Kangol is a bit of a funny one… They are, or were, British made for a start and even the civilian berets very much resemble the military ones, with a small diameter, the leather or synthetic headband with string, ventilation holes in the side and the absence of the central "stalk" on most models.
These days, Kangol is back big time, thanks to the adoption by American rapper LL Cool J, but there is quite a history before this British brand was re-discovered in the
Kangol was founded in 1938 by Jakob (Jacques) Spreiregen in Cleator,
But let's first have a look at Jakob Spreiregen: Jakob was born in Warsaw of Jewish parents in 1893. Before WW1 Jakob flees the Tsarist regime (ruling
The pre-WW2 years are difficult for Kangol, trading at a loss due to the heavy investment for beret making machines. It takes till 1942, with General Bernard Montgomery leading the beret fashion charge, that the beret quickly rises in popularity and rapidly becomes the must-have item of late WW2.
With the rise of poverty following WW2, Jakob creates the no frills utility beret, which is an instant success with the people.
During and after the war, Kangol berets were the height of fashion. In the 1960s, designers Mary Quant and Pierre Cardin worked with the company, whose products graced the heads of the rich and famous, including the Beatles, golf player Arnold Palmer and later Princess Diana. The company also supplied uniformed organizations such as the Scout Association.
In the 1980s Kangol berets entered a new phase of fashion history with their adoption by members of the hip-hop community, such as Grandmaster Flash, Run-DMC and LL Cool J. The release of more consciously stylish products in the 1990s such as the furgora (angora-wool mix) Spitfire, was helped by its presence upon the head of actor Samuel L. Jackson in 1997.
Kangol has been owned by Sports World since 2006, when they acquired the brand from private equity fund August Equity Trust. Licenses to manufacture and sell Kangol apparel have been sold to many different companies including D2 and Topshop. The global rights to Kangol hats have been held by American hatmakers Bollman Headwear since 2002.
It was announced in February 2009 that Bollman were reviewing their worldwide operations, putting 33 jobs and the future of the Kangol head office in Cleator in doubt. On 6 April 2009, it was announced that the original factory would be converted to a warehouse and only 7 employees now remain employed at the company's original site. However, hats will continue to be made at their sites in Eastern Europe and the