Among the hustle of London’s Soho quadrant sits DM Buttons. Set in between Berwick street and Wardour street is D’arbly street. Down to the end of a long mews, which backs out of a variety of fabric shops and restaurants running down each side – a non-assuming sign leads you into a basement workshop.
Here you’ll find David Miller – a third generation button maker, craftsman and proper Londoner.
DM Buttons story starts in the early 1900s. The name has changed in that time but the roots of their industry is very true to how they started out.
Above the current premises a shop started with the newly arrived Millers (of Russian Jewish decent) working in a two part shop. At the front, David’s father’s Aunt and husband, set up a button hole making workshop, which was shared with his grandfather (her brother) and son (David’s father) who made flat caps for the 20s London gent. Selling in outlets predominately based around the East-end of London (Brick lane, where his father was born and raised). After some time the shops converged skills but focused mostly on the button side of things.
David’s father went onto work their and then the same happened a generation later he started helping out at age twelve at weekends. Servicing tailors, costumiers and other fractions of the clothing industry – and thankfully continues to do so until this day.
Moving through into 70s, with the lease running out on the original premises they moved underground to the space directly below them, which prior to them moving in had been an illegal dance hall and bar for after-hours 60s Londoners looking to get another drink once the licensed watering holes had closed their doors.
During the 80s David, now finished at school and able to work alongside his father, developed the range of products and finishes that they could offer – establishing them further as one of the lead button related businesses in London.
The premises uses predominantly (now very sought after) Reece machinery that date back to as early as the 1880s, showing that their craft and machinery in turn is about quality and does not necessarily age as other types of technologies develop.
Till this day, whenever I visit, I get the sense that this place is somewhere you have to be told about; a secret between friends, designers and makers – which is the way I came across it several years ago. The door bell rings with people walking in and out asking for one button hole, a set of covered buttons for a suit or a complete finish on a range of jackets – as I did. This business has a real story behind it and is the sort of place that there isn’t many left of in a world of mass produced garments and sub-standard finishing.
Their heritage and quality is why I’ve chosen to use them to button hole, eyelet and rivet my Scott Fraser Collection utility jackets.