The Mullen brothers have broken into the upper end of the British shirt market with garments made in Dublin.

Probably most famous shirt-maker on London's Jermyn Street is Turnbull and Asser, where bespoke shirts can cost £80. Many customers became dissatisfied with the shirts on offer in Jermyn Street, considering them to be overly expensive. 

Spotting a gap in the upper end of the London shirt market, Irish brothers James and Peter Mullen established Thomas Pink in 1984. This Irish firm produces a custom made equivalent of the same quality at a snip of the price. Thomas Pink shirts sell for £35, at least £15 cheaper than their nearest Jermyn Street rival.

The Mullen brothers’ father is a shirt manufacturer in Dublin and Thomas Pink shirts manufactured in his shop the Skerries Shirt Company Limited in Blackrock, County Dublin.

Thomas Pink shirts are special because they utilise a particularly fine cotton poplin with a shiny lustre on the fabric and mother of pearl buttons. The shirts have long tails, usually have double cuffs and soft collars with removable stiffeners.

The unique trademark of a Thomas Pink short is the pink triangle, a gusset which strengthens where the front end meets the back.

We've seen people pulling theirs out or dropping their trousers to show each other that they have been buying their shirts in the right place.

Thomas Pink have five shops in the United Kingdom, three in London, one in Bath and one in Edinburgh. They are considering opening in Paris and New York and would like to open in Dublin if the market is there. Due to a mail order facility the company has global customers and these include Melvyn Bragg, Billy Connolly, Jeffrey Archer and John Cleese.

The brand name Thomas Pink has a backstory that makes it easy to remember. The company is named after Thomas Pink, an 18th-century tailor in Mayfair, London who specialised in expensive, well cut hunting coats.

If you were able to afford to go to Mr Pink you were considered to be in the pink.

This episode of ‘Head to Toe' was broadcast on 19 January 1990. The reporter is Barbara McMahon.