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Plain to see Victoria has a purler of a business; in association with RBS.

Byline: Karen Dent

ACRAFTY company is sewing up the market for hand-knitted period stage costumes.

Socks made by the Almost Unwearoutable Company are currently treading the West End boards on the feet of Jeremy Irons in his role as former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in the hit play Never So Good.

The Stannington-based business created the bespoke Eton stockings beloved of Macmillan for the play, after producers had searched high and low without success.

Sleeveless jumpers, berets and socks were also specially commissioned for the children in the latest stage production of Mary Poppins which is about to open in Edinburgh.

Business owner Victoria Robertson said: "It's great to be able to resolve problems for theatre producers throughout the country with our hand-knitted creations.

"We pride ourselves on producing exclusives that exactly fit the person or the occasion."

Almost Unwearoutable's team of 11 knitters is based in Northumberland, with two working on socks and stockings and nine producing other items which are sold via the business's website.

"I find them through word of mouth but I could still do with some more," she said. "It's becoming easier as knitting is becoming fashionable again."

Victoria, who has been involved with the company since 1975 and took it over in 1983, is in the process of relaunching her website after receiving rural business funding from Business Link.

Her presence on the internet was a "godsend" for Almost Unwearoutable because it kept the business ticking over while Victoria was involved in caring for her twin sister Eugenie Burne, who suffered from the neurological disease Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP).

"My twin sister was dying of a neurological disease over three years and I helped to look after her and I had to pull in the horns of the business," she said.

"I was amazed because the business carried on with no advertising."

Around the time Eugenie died last year, a buyer from Harrods got in touch to enquire about sourcing long Fair Isle stockings. The thigh length pair Almost Unwearoutable produced were shown at New York Fashion Week.

"They found me on the internet. The internet has been an absolute godsend," said Victoria.

The Harrods contract persuaded Victoria to consider targeting a different type of customer and she has started to market her clothing at an urban audience instead of concentrating solely on rural buyers.

"My core public is the hunting, shooting and fishing public and they will always buy from me," she said. "But now it's going for trendy young teenagers."

She is now looking for ways to use the business to raise awareness of PSP, which is the same disease that comedian Dudley Moore suffered from.


INTERNET WAS A GODSEND Victoria Robertson of Almost Unwearoutable.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 4, 2008
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