A Chorley company has fought its way to becoming a heavyweight winner in the world of pants.
Suzi Wong, based in Adlington, designs fightwear for boxing’s biggest names including Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe and Amir Kahn.
With decades of experience under its belt, it is flying the flag for British manufacturing – and Chorley too.
Designer Melissa Anglesea’s parents John and Susan set up the business 12 years ago from their home, after John was asked to put a brand name on a pair of shorts. Deciding the quality was too poor, he took them home to Susan, who made her own in her conservatory.
Melissa, 26, said: “We started off from home with two workshops at the back. What we do is unique. Everything is in house and everything is British made.
“Boxers come here and I sit down with them and design something. They can see the fabric, and they can see something made in front of their eyes.
“Every business is getting behind the Portas Made in Britain thing, and that is about what we do.”
Melissa studied design at the London College of Fashion, gained experience on Saville Row and designed gear for the Ministry of Defence, before returning to the family-run business.
She said: “Our reputation is massive, and we have never advertised. The best advertising is by word of mouth.
“We are becoming bigger and better, and learning all the time.”
The reputation means first-class boxers often drop in. Melissa said: “We made all Ricky Hatton’s shorts, and shorts for Joe Calzaghe.
“Last week we sent stuff out for Chris Eubank’s son.
“People come here when they fight for world titles, and when we design a pair of shorts we make two, so they can sign one for us. We are boxing fans. There is always someone here.”
Melissa says her passion for quality means the recession hasn’t affected their business, which has been going for 12 years.
She also says she is always looking for new ways to create something special to wow the boxing crowds, which can sometimes mean a wacky design.
She said: “The recession hasn’t touched us. The people who have been touched by the recession are the people who have mass marketing and bulk buying.
“Everything we do is British. We don’t outsource anything. I’m doing new designs all the time, and it’s just about trying to mix it up for people.
“Fashions in boxing come and go, like everything else. At one point, everybody likes normal, plain satin like Mohammed Ali used to wear. Then that will go out and it’s something else.
“We come up with some crazy designs sometimes.
“People will come to us saying they want to look like a tiger, or a leopard. We have been doing it for long enough not to ask any questions!”