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Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street wearing Albert Thurston suspenders
Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street wearing Albert Thurston suspenders
History Lesson

Albert Thurston Suspenders: A Complete History

February 23rd, 2022
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The best suspenders in the world

Today, if you ask any stylish gentleman what brand his suspenders are, you’ll most likely get the same answer: Albert Thurston. Once a luxury item fit for kings, Albert Thurston suspenders remain an essential accessory in any well-dressed man’s wardrobe. But why are these particular suspenders considered the best of the best? Let’s find out.

Who was Albert Thurston?

For a well-known and respected eponymous business, little information on its founder is available. Albert Thurston, the man, was a tailor and trader in London who specialized in luxurious, custom-made items for men. He was touted for his unerring taste in men’s accessories even before his wildly popular modern suspenders burst on the scene in the early 19th century.

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Who invented suspenders?

While the French are accredited with the invention of a preliminary design of suspenders, known as bretelles, Albert Thurston holds the title as the inventor of the modern suspenders, or “braces” in proper British English, which emerged on the market in 1820. However, another 19th-century innovator holds more than a footnote on the topic.

Samuel Clemens, better known as the novelist Mark Twain, was granted a patent in 1871 for adjustable and detachable straps on garments. Clemens’ invention featured buttons and buckles, and elastic straps that could easily move from one garment to another.

Yet, upon further inspection, dress historians agree that his design was more of a revolt against suspenders, a men’s accessory he openly denounced as “uncomfortable.”

Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) patent for improvement to suspenders

Clemens’ straps tightened garments from within to keep them in place rather than relying on vertical straps or a belt. Moreover, Clemens’ straps could be used on more than trousers, cinching the waist in shirts, corsets and underpants, and eventually serving its sole purpose in modern clothing as the band of a bra.

It is likely that Clemens’ suspenders alternative would have evaded notice if it had not been for the celebrity of its inventor and its later usefulness in undergarments. While the belt remains suspenders’ ultimate nemesis, the adjustable straps were certainly an open antithesis to Thurston’s design.

Albert Thurston Business Timeline & History

Albert Thurston brought his handmade suspenders to the market in 1820 at his emporium on 27 Panton Street, Haymarket, London. His premier design featured tightly woven wool that formed the figure of an uppercase H across the wearer’s back.

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As his suspenders grew in popularity, the design evolved into X and Y backs from varying materials, including silk. Neither elastic nor metal clasps had been invented yet, so they were not included in Thurston’s original design. True to form, all Thurston suspenders sold today continue to feature button loops to preserve the classic, clean lines of the original design.

Albert Thurston suspenders page from catalog

In 1851, Thurston’s eponymous company received Honourable Mention at the Great Exhibition at Hyde Park for its standard of excellence. This event, also called the Crystal Palace Exhibition in reference to the building designed and erected specifically for it, was an expo that featured an international collection of industrial arts, including sartorial items, home decor, firearms, and manufacturing innovations. Six million people attended between May and October, including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Although the popularity of suspenders waned in the 20th century at the onset of more form-fitting, low-waisted pants, the brand continued to appeal to the gentleman with an eye for elegance. Sir Ralph Richardson, a contemporary of Laurence Olivier, best known for his performance in the 1949 film The Heiress, was a loyal customer and confessed to buying six pairs of Albert Thurston suspenders from his tailor on Savile Row in 1939 at the outbreak of World War II for fear of impending fabric rations.

In 2020, Albert Thurston celebrated its bicentennial anniversary of producing quality suspenders. As in its beginning, Albert Thurston continues to pride itself in its traditional British craftsmanship. To this day, each pair is handcrafted in England with fine materials, like silk and leather, retaining its original luxurious feel for the 21st-century wearer.

Famous Albert Thurston suspenders wearers

Through the ages, men of great social standing and influence have worn Albert Thurston suspenders, including kings, princes, presidents, top businessmen and Hollywood stars.

Although information is scant when it comes to which rulers and heads of state in particular wore Albert Thurston suspenders–perhaps tailors were the first to value and abide by client confidentiality–the film industry is much a different story!

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street wearing Albert Thurston suspenders
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In recent years, British actor Gary Oldman wore Albert Thurstons on screen in The Darkest Hour, a film following Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s life, indicating Churchill may have been one of the said politicians committed to the brand. Fictional U.S. Attorney Rhoades, played by Paul Giamatti on HBO’s Billions, carries on the legacy of bureaucrats in braces today.

Speaking of businessmen, albeit fictional, Christian Bale and Michael Douglas wore Albert Thurston suspenders while portraying 1980s businessmen in American Psycho and Wall Street, respectively. Continuing with the New York elite theme, Leonardo DiCaprio wore them in Baz Luhrman’s production of The Great Gatsby.

James Bond & Albert Thurston

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royale wearing white moire Albert Thurston suspenders with gold hardware

But by far the most talked about character who dons the brand is Agent 007: Bond, James Bond. When played by Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig, Bond wears Albert Thurston suspenders as part of black tie ensembles in five films: The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill, Casino Royale, Skyfall and No Time to Die. The persisting appearance of both James Bond and Albert Thurston side by side, or rather, one atop the other, proves how much both brands are intertwined with the classic persona: half charm, half wit, and fully daring.

An essential yet subtle element of Bond’s tuxedos, Albert Thurston receives special attention with each new Bond film, including as portrayed by Daniel Craig in No Time To Die, Spectre, Skyfall, Quantum of Solace, and Casino Royale.

Where to buy Albert Thurston suspenders

Whether for espionage or everyday business, at a black tie affair or in a casual setting, suspenders are a must-have item for any well-dressed man. Look no further than our shop for Albert Thurston suspenders to fit your needs. The label has stood the test of time, and its adherents know that the company name is as good as the gold hardware adorning its designs.

Tuxedo suspenders, distinguished as more formal than other suspenders, although no different in function, come in classic colors like white, black and navy, made from silk or other luxurious fabrics. All tuxedo suspenders, generally 1.5″ in thickness, feature buttons, since traditional tuxedo pants have interior buttonholes rather than belt loops to keep the appearance of trim classic lines.

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,
Photo of Caroline Shackelford

Caroline Shackelford

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