Jockey Brand History:
For more than 130 years, Jockey® has led the apparel industry by producing garments that connect with our spirit of adventure. Our legacy, based on ingenuity, vitality and authenticity, celebrates progressive and independent thinking. As a world-class brand, Jockey® continues to inspire a renewed sense of individuality and freedom in modern men and women across the world.
1876:Samuel Thrall Cooper founded S.T. Cooper & Sons, manufacturer of wool hosiery and predecessor of Jockey International, Inc., in St. Joseph, Michigan. Samuel Cooper started the wool socks business as a solution to the blisters lumberjacks were experiencing caused by poor quality wool socks. At the same time, he laid the foundation for Jockey's commitment today to quality and to "Satisfy the Human Need for Comfort".
1878: By this time the company had industrial knitting machines, boilers and engines to run them, a dye house, a yarn spinning operation, 90 employees and a modest brick building to house them all. S.T. Cooper & Sons was producing nearly 2,500 pairs of seamless stockings per day. By all accounts, S.T. Cooper & Sons was a success.
Samuel Cooper's sons, Henry S. Cooper and Charles F. Cooper, became major stockholders in Cooper, Wells and Co. The company moved ahead, sometimes by chance, but always with a sharp eye for new markets.
1897:The Chicago-Rockford Hosiery Company adopted the brand Black Cat, which became recognized across the country for first-class stockings and hosiery for men, women and children.
Willis and Charles Cooper continued to increase their financial share of the Chicago-Rockford Hosiery Company, and they moved the company into an ambitious new direction: Men's Underwear.
The Cooper brothers realized their dream and incorporated as the Cooper Underwear Company. While the brothers remained active with Chicago-Kenosha Hosiery Company and Black Cat hosiery, they rented excess space in the Chicago- Kenosha hosiery mill to manufacture what they branded as White Cat underwear. The Cooper brothers also began building a separate mill next door to the Black Cat mill.
The new Cooper Underwear Company mill for the manufacture of White Cat union suits was completed next door to the Black Cat mill. This location on 60th Street and 23rd Avenue in Kenosha, Wisconsin remains today as the longtime headquarters of Jockey International, Inc.
1912:The new Cooper union suit is branded as the Kenosha Klosed Krotch. By this time, the innovative Kenosha Klosed Krotch union suit had risen to the top of the underwear market. The design was patented, and the company sold all the union suits it could make and had to license other companies to manufacture the garment to keep up with the seemingly endless demand.
One of the Cooper Underwear Company's most significant contributions to the underwear industry in addition to underwear, was advertising. Henry Cooper was a pioneer in advertising. That year, Cooper hired Joseph C. Leyendecker, illustrator for The Saturday Evening Post, to create the "Man on the Bag" image, which became a staple of the company's brand identity. The "Man on the Bag" illustration is considered a classic American advertising image.
1928:Arthur Kneibler was hired by Cooper Underwear to head the sales and marketing team. Not long after he joined the company, he became known as the originator of one of the great milestones in the history of underwear, the Jockey® short.
1929:The Cooper Underwear Company, which had long used "Cooper's" in its marketing materials, changed its official name to "Cooper's, Inc.", reflecting more diverse product offerings while emphasizing its family origins.
Cooper's developed the Singleton. This was a more interesting new-style union suit with short legs and a sleeveless top. The Cooper's Singleton was packaged in cellophane bags - a first in the underwear trade - and this turned out to be a true selling point in modern self-service apparel stores.
1934:Mid-1934 Arthur Kneibler received a post card from a friend visiting the French Riviera. It showed a man in a bikini style swimsuit. A light went off in his head. Kneibler saw not a swim suit but underwear for the common man. Kneibler had been pondering something new and innovative in underwear, and this post card was the inspiration. The underwear industry's biggest breakthrough ever was born - the Jockey® brief.
In January 1935, Cooper's was ready to launch the Jockey® short. Chicago's popular Marshall Field & Company agreed to an elaborate display in the store and windows including posters and a full-size cutout in the window featuring a model wearing the seemingly risquè (for the times) garment. Jockey would definitely attract attention. By noon of the product's debut, the store had sold out its stock of 600 packages and, in the next two weeks, sold 12,000 more. This performance was repeated in many stores across the country. The Jockey® short became an instant sensation.
The Jockey® Y-Front® brief was invented later that year and became Cooper's hottest item. The Y-Front® brief become another important innovation in the history of underwear. The success of the Y-Front® brief enabled the design of Jockey products with longer legs – Jockey Midway® Brief.
1936:International markets began to express interest in the company's innovative products and Cooper's signed its first international license agreement with the J.R. Moodie company in Canada. That same year, European export agents began placing orders for Cooper's products.
At a retail convention in Chicago, Cooper's hosted one of the first Underwear Fashion Shows, featuring "The Cellophane Wedding." Always eager to challenge convention, but not good taste, Cooper's Cellophane Wedding demonstrated that the well-dressed man - with his bride at his side - had Jockey® underwear on underneath. Pictures appeared in every major newspaper and magazine across the globe.
