Bingley based clothing brand Damart SS24 fashion collection for comfort and style all year round

There is more to Damart than thermal underwear. As the Bingley-based pioneering clothing brand launches its new collections, Stephanie Smith finds out its past, present and future.

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Whenever there is a cold snap, sales of Damart thermal undergarments shoot up, especially in France. “People don’t say, ‘are you wearing a thermal vest?’ In France, they’ll go, ‘are you wearing your Damarts?’” says Alyson Taggart, director of product at Damart’s UK division, which is based in Bingley.

Here, at the Grade II-listed Bowling Green Mills on Lime Street, she and her team decide which Damart products are right for the UK market. Catalogues are created to showcase the selected ranges of underwear, womenswear, menswear, sleepwear, footwear and home furnishings. There are also marketing, e-commerce, customer services and HR departments – a total of around 600 staff, with the warehousing operation down the road in Steeton.

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Damart is a French company and its international head office is at Roubaix, near Lille in northern France, close to the Belgian border. It was named after Rue Dammartin, the street where it was founded in 1953 by Joseph, Paul and Jules Despature. The brothers already had a fabrics business there when they hit on the idea of making underwear using Chlorofibre, a synthetic spun and woven into soft fabrics with inbuilt wicking and isothermic properties. They launched Thermolactyl as a material to give warmth without bulk.

Blue geo-design jumper, £39.99, available now from Damart's SS24 collection.Blue geo-design jumper, £39.99, available now from Damart's SS24 collection.
Blue geo-design jumper, £39.99, available now from Damart's SS24 collection.

Paul’s son, Paul Georges Despature, is still involved with the business, having taken over management when his father and uncles retired, then becoming chairman and representing the shareholders, of which most were family. Since 2018, his son Jean Guillaume has been chairman, with Patrick Seghin chief executive officer.

Around 1960, Damart expanded to West Yorkshire, choosing an area already steeped in clothing manufacturing expertise and heritage. Alyson, who has a degree in French and is originally from Airdrie in Scotland, has worked in Bingley for almost eight years. Before that, she lived in Australia for four years where she was buying manager of young leisure brand Cotton:On, and she has also worked for K-Mart, New Look and other fashion brands.

“It’s all about the customer, not what age they are,” she says. “Damart is well established in France and has many retail outlets, the same in Belgium, whereas in the UK, the brand is mainly known for mail order. A key priority in the UK is awareness.

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“The main difference in France and Belgium is that the customers there will pay more. And we are a lot more casual. We don’t wear suits any more whereas, in France and Belgium, they still have the traditional trouser suit or skirt and jacket.

Floral printed cardigan, £45.99, available now from Damart's SS24 collection.Floral printed cardigan, £45.99, available now from Damart's SS24 collection.
Floral printed cardigan, £45.99, available now from Damart's SS24 collection.

“Also, the UK customer, we have found, she’s a bit more bold in her prints, more confident in what prints she likes, what colours she likes. France and Belgium tend to go down the navy, beige, more neutral route.”

In France, millions of thermals sell when the temperature drops, and also to the country’s many skiers. Sales also lift in the UK. “We have massively reinvested in our thermal area,” she says. “We’ve got thermals that are soft and kind to your skin, we’ve got feminine ones with lace, we’ve got all sorts of colours now, so they are not just your traditional white.”

But in the UK, Damart women’s ready to wear represents 60 per cent of what is sold, with customers loving the brand’s quality knitwear, trousers, shirts, dresses and more, all sold via online and the catalogues. Alyson says: “In Belgium, the customer can come in, she can touch it, she can feel it and see it. We have to work hard to make sure we can get it across in the catalogues.”

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Cotton stretch trousers come in three leg lengths and 10 colours. “We operate in multiple lengths and sizes. We go from a size 10 to 28. We give them a lot of choice,” she says.

The Damart UK HQ in Bingley.The Damart UK HQ in Bingley.
The Damart UK HQ in Bingley.

Damart makes its own thermal underwear at its factory in Tunisia, which works closely with the research and development team. Other products are made all over, in Turkey, China, Bangladesh, footwear from Portugal.

There is a new Climatyl range for spring/summer, designed in a combination of linen and viscose fabrics and cut for a cooler wear. “We are catering for peri-menopause, menopause and post-menopause. They can either wrap themselves up warm or be cool. They have the option to layer,” adds Alyson.

Evolutyl is the latest fabric innovation. “It regulates to your body temperature,” Alyson says. “If you go out of the house in the morning and it’s minus one, it regulates your body to a comfortable temperature. As the day goes on and you get a bit warmer, it constantly regulates.”

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Damart customers tend to be older, and loyal. “During Covid, the customer supported us all the way through. Most fashion retailers want to be younger and sexier, whereas we think our customer, to us, she’s lovely, she’s sexy enough. We want to offer more comfort.

Sweatshirt and track pants from Damart's recent 70th anniversary collection.Sweatshirt and track pants from Damart's recent 70th anniversary collection.
Sweatshirt and track pants from Damart's recent 70th anniversary collection.

“One of things we check is, can she pull it comfortably over her head, do her zip up? They want to be able to dress themselves comfortably, and when they have got it on, feel comfortable and confident.”


Menswear is a smaller offer and tends to be bought by women for their husbands, but there is huge potential. Homewares are doing well, as is footwear, which has five benefits, including removable insoles and arch support.

In November last year, Damart celebrated its 70th anniversary with a picnic with the Friends of Myrtle Park. Alyson says: “It’s French-owned but we see ourselves as a UK business. We employ a lot of people. It's a really important part of Bingley and Bingley’s history.”

For womenswear, menswear and underwear collections, visit and there is a factory outlet in Bingley at the HQ.

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