Charlie George

Charlie Rhodes and George Beckett were lads of working class origins who met in the early 1900s while refining their craft in the employ of one of England's finest tailors.

In early 1906, in the course of their work, they were introduced by chance to a fabric of such quality and luster that they felt reservations about taking to it with their tailoring scissors. The fabric was Egyptian cotton.

After much research and investigation Rhodes and Beckett learned that cotton had been produced in Egypt for longer than any other region in the world. Furthermore the staple length (the length of the cotton fibers) and fineness of Egyptian cotton was far superior to any other cotton, and hence the shirting fabrics produced were ultimately the best that could be sourced from anywhere in the world.

They hatched a plan. While wonderful craftsmen, and as accepted as they were by the upper class Jermyn establishment, neither Rhodes nor Beckett were suited to its stifled, conservative atmosphere: their towering ambition, their impatience with authority and their ready sense of mischief made them more suited to a life of enterprise and adventure.

They would set sail for Egypt in search of the finest fabrics they could lay their hands on, purchase them and export them back to London at massive profit.

Rhodes and Beckett arrived in Cairo in mid 1907 and, after a short period of time, settled in the Alexandria region, the home of the Egyptian cotton weaving industry. There they mixed with ease among the local market traders, gambled, drank and fought with them and, in the evenings, moved among a circle of beautiful female companions.

In early 1908 when much of their wealth, intended to fund the purchase of fabrics for export to England, had been consumed, they knuckled down to work.

They established their own tailoring and shirt-making workshop in the spring of 1908 and, several months later, after employing and training local Egyptian craftsmen, began to turn out hundreds of beautifully crafted hand tailored shirts made from the world's finest cotton.

In the ensuring years Rhodes and Beckett prospered. Their shirts became famous among expatriates and Egyptian Royalty and, from time to time, they exported their wares back to England where wealthy Londoners 'who had heard of these incredible shirts' could enjoy for themselves a rare blend of English tailoring and the finest Egyptian cotton.