Arron Harnden

A History of UK Military Uniform


A Timeline of British Military Uniform

redcoat history military uniform

In the minds of many, the British military uniform of the past is the redcoat. This uniform was made familiar by images of the guards in London, and countless movies of British soldiers fighting Zulus in Africa, the French at Waterloo, and American rebels or patriots (depending on your point of view). How did the colour red come to be associated with the British soldier?


Apart from a few specialised guard units like the Yeomen warders – the famous Beefeaters seen today at the Tower of London – British soldiers did not have a standard uniform until the first permanent armies appeared during the English Civil Wars.

When the first English armies were raised, it’s likely that red was chosen because red dye was easily available and relatively inexpensive. At that time, national armies in Europe also began adopting colours associated with their countries. Although not all British troops were dressed in red, it soon became their iconic colour.

As Britain became more powerful and acquired a large overseas empire, the red coat was seen throughout the world. It became the colour of the British soldier, or 'redcoat'.

The Nineteenth Century

The nineteenth and early twentieth century saw the greatest development and variety of British military uniforms. Encounters with other armies during the Napoleonic wars led to the adoption of foreign uniform, such as the busby, fur-lined pelisse and short boots of the Hungarians for hussar regiments. The exploits of the Polish cavalry led to the formation of lancer regiments, who adopted not only the lance, but also the characteristic four-cornered Polish headgear, the czapska.


Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
2489 Hits
Andy Timmins

5 Creative Things To Do With Old Clothes


Innovations For Your Old Clothes 

I'm sure many of us are guilty of simply throwing away our old clothes that we never wear anymore. However by thinking creatively we can make those disused items last much longer and create a meaningful use for them!

We compiled a list of our favourite innovative ideas, some of which you may want to try yourself.


Using old clothes to make an apron is a really good idea, as it saves you from getting your current clothes dirty and therefore another load of washing. They can also be completely unique to your taste and style. The process of creating them is also very easy and enjoyable.

If you want advice and tips on how to make these, click here.


Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
3378 Hits
Arron Harnden

A History of the Oxford-Cambridge Varsity Rivalry



A Background on the Oxford & Cambridge Battle

The rivalry between England’s two most prestigious Universities has been raging for more than one hundred years and does not show any signs of stopping any time soon.The two Universities go head to head with each other in everything from academic rankings to sporting events, the most well-known being the varsity rugby match.

Rugby Varsity Match 

The annual varsity rugby match between Oxford and Cambridge has been played every year since 1872. The varsity match is one of the world’s longest running sporting events and classed as the pinnacle of student and amateur rugby. The game to determine the holders of the varsity title was traditionally played on the second Tuesday of December at 2pm until 2007 when it was moved to a Thursday.

The day change however didn’t change the popularity of the match and it still continues to attract large audiences. Although Oxford and Cambridge are not professional rugby teams, they remain at the forefront of the development of the sport and continue to be a benchmark for the game due to their promotion of the traditional values and ideals.

After the most recent match in 2014, Cambridge University currently has the lead with 61 wins against Oxfords 58. The teams have tied a total of 14 times.

Oxbridge also play in varsity matches in a number of other sports including water polo, with the first ever match in recorded history being played between Oxford and Cambridge in 1891.


Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
2377 Hits
Andy Timmins

The Most Unusual University Sports

Strange Sports in Colleges & Universities

At University it is not uncommon to see people play Rugby or Football, but these other sports are also beginning to take off...

For many Universities, sport is a big deal and for a lot of students, joining a university team is a gateway to a whole new social environment.
However, while several universities partake in the traditional sports such as football, rugby, basketball and cricket, a few new sports are beginning to creep onto the university scene and they are a little different from the conventional sports teams.

Underwater Hockey

underwater-hockey players

Hockey has been a popular sport with universities for years ever since its inception in the 19th century. Field hockey then evolved over time and ice hockey was developed in Canada in 1875.Universities across the country have now taken this popular past-time to a new level with the introduction of underwater hockey.

Also known as Octopush, underwater hockey follows the typical rules of regular hockey. Underwater hockey teams usually consist of 6 players who use curved sticks to hit a puck into the other team’s goal. Although the sport is gaining more and more players around the world, it is still yet to develop a large following outside of universities.

