14. 1868 Penman’s

Yes, silk stockings, although I admit this is a teaser, as Penmans was much better known for their long underwear!





They began in Paris, Ontario in 1868, as The Ontario Knitting Mills. By 1890, with their name changed to the now familiar Penmans, they became one of the city’s largest companies, with employees imported from across Canada and England. The turn of the century saw them begin a run as Canada’s largest supplier of cotton and woollen knit goods that would last until the mid 1960s, being most recognized for their underwear and hosiery.

Dominion Textiles, one of Canadas largest textile concerns, bought the company at it’s peak in 1965. As importation laws and tariffs changed, the company began a downward slide. They moved production to Cambridge, Ontario in 1984 and then, renamed Dominion Fashion Group, to Toronto, in the late 1980’s. As sales decreased they changed their merchandise mix to active-sportswear. They also tried to keep up with the changing times by becoming the maker for other brands, in addition to their own namesake label, and by adding production that was made in China, to try to keep the prices competitive. It was not enough, and ca 2010, after almost 150 years of being successful Canadian Manufacturers, they closed shop.

Stockings ad from Chatelaine Magazine, November 1931
Mill #1 image from Paris City Archive ca 1900
Text ad from Dry Goods Review January 1900
Long John ad Dry goods Review 1929
Penmans 2 page ad from Dry Goods Review 1926
Penmans trio ad from Dry Goods Review 1929