multi colored dressTanner Companies, the parent company of Doncaster, got its start in 1931 as the Doncaster Collar and Shirt Company, in Rutherfordton, NC. The founder, S.B.(Bobo) Tanner, Jr. and his wife Millie, named the company after the town of Doncaster, England – a favorite stop on their honeymoon tour, and famous for hosting the world’s oldest classic horse race. An unexpected opportunity in 1935 transformed the familiar shirt patterns of the Doncaster Collar and Shirt Company to the fashionable shirtwaist dress inspired by design developments in Paris. It was a call from the Junior League of Charlotte that introduced the idea of selling these fashionable designs through the Junior League organizations to raise funds for their various civic projects. With Millie as the stylist and Bobo’s established fine shirt making capability, Doncaster launched the original direct sales of high-end fashions.

The earliest dresses were sold through the women of the Junior League, an able and energetic sales force who were 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.

They began to grow and refine the business of selling beautiful, quality fashion directly to the consumer through a national network of “wardrobe consultants.” Although much has changed in the world of fashion since these early days, the Tanner Company remains true to the entrepreneurial spirit of those that sell Doncaster fashions and dedicated to delivering beautiful, quality designs to our customers. Through the Tanner foundation and our Partners in Caring philanthropic program, the company continues to support the local civic projects that benefit women and their families.