Debenhams – one of the world’s oldest department stores Ah Debenhams, today there is hardly a British city or shopping centre without a branch of this traditional British department store. But did you know the brand had its first success with, err, Victorian widows? Debenhams’ history goes back over 200 years but first emerged as a recognisable brand – both within Britain and internationally – when William Debenham invested in drapers shop in London’s West End in 1813. The shop quickly made a name for itself and soon a branch in Cheltenham opened. The brand’s success was curiously down to the Victorian trend for family mourning, which required widows and other female relatives to wear a strictly dictated style of clothing. The modern chain of shops gradually grew through the acquisition of department stores across the country, making it the largest UK department store group of the 1950s. Debenhams used to have a fab heritage site, which is now sadly closed down. We did however find these great pictures of past Debenhams catalogues. We think it might be time for a vintage heritage collection of past best sellers. Pretty please! 2 Responses Margaret Perry June 25th, 2012 I had no idea Debenham’s went so far back! I so wish they still made clothes like they did back in the day – they’re gorgeous! The 50s outfits are especially chic. La Sweeta Deeva July 3rd, 2012 QOV you are SPOT ON when you call for the release of a Debenhams heritage collection! 1950’s dreamy!