|Occupation type Clothing|
Competencies Sewing, tailoring
|Activity sectors Retail|
Behind the bowtie the story of a modern haberdasher
A haberdasher is a person who sells small articles for sewing, such as buttons, ribbons, zips (in the United Kingdom), or a men's outfitter (American English). The sewing articles are called haberdashery, or "notions" (American English).
Origin and use
The word appears in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Haberdashers were initially peddlers, thus sellers of small items such as needles and buttons. The word is thought to have no connection with an Old Norse word akin to the Icelandic haprtask, which means peddlers' wares or the sack in which the peddler carried them. If that had been the case, a haberdasher (in its hypothetical Scandinavian meaning) would be very close to a mercier (French).
Since the word has no recorded use in Scandinavia, it is most likely derived from the Anglo-Norman hapertas, meaning small ware. A haberdasher would retail small wares, the goods of the peddler, while a mercer would specialize in "linens, silks, fustian, worsted piece-goods and bedding".
Saint Louis IX, King of France 1226–70, is the patron saint of French haberdashers. In Belgium and elsewhere in Continental Europe, Saint Nicholas remains their patron saint, while Saint Catherine was adopted by the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers in the City of London.