R & W H Symington & Co Ltd were corset manufacturers with their main factory in Market Harborough. They specialised in the manufacturing of corsets using factory-based, mass production techniques. The company was one of the first to use the Singer sewing machine in Britain. By the 1890s they were one of the leaders in their field.
Women wore corsets for a number of reasons. A corset controlled the shape of the body, moving it into the fashionable shape of the period. It also supported the spine and helped to ease the weight of the many layers of clothes that a fashionable woman would have worn. Western fashion emphasised the waist and a corset was used to make it appear smaller that it was.
One of their most famous creations was the Liberty Bodice, invented by Fred Cox, Marketing Director at R & W H Symington & Co Ltd in 1908. It was a fleecy knitted vest with rubber buttons, re-enforcing cotton tapes and buttons to attach drawers and stockings. The bodice helped to change the way that children dressed in the early part of the twentieth century.
You can read more about the Symington Collection on the Leicestershire Museum Collections website.