Cooper's signed a license agreement with the Lyle & Scott Company in Scotland to manufacture cotton briefs and undershirts. Lyle & Scott implemented the Jockey selling program - fixtures, stride forms, size charts and sales booklets such as Cooper's handout entitled "Retail Selling Made Easy."
Also that same year, Cooper's signed a license agreement with MacRae Knitting Mills in Australia. MacRae had recently developed a brand of swimwear that itself was destined for greatness. The company's chairman, Alisdair MacRae, knew the look of a winning brand and was immediately ready to sign an agreement with Cooper's.
A Cooper's salesman invented a countertop dispenser to organize sizes and styles of underwear. It highlighted the array of styles for the retailer. The salesman commented, "Man, did that contraption ever sell Jockey® underwear." Cooper's quickly developed this fixture for distribution to retailers across the United States.
To protect and promote the Jockey® brand name, Cooper's commissioned well known sculptor and painter, Frank Hoffman, to produce the Jockey Boy image that symbolized pride in the brand.
Jockey was a champion on its way to becoming a legend. No claim was too great, including an endorsement from baseball's home run king, Babe Ruth. Athlete endorsements would remain an important merchandising tool for the company in years to come.
The Jockey® brand name was stitched into the waistband of the underwear for this first time. Jockey highlighted this industry first with ads stating, "Look for the Brand on the Band" - two famous trademarks - "Jockey®" and "Y-Front®."
While licensees in Europe thrived, Cooper's sought other partnering opportunities in South America and signed Licensee Agreements with companies in Argentina, Columbia and Peru.
Cooper's advertised in the first issue of Sports Illustrated magazine.
Cooper's introduced Jockey® Skants® briefs, the company's first foray into fashion underwear. Cooper's purchased its first TV advertising. The humorous spot was read live by Jack Parr on the Tonight Show.
Harry Wolf Sr., a prominent Chicago businessman, becomes president of Cooper's.
With international licensees in Australia, Europe, and South America. Asia was the next logical step. In 1960, Cooper's signed a license agreement with a key partner in the Philippines.
European licensees produced classic style briefs with a lower, more modern cut. The Jockey® Low Rise brief was born and became a huge success in Europe.
The Jockey® Half-boy trademark was introduced.
The next major step in modernizing men's underwear came in this year. With the success in Europe, Cooper's introduced the Jockey® Life® Low Rise brief in the United States. Within a few years, the "Jockey® Life®" line accounted for 25% of Cooper's business.
1972:The company changed its name to Jockey International, Inc. The newly named company would use its famous trademark to make its mark in sportswear and "activewear" designed for athletics.
1976:The Jockey® Elance® collection was launched and so began the company's long leadership in fashion underwear for men. Elance® garments were sold in innovative clear tubes that highlighted the colors and fashionable design of Elance® bikini and Poco® briefs.
1978:Donna Wolf Steigerwaldt, daughter of Harry Wolf, Sr., took the helm at Jockey International, Inc. This was the beginning of a new global age at the company. From the moment Donna Wolf Steigerwaldt introduced herself to the employees in Kenosha, she instilled confidence from top to bottom. She said she was intent on maintaining Jockey as a family company...and that she did.
1982:The introduction of Jockey for Her® made the most famous name in men's underwear the most comfortable name in woman's underwear. Donna Wolf Steigerwaldt sensed that women would appreciate the comfort of cotton. Her intuition was right - Jockey for Her® was a triumph.
Jockey developed the Life® brand for Wal-Mart. It found a prominent place in Wal-Mart stores as the premium underwear offering for the discount retailer.
Jockey launched the first generation of its Web site.
The popular "Let 'em Know You're Jockey" advertising campaign in Times Square coincided with the opening of a new showroom in New York's Fashion District.
Jockey® Sport is introduced with moisture management technology.
Jockey launched retail capabilities on Jockey.com®, which helped bring loyal customers to the most modern sales channel of all.
Debra Steigerwaldt Waller succeeded her mother as Jockey's Chairman & CEO, continuing the family tradition with the mission of translating that legacy into timely strategies that perpetuated and built upon Jockey's rich heritage.
Jockey embarks on a mission to develop underwear in an innovative new way, ultimately becoming the 3D-Innovations™ collection.
Jockey introduces the Swirl Icon™ which represents Unity, Renewal, Energy, Motion and Beauty.
The 3D-Innovations™ collection is launched around the world.
Jockey launched its first retail catalog.
Today, Jockey International, Inc. is a leading manufacturer and marketer of comfort apparel products sold in major department and specialty stores across the US. The products are also available in more than 140 countries around the world. Located in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the 137-year-old company is committed to quality, comfort, fashion, innovation and value. As Jockey grows in size and sophistication, the simple commitment to serve its consumers' needs continues to be the company's hallmark.