However, the sport is still in its early days and is one to be watched because it is set to become something of a phenomenon within competitive university sport.

If you are interested in joining this club in Oxford, then click here.

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
2914 Hits
Andy Timmins

Weird and Wonderful College & University Traditions

Looking at Some of the Stranger Traditions on Campus


Going to university offers more to students than a degree.

University life brings with it a sense of community and camaraderie as students experience the trials and tribulations of university life together. They gain a shared sense of belonging at attending a venerable institution.

And sometimes they get more than they bargained for. 

University culture has some weird and wonderful traditions that have been passed down over the years. Here are some of the most bizarre university (or college) traditions from around the world.

Time Ceremony, Merton College, Oxford

As the oldest university in the English-speaking world, it’s only natural that Oxford is home to many bizarre traditions throughout its many colleges, but the Time Ceremony held at Merton College really takes the biscuit.

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
2321 Hits
Andy Timmins

Sport in Oxford: A History


A Long & Established History of Sport in Oxford

roger bannisterThe city of Oxford can boast a rich sporting heritage, with many historic events and victories across numerous different disciplines to its name. Oxford owes much of its sporting success to its famous university, as the facilities and traditions there have supported its alumni in every endeavour possible.

Let’s take a look at some of Oxford’s greatest sporting achievements.

Roger Bannister

Perhaps the finest moment of all in Oxford’s sporting history took place on 6 May 1954. At the university owned Iffley Road running track, medical student Roger Bannister fulfilled his ambition of running the world’s first sub-4-minute mile.

Having come within 2 seconds a year before, and knowing that other runners - particularly Australian John Landy - were nearing the milestone, Bannister battled strong winds to set the record in front of 3000 spectators. That same season Bannister compounded that achievement by winning the 1500m (the so-called metric mile) at the European Championships in Bern before retiring from Athletics to concentrate on his work in the field of medicine.

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
1685 Hits
Andy Timmins

The 10 Worst Football Shirts in History

Looking at Some of the Worst Designs in Football's History

With every new football season comes a large variety of new football shirts, now so more than ever. Gone are the days of the 2 year shirt cycle, and now every top club releases at least 2 brand new shirts every year.

While it’s impossible to please everyone, occasionally a shirt is released to universal derision from fans the world over. Here are our picks for the 10 worst in history (so far).

1. A Ketchup Mishap


In 2004 La Liga side Athletic Bilbao released a shirt (see right!) designed by Basque artist Dario Urzay to commemorate the club’s centenary year, apparently inspired by the works of art in Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum.

A well meaning effort perhaps, but one that shares more in common with a ketchup mishap than fine art.

2. The Tigers


This Hull City shirt from 1992 gave fans an unexpected glimpse of the future. The club is nicknamed the Tigers due to the traditional black and amber stripes that adorn their home shirts.

New owner Dr. Assem Allam took things one step further this year when he attempted to Americanise the club by officially changing its name to the Hull Tigers, hoping to increase commercial revenue.

The idea was thankfully rejected by the Football Association, which is just as well; nobody wants to see another shirt like this.

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
5450 Hits
Andy Timmins

A Preview to Living Wage Week

living-wageLiving Wage Week raises awareness of the Living Wage and celebrates employers who have been accredited by the Living Wage Foundation. This UK-wide celebration happens from 2-8 November 2014.

Expect many national and community events, including:

- New 2014-2015 Living Wage rates announced

- The Living Wage Foundation unveiling a new report on the impact of the Living Wage

- Accredited Living Wage Employers celebrating and raising awareness by sponsoring company-wide events, hosting industry-wide discussions, and offering sales promotions.

Living Wage Overview

The Living Wage rate is based on what a person needs to cover basic living costs and varies in different parts of the country. The National Minimum Wage already exists as a legal minimum pay standard, but the Living Wage is different.

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
2026 Hits
Arron Harnden

The Top Ten Websites For Students

best student websitesThe Best Student Sites on the Web

Undergraduate years are the best of your life - or so they say.

