Jaeger is an English fashion brand and retailer of menswear and womenswear. Traditionally known for a classic ‘twinset and pearls’ image.
British businessman Lewis Tomalin established Jaeger as ‘Dr Jaeger’s Sanitary Woollen System Co Ltd’ in 1884, capitalising on a craze for wool-jersey long johns inspired by the theories of German scientist Dr Gustav Jaeger. Jaeger’s writings about the value of wearing animal fibres (not cotton) next to the skin had attracted fans, including George Bernard Shaw. It had received its first Royal Warrant by 1910. Many explorers, including Ernest Shackleton, wore woollen undergarments.
Jaeger began creating wool suits, and by World War I, it had cut its associations with Germany and become a British brand. Long johns for British and Commonwealth troops kept the company going during the war, but by the 1920s, it had switched to fashion. The company’s flagship store opened on Regent Street in the 1930s and attracted a solid clientele who wanted British-made garments at prices that were not as high as Savile Row or the high-end couture brands.
The clothing was modelled by Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s. Natural fibres remained central to the brand, the camel hair coat was a Jaeger invention, and it also utilised other exotic woollen fibres such as cashmere, angora and alpaca. Jaeger’s yarns were also popularised via knitting patterns in the 1940s.
Health vs. Fashion
During the twentieth century, a movement arose that advocated for clothing to be worn as part of a sensible, healthy lifestyle rather than only for fashion. These concepts sprang from the work of nineteenth-century fashion reformers, in the same way that English writer Edward Carpenter popularised the open-toed leather sandal for men. Individuals who felt fashion was a distraction from life’s more significant challenges expressed their sympathy with these garments, which became a major statement of social belief.
Using the same logic, Dr Jaeger, a German-born designer, created a new open-weave fabric for undergarments that promoted health. A broader line of clothes using the same name was commercially successful, earning a reputation for practical, well-made, and durable outdoor apparel.
Inevitably, Jaeger looked to the broader tradition of similar clothes; hence, the tweed suit, such as 1929, made of woven Scottish cloth, presented itself as hardy and valuable outdoor complement. Jaeger is still a well-known brand today.
McDermott, C. (1997). 20th-century design. Carlton.
Wikipedia contributors. (2022, July 23). Jaeger (clothing). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 05:52, July 24, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jaeger_(clothing)&oldid=1099889991