Your browser is no longer supported. For the best experience of this website, please upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Comment: Jaeger’s former brand director on where it went wrong

It is a sad day indeed to see the demise of Jaeger, which holds a special place in the heart of the British consumer, writes former brand director Shailina Parti.

Having worked at Jaeger for more than 25 years – from a young girl in the late 80s through to my role as brand director – I wanted to share my belief and passion for the brand.

Jaeger was founded in 1884 by Dr Jaeger, who advocated the health benefits of wearing animal fibres – a theory well ahead of its time – and clothed the explorer Ernest Shackleton on his expedition to the Antarctic. Wool and luxury fibres became synonymous with the Jaeger brand through the last 133 years.

Jaeger archive

Jaeger archive

Jaeger archive

Jaeger had the quality of understated confidence, which used to be known but rarely referred to as good taste. During my time there, I was privileged to work with beautiful fabric and innovative design, taking inspiration from the vast archive and working with passionate and talented teams to deliver unique style.

Wearing Jaeger – as I have done from the age of 20 – gave me a sense of individuality and made me feel great. It has always stood for good quality but never tried too hard, as summed up by the tagline “We don’t sell clothes, we dress women”.

Jaeger clothes were worn by movie stars and royalty, including Cary Grant, Vivien Leigh, Marilyn Monroe, Twiggy and Kate Moss. The brand achieved iconic status through campaigns photographed by Norman Parkinson and David Bailey, paintings by Raoul Dufy and illustrations by René Gruau.

Jaeger understood the importance of a logo well ahead of most luxury brands, developing its “straw” lettering in 1935. There was a point when this unique label appealed internationally and I would say even to this day many would aspire to own a Jaeger coat.

Where did it all go wrong? Global rivals arrived in the UK and, alongside rising rents and fierce competition, the downward spiral of promotional activity started to devalue the brand. The confidence to sell in the best locations, from Selfridges – where it was the first retailer ever to have space in the store in 1930 – to its iconic store on Regent Street, was no longer sustainable.

The challenge to drive profit margins may have compromised the product. During the tenure of [owner] Better Capital, the existing product teams were not required, but they were the heart and soul of the brand. They understood the customer and had the passion for it to succeed. A brand always needs a blend of those who stand by and protect the DNA that made it great and those who will embrace newness and move with the times.

Jaeger archive

Jaeger archive

Jaeger archive

Jaeger holds a special place in the heart of the British consumer. I remember all the letters I received and I know there are special pieces in the wardrobes of many men and women, who grew up with a brand that their mothers were excited by in the 1960s and was still the epitome of understated quality fashion in recent times.

What will happen to Jaeger I don’t know, but what I will say is that I feel privileged and proud to have worked for an iconic British brand that survived almost 135 years. Let’s hope there is a future…

Shailina Parti spent most of her working life at Jaeger, having notched up 22 years in her first stint before leaving in 2010 to join Monsoon Accessorize as design and buying director. She rejoined Jaeger as brand director in 2012. She is now buying and merchandising director at Jigsaw.

Tags

Readers' comments (3)

  • Private Equity and fashion retail do not mix well! Yet another iconic British Brand gone because of Private Equity ownership.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I joined Jaeger straight from University in 1970 as the company's first Head office graduate trainee. I had the privilege to work with Mme Soizic Gautier as Creative Director and David Watts as Head Designer - plus many more talented people. I was later promoted to Jaeger's first ever Marketing (as opposed to "advertising") role. Our advertising strap line was "Jaeger - Where Else?" and that was true - in our shops and stockists worldwide. We benefited from visionary leadership and investment from our textile industry owners - Coats-Patons (as it then was). We did lack real customer empathy, but we had such confidence and authority that we led, rather than followed, the market. All based on our heritage values of good design plus sumptuous and colourful natural fibres and fabric. With the benefit of that "early start" how did it all go so wrong? For me, it's like the death of a first love - truly heartbreaking.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Better Capital in the Parliamentive.tv.

    http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/7d220cdc-4d5b-42f9-be1f-b080f352d86e

    “There are too many pre-pack deals around. We need to enhance our morals and ethics in business in this country.”

    UK government should review insolvency laws to provide a more “ethical, moral and level playing field”, which gives all creditors access to information and the opportunity to have an input in the future of a company in administration.

    “Suppliers are often left with nothing and it is completely unacceptable,” “The law needs to change. It is affecting people’s jobs and livelihoods.”

    Is “increasingly difficult” for suppliers to do business with British retailers without running the risk of losing money due to firms falling into insolvency.

    César Araújo

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.