Make the most of your student experience by checking out these top websites:

1. Save the Student:

If you’ve lived at home for the last 18 years, it is unlikely that you’ve ever needed to make as many independent decisions and this can be very scary. Knowing how to save money, look for next years’ accommodation, and many other things can be soul-destroying at times…

Luckily Save the Student can help; offering advice on finances, housing, and utilities.

Visit Save the Student

2. The Ultimate Health Food Guide:

healthy food guideOne thing that tends to go out of the window as soon as you properly leave home for the first time is your nutrition and diet. With the amount of flyers you will receive around campus on Freshers’ Week for fast food and pizza outlets it is very tempting to disregard the benefits of fresh food almost instantly.

The Ultimate Health Food Guide offers advice on what to eat for almost any situation - through weight loss, illness, sleep problems among many others. A good place to start for self-medication!

Visit The Ultimate Health Food Guide

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
4192 Hits
Andy Timmins

Stepping Into Sustainability: How To Make Your Business Green

Tips on Improving Your Business' Green Credentials

recyclingAt Shirtworks, we're proud of our green credentials and our ethical policies, and we are helping more businesses across the UK improve their approach and their supply chain as they use our products and services.

As well as having an impact on the environment, having a green policy implemented in your business can also save your organisation money.


One of the keys areas of waste within the office environment. Reducing use of paper in your office, therefore, can have a massive impact on the global environment. Encourage employees to avoid printing out emails, and make moves for your marketing literature to be sent to customers via email instead of in the post. Of course, some things will still need to be printed, so consider changing to recycled paper for your printer.


Putting recycling bins in your office will make a significant difference to your green credentials. Allowing scrap paper to be recycled and food waste to be composted is a great way of running an office in a sustainable way. It is key, however, to ensure that bins are clearly labelled so staff aren’t tempted to mix their recyclables undoing all the hard work from others.


Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
1307 Hits
Andy Timmins

Shirtworks New Quoting & Ordering System

We have launched a new online ordering system, designed to make ordering your custom clothing even easier.

New features of the ordering system include:

Mixing Colour and Sizing Options 

custom clothing colour options

You can now mix colour, customisation and sizing options, meaning you can now get accurate quotes for a batch of items that may have size dependent customisations!

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
2417 Hits
Andy Timmins

3 Ways To Upcycle Your Summer Wardrobe

Upcycling Your Old Clothes

upcycled clothingThe summer sun is finally here and it’s time to whip out your sunglasses and your sun friendly clothes. Whilst it’s always nice to rediscover old summer clothes, it is often the case that they are the wrong size, in worse quality than you remember or simply not in fashion anymore.

It easy to hit the shops to buy your new wardrobe but not only is that not cost effective, it can be difficult to navigate round the high street stores that are often recognised for using unethical production practices. A great way to reinvent your wardrobe in a cheaper, greener way is to upcycle your outfits.

Upcycling is the processes of taking something unwanted or unusable and converting it into a product of better quality and value and the practice has taken off in the art, music and fashion industry. Here are three quick, cheap and easy methods to up cycle some of those older, unloved pieces in your wardrobe.

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
2527 Hits
Andy Timmins

Embroidered Clothing - What To Know Before Purchasing

Advice About Embroidered Clothing


When deciding upon custom clothing for your team, business or club, you will need to make the decision on how you'd like your custom elements/design to be applied to the clothing.

Traditionally, most will opt for a traditional screen printed design, although digital printing is also increasing in popularity. Another option is embroidery; embroidered designs produce a high quality, professional result.

Due to the timeframes and costs of embroidered clothing, it is better suited to smaller runs. Embroidered designs are typically smaller (for example, a 10cm square chest logo, rather than a full chest design). Clothing can be both embroidered and printed (for example, and embroidered logo on the front of the garment, and a screen printed design on the rear).

What Type of Clothing?

Custom embroidery is better suited to heavier garments, like polo shirts, jackets, hoodies, sweatshirts and high quality heavy t-shirts.

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
3465 Hits
1 Comment
Andy Timmins

Unity At University: Wearing Your Colours Proudly

oxford university emblemAt Shirtworks we work with many University societies, colleges and teams to create great sports kits, as well as printed & embroidered clothing that help encapsulate the sense of camaraderie and community that University is all about.

These organisations help new students meet each other and share their common interests, ideas, and hobbies. This is a huge part of the University experience, with many people making friendships that last a lifetime.

