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Our Heritage

1845

George Livingston, our company founder, was born in Edinburgh on 24th of July 1845 to Andrew and Mary Livingston. Andrew was a Farm laborer by profession. George was educated in Edinburgh at the private school Daniel Stewart’s College (now Stewart’s Melville College), where he was the top student or “Dux” in his year.

1861

In the 1861 Census George was listed as a tailor, but he may have taken up the needle and thread some years earlier. George worked as a cutter at the prestigious firm of Marshall & Aitken, which had been established in 1770. Based at 27 & 29 North Bridge, Edinburgh, this civil and military tailoring firm dressed many of Scotland’s elite.

1876

George married his first wife, Rose Jordon.

1881

By 1881 George and Rose has relocated to Dunbar on Scotland’s east coast, where he worked as a cutter for Daniel Smith at 55 High Street.

1887

Following the death of Rose, George married Lucy Mitchell on 29th of July 1887.

1888

George’s son Andrew was born in Dunbar on 7th of May 1888. The first of 13 children, he was to become the second owner of the family business.

1895

In November 1895 Alexander McAdam, a tailor in Castle Douglas, died and his widow sold his tailoring business at 96 King Street to George Livingston
No 96 can be seen on the right. It was later demolished for the building of a Post Office.

1896

George, aged 51, began trading from 96 King Street in January 1896.

1904

A serious fire damaged a row of premises across King Street from George’s shop. When the buildings were refurbished, he moved across the road to 75 King Street. We have traded from this address ever since.

1906

By the end of 1906 George and Lucy Livingston had produced 13 children – six boys and seven girls. Andrew, Lucy, Mary and Emily were born in Dunbar. James, George, Annie, Henry, Elsie, Robert, Margaret, Elizabeth and Albert followed in Castle Douglas.

The seven Livingston sisters in the mid-1910s

1908

Our founder, George Livingston, died on 31st of July 1908 aged 63, leaving his widow Lucy with 13 children aged from 20 to two years. The responsibility for running the tailoring business and supporting the family fell to Andrew.

1909

To improve his cutting skills, Andrew went to London and studied at the world-renowned Tailor & Cutter Academy in Gerrard Street, Soho. Founded in 1866 by Scotsman John Williamson, who had established the influential trade paper The Tailor & Cutter two years earlier, the academy was regarded as the best bespoke tailoring school in the world.

Andrew’s diploma from the academy is dated 27th of March 1909 and hangs in our shop today.

A scale drawing from Andrew’s sketch book of January 1909.

1920

Andrew Livingston married Jessie Rogerson on 1st of July 1920.

1922

The scope of the business was enlarged by Andrew stocking ready-made garments, such as shirts, ties, underwear, caps and hats. The selection was expanded over the years to the comprehensive wardrobe options Livingston offers today.

George Livingston, who was to become the third owner of the business, was born on 23rd of May 1922.

1930s

Jessie with George and his younger brother Drew.

1940s

Andrew Livingston enjoying the sociable company of a crowd of bespoke tailors at a visit to a tailoring factory.

1942

Andrew died in September 1942, aged 54. With his son George serving overseas in the Army during the Second World War, his widow Jessie ran the business.

1949

Back in the business after the war, on 27th of December 1947 George married Andrewina Margaret Carson, who was known as Rena. They were to be very effective business partners as well as a happily married couple.

1954

The annual competition run by The Tailor & Cutter magazine was like the Oscars of the British bespoke tailoring community. Open to tailors across the UK, it was usually dominated by the big firms on Savile Row, but in 1954 G Livingston & Son became the only Scottish firm to win a Gold Medal in the contest.

George, Rena and their 10-month-old daughter Margaret with the cup awarded by cloth supplier Keith & Henderson for the “best cut, styled and made occasional jacket”.

The winning “occasional jacket” was cut by George Livingston and was sewn entirely by hand by his Polish assistant Stanley Sobcyzk. It remains in the family archive at 75 King Street, where the medal is proudly displayed on the wall.

