the mantra of today is ‘buy fewer, buy better’.
Our values are core values, not brand values and we certainly don’t want to be a ‘luxury brand’. We simply want to sell you great gloves that are beautifully made and which will give you pleasure, year after year after year.