So what kind of societies and groups can you join at University?


Every University will proudly host a range of different societies, most of which are often listed as the responsibility of the Student Union. Some societies will have run for many years and have certain expectations of their clan, whereas others may be newer and have popped up due to current trends.

The societies can be started by any student and normally have an allocated budget of funding offered to them by the Student Union. This budget covers expenses such as any trips or events the society wants to hold.


Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
2128 Hits
Andy Timmins

Introducing Sustainable Living To Your Home

Tips to Improve Your Sustainable Lifestyle

sustainable green livingSustainable Living - a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s use of the Earth’s natural resources and personal resources.

Home - The place where one lives permanently.

There are many reasons why we should live more sustainable lifestyles, but here at Shirtworks we think the reason is clear. If we want our home to have the permanence that forms its definition then we have to start respecting our Earth as our home by protecting it’s natural resources and respecting the natural ecology of our world.

Often the idea of living more sustainably can be daunting, but by following the steps below, you can make small, simple changes to your lifestyle which will help protect and respect our planet.

And no, we’re not going to tell you to start sharing showers to save water, or become a nudist to save on clothes production!


An easy way to make your home more sustainable is to look at power use throughout the home. It is widely known that our excessive consumption of electricity is not currently at a sustainable level, and we are rapidly using up natural resources. So when you are in the home:

Turn electrical items off completely - not just on standby - unplug it when not in use. Turn your lights off when you leave a room, and don’t leave your music playing to an empty room - no one likes a lonely disco.

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
2108 Hits
Arron Harnden

The Most Expensive T-Shirt In The World

One Man With Ridiculously Lavish Style


It is a long standing fact that India has a fascination with gold, and in the culture it stands as a symbol for prestige and power. As with lots of other countries across the world, many Indian men and women purchase gold to make a statement about their wealth and glamour.

Datta Phuge, also affectionally known as 'the gold man' shocked the world when he took fashion and flamboyance to the next level with his awe inspiring gold tshirt. A self confessed gold obsessive from Pimpri Chinchwad, just outside of Pune in India, commissioned a T-Shirt for himself that was made entirely out of gold.

The 133 year old company that Datta used created the item with fashion and comfort in mind. They used a gold cloth sewn in Italian weave as well as a soft velvet lining to ensure the top was easy to wear for Datta. The tshirt was created with a special machine and the design was inspired by historical Indian kings who used to wear large suits of armour.

The T-shirt clinks on movement and cannot be washed so it is very important that Datta Phuge takes care to protect it from sweat and dirt, which is easy to pick up. The shirt tooks fifteen days and sixteen people to make, weighs 3.3kg and cost a whopping $250,000 (approx £150,000). He has also had to hire a security guard to follow him when he wears the shirt, although he saves it for special luxurious occasions rather than wearing it daily.

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
4841 Hits
Andy Timmins

The Importance Of Quality: Why Choose Ethical?

Choosing The Quality Of Ethically Produced Goods

Ethical Clothing QualityEthical clothing implies that the clothing has been produced while giving the workers fair wages, keeping the effect on the environment to a minimum and offering workers fair conditions.

Ethical clothing companies ensure that the workers producing their goods are given fair and stable wages as well as avoids the use of animal skin and damage to the surrounding environment. Workers hired by ethical clothing companies can be certain of a clean, hygienic environment without the fear of violence through forced overtime hours or low wages.

Unfortunately, relatively few people choose ethical clothing products because they can be more expensive due to the added care and attention to the environment and the workers in the industry. In turn, companies tend to be less willing to invest in ethical pieces because there are less people willing to spend money on higher priced products. However, having said that, since the disaster in Bangladesh and its high profile in the media, people are becoming further aware of the need for ethical priorities in the fashion industry. This disaster, alongside the work of The Ethical Fashion Forum which covers an expansive network of ethical professionals, work together to raise awareness for the need of ethical products and help to grow the market and audience for ethical fashion.

