Aitken&Niven was established as a "gentlemen's tailors of distinction" in 1905. The workrooms, at Queensferry Street and Rose Street, were busy with cross-legged tailors. The first few years proved to be successful for the store, continuing to trade through the First World War and expanding into ladies' tailoring and military service uniforms.
Aitken&Niven managed to survive the Great Depression of the 1930s and fabric rationing during the Second World War, when many contemporary stores went out of business.
In 1943, William Ferguson, a senior salesman at the store, suggested that Aitken&Niven introduced a school uniform department. This suggestion shaped the company's future and William was made a partner, marking the start of three generations of management by the Ferguson family.
Aitken&Niven moved away from Queensferry Street into 79 and then 77 George Street, continuing its traditional approach to service and expanding into sportswear and sports equipment.
79 George Street, Edinburgh (1958-2004)
2001 saw Aitken&Niven open a new flagship store, warehouse and office in Morningside, Edinburgh, moving out of George Street entirely in 2005.
Following the retirement of managing director David Ferguson, a grandson of William Ferguson, Aitken&Niven changed ownership and became part of Stevensons, another family-run school outfitter, based in England. Another grandson of William, Richard Ferguson, works with the company to this day as the main contact for all schools that are outfitted by Aitken&Niven and Stevensons in Scotland.