In 1976, Orvis was the first company to bring the popular British moleskin trousers to the USA. That year, a fellow by the name of “Dig” Diggory of Cambrian Fly Fishers in Wales had insisted I take a look at trousers made of this extraordinarily soft cotton fabric that possesses a felt-like hand, blocks wind, and endures hard, outdoor use.
Dig, an eccentric if ever there was one, called his moleskin trousers “ratcatchers,” named for the 19th-century farmers who favored the trousers for their toughness and comfort. These farmers used Jack Russell Terriers to catch rats around their grain bins, and often wagered to see how many rats would be caught. As the trend toward more casual attire grew, “ratcatchers” caught the eye of estate owners and sporting gentry. Soon, the trousers acquired the up-market name of “Moleskin.”
When we introduced moleskin to the United States in 1976, they became a huge success. Today, they continue to be one of our most popular cool-weather trousers. Moleskin fabric may have been popularised (and cheapened) by others along the way. But we have honoured Dig and the heritage of this wonderful fabric by insisting it remain made to the original exacting quality specifications, by the same British mill that has been in existence since 1901. Our moleskin remains as rugged as ever to withstand the challenge of the land, with the comfort and soft hand fit for gentry. -- Perk Perkins, President, The Orvis Co.