The Story of DAKS and the Royal Windsor Horse Show

The DAKS International Pony Club Mounted Games Championship has been a highlight of the Royal Windsor Horse Show since its inauguration.

The original concept of this exciting event was that of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. As far back as 1956 he mentioned to the late Colonel Sir Mike Ansell, then the Director of Horse of the Year Show, that games based on the competitions run for the Cavalry Regiments would be ideal for the training and development of young riders.

The first official competitions were held in 1956, culminating in the Final for which Prince Philip presented a Perpetual Challenge Trophy. From that day the competition has been known as The Prince Philip Cup, receiving worldwide acclaim for its concept, excitement, and value to the participants.

The Prince Philip Cup requires courage, determination, and all-round riding ability on the part of the rider, and careful systematic training of the pony. Its object is to encourage a higher standard of riding throughout The Pony Club; and was aimed specifically at ‘ordinary children on ordinary ponies’.

It is thanks to the generosity and great interest in The Pony Club shown by one of Royal Windsor Horse Show’s oldest sponsors, DAKS, that this competition was first made possible here. DAKS, founded in 1894 during the reign of Queen Victoria, celebrated their 40th year of sponsorship in 2019 and today the name is synonymous with the Prince Phillip Cup at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. The riders competing take part in a huge range of different races, from sack races to speedy bending competitions, and always finish with the famous DAKS Stack.

A byword for classic, quality clothing steeped in heritage, DAKS designs are instantly recognizable for their timeless silhouettes and signature DAKS check. Mixing the best of iconic style with a modern twist, your DAKS pieces are as much at home on the streets of London as enjoying day out at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.

The History of DAKS

It was in 1894 that Simeon Simpson set up a business as a bespoke tailor in Middlesex Street in London when he was only 16 years old. Being at the centre of the garment trade, Middlesex Street was better known by its nickname “Petticoat Lane”. He was skilled at drawing straight lines and regular curves by hand, which coupled with his enthusiasm and creative sense enabled him to become an entrepreneur. He succeeded in the mass production of quality tailoring for the first time in the world and sought to produce ready-to-wear garments of high quality at the same standard as bespoke tailoring. He soon earned a reputation for “Simpson Suits” and Simeon was able to generate more and more sales outlets, throughout Britain and even abroad.

In 1934, Alexander Simpson, the second son of the founder Simeon Simpson, invented and introduced a completely new fashion: the self-supporting trouser. Alec, a keen sportsman, shared the irritation that golfers felt, when braces not only impeded their swing, but also caused their shirts to ride up. He solved the problem by introducing an adjustable waistband that eliminated the need for belts and braces, and small rubber pads sewn inside the waistband that held a shirt in place. Before this invention, belts or braces were essential for British gentlemen’s trousers. His invention was patented and marked a revolutionary change in the history of British men’s fashion. It came into use throughout the world, changing forever the conventional sports and formal trouser. At that time, a complete suit could be bought for 15 shillings. The new self-supporting trouser cost 30 shillings. However, Alec was confident that he knew his market. It is said that he commissioned 100,000 pairs ahead of the launch.

With the creation of the revolutionary new trouser line, Alexander Simpson and Dudley Beck, his trusted business partner and also a personal friend, began brainstorming over a suitable name. The name DAKS is generally accepted to have been a combination of the words DAD (after their much loved and respected founding father, the “Dad” of the firm, Simeon Simpson) and SLACKS (after the American word for informal trousers). It was also of all the names suggested the one the advertising agency liked best.

The success of the self-supporting trousers in the 1930s, allowed DAKS to replace existing styles and develop its business dramatically. DAKS made full use of the know-how of manufacturing menswear to start a womenswear business in 1937.