Ethical clothing is not all about protecting the environment and people. To offset the possibility of unethical practices earning a larger chunk of the fashion market and industry, ethical clothing is often of far better quality than its rival. This means that whilst it can appear more expensive, you are getting better quality for your money. Owner of Shirtworks, Andy Timmins, says, “Ethically made garments tend to be heavier in weight and the higher quality fabrics tend to be used.” He adds that, “Ethical suppliers can’t compete on price, so they give a better product.”


Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
2555 Hits
Andy Timmins

The Plastic Bag Charge: Helping Wales Become Greener

How The Carrier Bag Charge Has Impacted The Environment

plastic bag chargesSince October 2011, retailers in Wales were forced to implement a charge of 5p on every carrier bag. This law included paper bags, as well as plastic carrier bags. The aim of this regulation was to change the habits of shoppers in Wales, in a bid to reduce the unnecessary consumption of carrier bags, and to encourage shoppers to re-use their existing bags.

There was some controversy surrounding this at the beginning, with critics arguing that it was unfair to force this extra charge on consumers. Critics of the law also argued that it would be impossible to enforce without extra funding to local authorities, and that they would need 100% cooperation with all retailers. However, despite the objections of some doubters, it seems that the scheme has been a resounding success.

Good Causes

As well as encouraging consumers to change their approach and to think proactively about the environment, the charges of carrier bags in Wales are channelled directly into charities such as RSPB and Keep Wales Tidy. According to an interview with The Guardian, John Griffiths - at the time, Welsh environment minister - said that the measures had raised over £800,000 for good causes that help the environment.

The fact that this law was not introduced as a traditional tax to boost government funds was seen as a major benefit, and arguably this fact has made it more acceptable for the general public.

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
3022 Hits
Andy Timmins

When to use digital printing or when to screen printing for your t-shirts


We are often asked what is the difference between digital and screen printing and which method should I use. You can read about screen printing and digital printing in our services pages to help give you an understanding on the two methods. But for when to use each method can be a tricky one and as always there are lots of variables that need to be looked at before making a decision and it is not always a black or white option. 

The first thing to consider is number of garments that are to be printed with your design. If you want less than 10 items then your only choice is digital as there is a minimum number of 10 for screen printing. As this is digital then there are no limits on the number of colours that we can print in the design. OK so there we have an easy answer because there is only one answer there are a few more scenarios where you have no choice and that is when you are using full colour artwork or using 6.7 or 8 spot colours on quantities of less than 100. 


Full colour artwork means we are using shades and tones, which can be a photograph but can also mean gradients of the same colour. There are times we can screen print these gradients on lower numbers but we would need to see your artwork to confirm this

Spot colours are solid colours of ink and the image on th eright shows a 3 colour example.


What if my design is just 1 colour and I want 10 of them? This is where we can either go the traditional way of screen printing or choose digital printing. so how do I decide? Screen printing is the most durable and is cheaper to actually print so surely this is the best option?


Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
12121 Hits
Andy Timmins

Five Of The Best Ethical Fashion Websites

Here at Shirtworks we take our ethical code of conduct very seriously. We also know that our customers take their purchasing habits seriously, so we've put together a helpful short-list of five of the best ethical fashion websites.

1. Ms Wanda's

ms wandasThe tagline on Ms Wanda's site is 'looking good on the outside, feeling good on the inside,' and really that perfectly summarises how sustainable, ethical clothing should be. The successful 'Uber Blog' brings together a range of likeminded writers that all aim to change the world one article at a time.

Funded through advertising, voluntary donations and the sale of ethical clothing, they aim to 'clean up fashion' by raising awareness, and not just about the ethical options available but also by highlighting the damage that current fashion programmes can cause with examples such as the Bangladeshi factory collapse.

2. Style With Heart

style with heartStyle With Heart was founded by Gillian Osrin, a remarkable woman with 20 years fashion industry experience and an interesting philosophy. She says, 'it saddens me that the word 'fashion' often implies products that have a sell-by-date, designed to satisfy the latest impulses of a society that often values quantity over quality.'

The aim of Style With Heart is to bring together a selection of stunningly made clothes, jewellery and accessories that make you look and feel beautiful. However it is more than an e-commerce website, Style With Heart also offers interesting events, special offers and advice on sustainable living for anybody that's interested in ethical fashion.

Continue reading
Rate this blog entry:
2892 Hits
Popular Blog