Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

125 years of Jaeger

Here's my piece in the Telegraph on Jaeger's 125th anniversary

Jaeger was for women who wanted sophisticated, quality clothes – the tweed suit and little black dress – but who could not afford to go to Paris. Its flagship store on Regent Street, opened in the 1930s, was a cathedral of plate glass and chrome modernism. Like Viyella and Windsmoor, it occupied a middle-class niche. The ideal customer was the wife of a home-counties stockbroker. Self-made men and their spouses (like my parents) aspired to Jaeger, the next best thing to a Savile Row suit. From 1956, when Jean Muir joined the company, the label started to attract a younger clientele. Muir was one of several British contemporaries, including Mary Quant, who were beginning to move away from Parisian couture towards what would become the archetypal British fashions of the 1960s, more casual and more geared to what was then called 'sportswear’.

As a teenager in the 1960s I was caught between Carnaby Street and Jaeger’s innovative label, Young Jaeger. My mother was always guiding me into its Liverpool branch offering to pay for separates modelled in the advertisements by Jean Shrimpton and photographed by David Bailey. They were urban and chic, more Yves Saint Laurent than Granny Takes a Trip, an antidote in her mind to the hippie excesses of the velvet bell-bottoms and Afghan coats I was wearing. Young Jaeger, she believed, would put me on the path to adult smartness. And it was difficult not to covet Jaeger in the 1960s because it gave provincial young women (and men) a scent of sophistication.


phyllis said...

Ralph Luaren using Jaeger as his business model - that's an astute observation and I agree with it. Ralph Lauren takes his design cues from mostly American "public domain" clothing types (the barn jacket, the twin set, cowboy boots) and elevates them to a more refined design aesthetic.

lilysue said...

I told my mother there was an article about Jaeger (in the last few years I have been buying the occasional Jaeger item or items for work) and she told me that HER mother had a coat that she always refered to as "My Jaeger coat" so that for a long time afterwards Mum thought that any camel coat was called a Jaeger coat. It was lovely to see what you said about the genesis of this - after about 70 years the incident made sense!