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Kangol Turns 70

From importing Basque berets in the 20s to collaborations with Mary Quant and Comme des Garcons and infiltrations into the music world, the iconic hat celebrates its 70th birthday.

From berets to b-boys and LL Cool J to Samuel L. Jackson, the iconic Kangaroo logo that adorns all Kangol products has endured through numerous cultural movements and this year its staying power is celebrated after reaching a landmark 70th birthday.

Though far more known for its connection to the 80s and 90s New York hip hop scene, the origins of the brand hail from a million miles away. The company’s founder Jacques Spreiregen originates from 19th Century Poland and after immigrating to the UK in his early 20s, he began importing the popular Basque beret and during the depression era, eventually established his own factory in Cumbria. The brand was named Kangol after the abbreviations of its primary materials (silk, angora and wool) and whilst it gained interest by supplying berets for military use in World War 2, it wasn’t until the label was embraced by the music and fashion icons of the 60s that it was fully integrated into the fashion world and became stylish.

Kangol embarked on collaborations with Mary Quant and Pierre Cardin and was endorsed by Arnold Palmer and The Beatles, but as the decade came to a close the brand cracked America and was immortalised by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Cliff and Curtis Mayfield. But whilst the company enjoyed moderate but sustained success it wasn’t until the street kids of 1970s Brooklyn made the Bermuda bucket one of the style icons – along with adidas shelltoes, dookie chains and hi-top fade hair cut – of the burgeoning hip hop scene that it truly entered social consciousness. It firmly remained there as hip hop went mainstream during the 90s and underwent a new resurgence as the epitome of street cool when Samuel L. Jackson wore the ‘504’ throughout Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown and continues to do so that the timeless item is almost always associated with the actor.

As the company embarks on its eighth decade, the British style staple will no doubt stay true to its roots; classic, timeless and always cool.