Jaeger 125 was commissioned to document the past and present achievements of this dynamic British fashion brand in the year of its 125th anniversary.
Extraordinarily, and possibly uniquely, Jaeger’s history has been ensured by successive generations of dedicated staff who have meticulously packed away and carefully preserved documents dating from the original catalogue (1884) to next season’s fashion look book.
This is the story of an international company as revealed by its archive: many thousands of items, each individually selected by Jaeger’s own staff, to inform future eyes. Successive catalogues; a hand-written order placed by the explorer Ernest Shackleton, now a little faded and rendered brittle with the passage of time; newsy staff magazines offering personal insights into the operations of a large company; press cuttings recording external evaluations; representations of Jaeger’s clothing by top fashion illustrators such as René Gruau; photographs by Norman Parkinson and David Bailey; witty Xmas cards and the occasional object – a gleaming medal awarded to Jaeger at the International Health Exhibition in 1884 and a single tabi (divided toe) sock knitted in fine, undyed wool and stamped ‘The Jaeger Co Limited’ in blue ink. Intriguing and inspirational, this massive body of predominantly paper media material survived intact through company relocations and two major world wars. Jaeger presented the archive to Westminster City Archives in 1984, its centenary year.
The contents of an archive are inherently idiosyncratic and the researchers’ journey of discovery somewhat serendipitous. (We will never know what was discarded over the years …). Jaeger 125 reflects the archive’s dominance of material from the early avant-garde years and the 1930s, the decade in which Jaeger became an established international fashion company. It reveals how Jaeger has consistently identified and commissioned talented modern illustrators, artists, architects, designers and photographers to design, market and merchandise its product. The creative reworking of the company’s signature letter ‘J’ and company logo are amongst the many narratives which weave through the book.
Jaeger 125 is arranged thematically to highlight the company’s creative and business achievements, which are inextricably entwined with its world- famous name:
J – Dr Jaeger
A – Animal Fibres
E – Evolution of a Fashion Brand
G – Graphics
E – Everyday, Evening and Resort
R – Renaissance of a Fashion Brand 2003–2009