Doncaster got its start in 1931 as the Doncaster Collar and Shirt Company in Rutherfordton, NC. The founder, S.B. (Bobo) Tanner Jr., the son of a wealthy Southern textile manufacturer, and his wife Millie, the daughter of a successful mid-Western farmer, named the company after the town of Doncaster, England, a favorite stop on their honeymoon tour.
The Doncaster business, as we know it today, evolved from an unexpected opportunity in 1935 that transformed the familiar shirt patterns of the Doncaster Collar and Shirt Company to the fashionable shirtwaist dress. It was a call from the Junior League of Charlotte that introduced the idea of selling these fashionable designs through this organization to raise funds for its various civic projects. Doncaster launched the original direct sales of high-end fashions, with the earliest dresses being sold through the women of the Junior League, an able and energetic sales force who was in contact with a large network of women. They were some of the city’s most prominent citizens; women of elegant taste and independent means who were giving their time and energy to support projects of importance. As women in other cities began to hear of these Doncaster fashions, mostly by word of mouth, the interest in wearing them and selling them spread quickly across the United States.
By the early 50’s, Bobo and Millie’s sons, Bobo, Jimmy, and Mike, entered the business which continued to grow. The Tanners became acutely aware of the value of “personal service” that in-home shopping offered the customer. They focused their efforts on pursuing this unique business strategy and set their sights on refining the business of selling beautiful, quality fashion directly to the consumer through a national network of Wardrobe Consultants.
In the early 80’s Pell Tanner, son of Jimmy, joined Tanner as the leader of the next generation. During this time, Pell worked side by side with Bobo, Jimmy and Mike to build the Doncaster brand to the viable and productive company that it is today. As Pell assumed his leadership role as CEO he began developing and implementing the blueprint that continues to move Doncaster successfully into the future.
Although much has changed in the world of fashion, Doncaster’s unyielding dedication to elegance and style continues to be the driving force behind its brands. The New York-based design team develops four distinctive collections a year exclusively for Doncaster, using the very finest fabrics from around the world and drawing inspiration from both contemporary trends and timeless classics.
Doncaster remains true to the entrepreneurial spirit of those who sell Doncaster fashions and is dedicated to delivering beautiful, quality designs to customers. The level of service provided by a Doncaster consultant coupled with the quality, styling and fit of the clothes, allows the company to offer its clients a premier product and a highly personalized shopping experience.
Doncaster also maintains a retail division comprised of outlet stores based predominantly in the South.