New Old Stock Underwear. Before They Were Jockey, They Were Coopers

For all you history buffs – did you know that Jockey brand underwear started off as Coopers?

We’ll get to the history lesson in just a minute, but before we do, I wanted to share news of the new-old line of Coopers-brand underwear from Jockey. For my international visitors check out out the Jockey by Coopers website for stockists near you. 

Note: For some reason you won’t find mention of the Coopers line on Jockey.com and I haven’t seen any announcements from the company about it. So, I’m not sure what the real deal is or whether or not this line will continue, but here’s information on the line nonetheless. I ran across this new line by accident when visiting Nordstrom’s online store.

Coopers by Jockey Product Line Details

Basic (with Outlast): This line is designed with the Outlast temperature regulation technology used in their StayCool line. It includes a brief, boxer brief, midway brief, crew t-shirt, and a v-neck t-shirt (I’m still confused why some manufacturers refer to these as t-shirts)

Stretch: 8-way stretch line that includes boxer brief, midway brief, crew neck, and v-neck. No specifics on the fabric content though. Kinda sounds like their 3D Innovation line.

Classics: 100% cotton, classic fuller coverage design. Includes traditional-rise brief, boxer brief, and classic crew neck t-shirt

Active: Moisture wicking boxer brief and midway brief. Assuming this has some poly or nylon in it

Boxer:  Relaxed full-coverage boxer

A little Jockey History Lesson

The founding Father: Samuel T. Cooper

1876: Driven by the soaring spirit and inventiveness of the pioneers, Reverend Samuel T. Cooper founded his hosiery company S T Coopers & Sons. Producing quality socks for the Mid-Western Lumberjacks who suffered blisters and other foot ailments. Little did he know his family would continue his pioneering ingenuity.

1890s: Samuel’s son Willis Cooper continued the entreprenerial streak which led him to create the “Black Cat” label. Under this banner, Coopers produced first class hosiery for men, women, and children.

1890s: Builing on the popularity of the “Black Cat” brand, the Cooper brothers Willis & Charles took the bold step and began producing underwear. This new direction was heralded by the creation of the “White Cat” brand

1909: Coopers revolutionized underwear with the new Kenosha Klosed Krotch Union Suit. Designed by Henry Cooper and plant superintendent Horace Greeley Johnson, the innovative design dominated the underwear market during the 1910’s and 1920’s.

Iconic "Man on the Bag" illustration by Joseph C. Lyendecker

1912: The Coopers Instinct for innovation let to the commission of famous illustrator Joseph C. Lyendecker to create a brand icon. The resulting “Man on the Bag” painting portrays and active, athletic figure reproduced on package and advertisements.

1934: The underwear industry’s biggest breakthrough, the iconic Jockey Short was created by Cooperss marketeer Arthur Kneibler. He received a postcard from the French Riviera, showing a man in bikini-style swimwear. From this unlikely inspiration, he changed the course of underwear history

1935: Proud of the expanding product range and keen to challange the public’s squeamishness towards underwear purchase. The tabletop display broke new ground, proudly displaying the range on the counter top, not hidden away in the stockroom.

1938: Never one to shy away from the limelight, this event received international publicity and is ragarded as the most dazzling single event in the history of underwear marketing. The “Cellophane Wedding” took place at the 1938 National Association of Retail Clothiers and Furnishers convention. The bride and groom appeard in transparent evening clothes with visible undergarments!

1940: Following on from the phenomenal success of the Jockey Short, the company commissioned Frank Hoffman to create a new brand icon. The ‘Jockey Boy’ statue became the personification of the brand.

Launched at a sales convention by a Hollywood actor dressed similarly to Hoffman’s figure. The actor walked on the statge, “I am Jockey,” he said, “I belong to the future…I am a trademark which will forever distinguish your name and your products. I’ll be seeing you in store windows all over the world”.

1947: Copied by other brands ever since, Coopers were the first to “brand” their revolutions new waistband. By embroidering the trademarks “Jockey” and “Y-Front”, they assured cutomers of quality and performance.

1961: To launch the Jockey Menswear collection, the “Half Jockey Boy” icon was created to accompany the “Full Boy” underwear collection. Jockey used this logo prominently not only on underwear but on jersey shirts, shorts, tenniswear and slacks.

Other Images

Jockey Cellophane Wedding
Jockey Display Innovation

9 thoughts on “New Old Stock Underwear. Before They Were Jockey, They Were Coopers”

  1. I have a vintage Coopers Jockey Shirt that is 25% wool and 75% cotton. Do you know what era it’s from? The tag has a small jockey guy in a red rectangle. it’s short sleeved with about a two-inch cuff.

    Reply
    • heya mo, thanks for your question!

      i’d recommend popping over to defunkd.com and emailing the main dude over there, jimmy.

      but, be sure to take a photo of the front and back of the vintage coopers (by jockey) care label, and send it when you email him.

      if you see a 4 digit number on the care label, or a number preceded with “wpl”, then it was likely made between 1941 and 1959.

      that said, jimmy would be a good guy to ask (:

      Reply
  2. I have worn Coopers Jockey briefs for many, many years. Those recently purchased are of very poor quality. After maybe 10 uses, the fabric has torn. Is it possible to purchase these with the original quality?

    Reply
    • heya jim — more than likely the only place you’d be able to get more of the original coopers brand undershirts from jockey, would be at either a clearance store, or possibly on ebay ):

      Reply
  3. Cooper V-Neck…love them but cannot find them anywhere. I last purchased them at Dillard’s last year but, they do not have them now. Called Norstrom and they no longer have them. No one knows why.

    Where can I purchase the Cooper V-Neck in XL?

    Reply
  4. Alas – as of April 2014 neither Dillard’s or Nordstrom’s list Coopers by Jockey on their websites. I suspect this is yet another example of Jockey’s marketing movement towards trendy and sports oriented products. Too bad.

    Reply
    • heya robert — you know, i kinda thought the coopers by jockey brand wouldn’t last very long. though, they have been available since 2011, so that’s too terrible.

      i just never heard anything about them after posting that article. my gauge to whether or not something is likely to stay around is the amount that people are talking about the product — on a regular basis — not just some flash in the pan media coverage.

      lots of stuff can get initial media attention, but the question is whether or not it can survive over the long-haul.

      so, about 2.5 years for coopers by jockey.

      that said, i’m pretty big fan of jockey — they make very nice products that are reasonably priced. i like their brand image too — maybe not some of their celeb stuff — but the core brand.

      Reply
      • No need to reply but I am glad I stocked up on these while I could. Am wearing Cooper’s Midways today. – BD

  5. Gentlemen,

    I am very happy to see the return of traditional Coopers/Jockey underwear styles. I recently purchased C/J Midway briefs (Dillard’s Direct) and find them extremely comfortable and well-fitting. I would also very much appreciate Cooper/Jockey, ankle-length “Longs” brought back. Since my youth I have enjoyed wearing long underwear. Finding light to medium weight, cotton long underwear is becoming increasingly difficult outside Canada.

    Reply

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