The favourite workwear of France's agricultural workers will now be available in Britain. However, on the English side of the Channel the Le Laboureur brand will be promoted as chic leisurewear for the urban consumer rather than being targeted at the currently cash-strapped farming community.

The collection introduced to UK men's wear retailers at the recent 40 Degrees trade fair employs l00 per cent cotton drill, denim-styled chambray and corduroy - all fabrics selected on the basis of their hard wearing properties, says Le Laboureur.

Styling has changed little since the days in the early l950s when the company's founder Primo Zelani was still making the most of his sales by personally hawking his wares around street markets and country fairs. "And today this retro look is integral to its appeal," the company says.

From the early 70s, however, when the company moved into a purpose-built factory in its home town of Digoin, the range started to be sold through conventional retail outlets all over France - and to become one of the country's best known casualwear brands.

Despite its impressive success in a market previously dominated by American-inspired denim clothing, the company still remains a family enterprise controlled by descendants of its founder. In Britain, GSE Trading has been appointed official distributor.

By Sonia Roberts.