Haberdasher relates to a person who sells small items for sewing, this is a typical middle England trade. The items sold often include buttons, ribbons, zips and other such items. This definition is correct for Haberdashers within the UK, although within the United States the haberdasher is a term for mens outfitter. A mens outfitter within the UK is likely to be known as a tailor. The items a haberdasher sells are usually sold in a store known as a haberdashery. A haberdasher is quite an unusual term in the present day but was a well known term several decades ago when sewing was popular. As well as being a known term in the UK and US, the term is also used in places such as Belgium and Germany.
The patron saint of haberdasher is Saint Louis IX, the King of France 1226-1270; this shows how long this term has been used for. It also appears to suggest that the term originates from France. The novel Canterbury Tales featured the word haberdasher, in which they were carrying out the trade. Here they were selling items such as peddlers, needles and buttons, all items required for sewing.
Haberdasher was a particularly popular trade during medieval times; this is a time where trade opportunities were few and far between.
Notable and well known haberdashers include William Adams, Robert Aske, Captain James Cook, Daniel Defoe, Richard Goldthorpe, John Grant, Christopher Lloyd, Wayne Knight, Jospeh Merrick and George Newnes.
The haberdasher trade is an unusual trade in the present day, although some people do still operate within the market. A school was set up in the UK in 1690 named The Haberdashers Askes boys school. This school was set up and founded by the owners of a haberdasher company. The school is still open today, although it now costs 20,000 a year to attend the school.
Anybody attempting to find a haberdasher store may find it difficult as the trade has declined considerably. This is for many reasons, mainly due to the invention of modern day sewing machines and wholesale factories offering cheaper raw materials to clothes producers.
The amount of people who have time and also the amount of people interested in sewing has also decreased. New modern day hobbies have taken over previous hobbies such as sewing, despite its heritage throughout the UK. Not only does the amount of haberdasher stores appear to have declined but also there are few websites offering such services. This many therefore represent a gap of opportunity or prove that the trade has declined considerably.
As the haberdasher has such a heritage it is likely that the trade will not become totally redundant. Someone wishing to set up a store or website would have to compete with cheaper alternatives available from abroad, especially exporters such as China. It would make business sense to begin such a business on an auction website such as Ebay where a market is readily available and can advertise to with ease.