At the end of the 19th Century, a Jewish refugee from Tsarist Russia named PM Quas-Cohen settled in Manchester. With finance from a short-lived partner named Wilks, Quas-Cohen began a company to manufacture men's clothing under under the brand name "Aquatite". As the company grew, manufacturing operations were also established in Bradford and Galashiels. During the First World War, Cohen & Wilks were seconded to manufacture uniforms for The British Expeditionary Force.
From the 1980s, casual wear and children's wear began to form the mainstay of Cohen & Wilk's manufacturing business. Today the firm is one of the main names in the character licensed apparel market, supplying a wide range of retailers that includes Marks & Spencer, Sainsburys, Next, Debenhams, and John Lewis.