Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Parsons and Parsons dress hire firm closes doors for last time after 104 years

Parsons Hire faced increasing competition in recent years
Parsons Hire faced increasing competition in recent years

A formal clothing hire company that dressed Belfast's citizens for special occasions for more than a century has closed.

Generations of gents, graduates, grooms, best men, brides, wedding guests, débutantes and evening dress wearers will have walked through the doors of Parsons and Parsons.

But yesterday the landmark formal wear hire store in Wellington Place closed them for the last time after 104 years.

In 2007, Parsons and Parsons went into liquidation with the loss of 20 jobs.

Speaking at the time, the grandson of the founder of the store, Richard Parsons, said: "The closure of shops like Parsons & Parsons means Belfast city centre will soon look just the same as any other." However, the mecca for party-goers re-emerged later the same year as Parsons Hire.

But yesterday when the Belfast Telegraph contacted the shop, Parsons Hire confirmed it was their last day of trading.

Belfast's oldest traditional tailors said there would be no closing down sale and declined to comment any further.

The popular store has been one of Belfast's best-known clothing stores, offering expertise in a range of areas.

It specialised in weddings, formal wear, ladies, Highland and bespoke clothing.

Whether it was formal hire for a gala ball, a cruise or a formal, the hire store close to City Hall seemed to cater for whatever was needed. It stocked fine suits, waistcoats, dinner jackets and bow ties, as well as evening dresses, lingerie and kilts.

In addition to this it offered customers a tradition bespoke service, with specialist tailors creating jackets, suits, trousers or coats all crafted to customers' specifications – or waist size.

It also provided a service selling barristers' court suits and accessories.

One online review for the shop read: "Any time a man in my family needs a suit, he goes to Parsons. Synonymous for many years as the one-stop-shop for all things formal wear in Belfast, Parsons is good value for hiring suits, and for kitting out the whole group for a formal or a wedding.

"They also sell and hire out formal dresses for women too."

However, the shop faced stiff competition in recent years, with its 2007 liquidation coming just as Asda launched a range of £35 tuxedos.