George is seen here with Stanley Sobcyzk and the winning jacket. George was also awarded a Silver Medal in 1954 for a pair of his trousers.

1950s

George’s mother Jessie, seen here in 1958 with her son, was very active in the firm, proving herself to be an astute businesswoman and a needlewoman extraordinaire. She continued to work in the business into in her 80s.

The Gold Medal win was a spur for George to significantly grow his tailoring business. He enrolled the help of Ipswich-based tailor E M “Ted” Glazebrook to assist with the increased production.

Ted and his wife May became firm friends with the Livingston family.

The firm’s reputation was based on the skill of George, Stanley and staff like tailoress Margaret Blythe (seen in the middle here in 1954), who worked at G Livingston & Son for 45 years until 1990.

1962

George and Rena’s son Andrew (seen here with his sisters, Margaret & Joy) was born on 16th of March 1962. He would become the fourth generation to run the business.

1971

After 50 years of service with the firm, tailor John Trainor retired. When he started as an apprentice in 1921 at 5 shillings (now 25p) a week, he was paid an extra half a crown (the equivalent of 12.5p) a week for coming in early to light the stove to heat the pressing irons. The stove can still be seen in the tailoring shop.

Remarkably, John’s father James Trainor has worked for G Livingston & Son for 52 years. We like to keep talented staff!

1972

A teacher by training, Rena Livingston ran a nursery school in Castle Douglas for 15 years after raising her family. In 1972 Rena and George opened a complementary womenswear shop at 69 King Street in the unit next to the menswear shop.

1976

Andrew began to learn the bespoke tailoring craft from his father George, working after school and on Saturdays.

1979

After his initial training in the family business, Andrew went to Ipswich in Suffolk to finish his apprenticeship with Ted Glazebrook at E M Glazebrook.

1984

Andrew married Sue Clarke on 22nd March 1984. He had met her while working in Ipswich

1986

Lewis Livingston, who was to be the fifth generation to join the family firm, was born on 24th June 1986.

Lewis in 1988 with his sister Kathryn, who was born in 1984

1987

From the late 1980s Andrew Livingston expanded his knowledge of and skill in high-quality bespoke tailoring thanks to the connections of Derek Jackson, an agent for Scabal cloth, who introduced him to several renowned Savile Row tailors.

Among these was the legendary cutter Edward Sexton, seen here with his colleague Peter Osbourne. Both tailors greatly assisted Andrew to hone his skills.

Another important influence on Andrew was Salvo Cannia, an extremely talented tailor from Sicily, who worked for Edward Sexton. Master and pupil, Salvo and Andrew became great friends. The Livingston family holidayed in Sicily with Salvo several times, once driving all the way from Dumfries & Galloway to the foot of Italy.

1988

As well as learning from his father George, Andrew picked up tricks of the bespoke tailoring trade from Livingston’s head tailor, Margaret Blyth. (Pictured in the blue dress with Mary Carson & May Maxwell)

Pictured here with Andrew and George, Leonora Tait, Diane Thomson and Roy Bagen.

1996

George, Rena and Andrew celebrated 100 years since the original George Livingston took over Alexander McAdam’s tailoring business in Castle Douglas.

Aged 34, Andrew is very comfortable with his huge cutter’s shears, but he is less comfortable having his photograph taken.

2004

Having worked full-time until he was 82, George retired in 2004 to care for his ailing wife Rena, leaving Andrew to run the family firm.

2015

Having trained with Edward Sexton, Andrew has also worked with him all over the world, assisting this celebrated bespoke tailoring icon with his royal and showbusiness customers.

2016

Andrew describes Edward Sexton as his mentor. Edward asked Andrew to represent him in China, which opened new experiences for the man from Castle Douglas.

Andrew on a sales trip at the Hong Kong Jockey Club in Beijing.

A happy meeting with clients in Suzhou, a city of 11m people to the west of Shanghai.

2018

Continuing the tradition of long service at G Livingston & Son, tailoress Leonora Tait celebrated 50 years with the firm.



Our Heritage text by Eric Musgrave, author of "Sharp Suits", a photographic history of men's tailoring.