Samuel T. Cooper

po_Cooper-Samuel1Jockey International, Inc. is a manufacturer, distributor and retailer of underwear, sleepwear for men, women, and children. The company is based in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Jockey is known for having invented the first men’s Y-Front brief in 1934. Jockey is a recognized trademark in 120 countries.

Jockey was originally named Coopers Inc., and was founded by Samuel T. Cooper in 1876 as a hosiery business. Cooper began the business when he learned that lumberjacks were suffering from poorly constructed wool socks. In 1900, Cooper began making undergarments. Although business was good enough to merit expansion in 1902, by 1934 Coopers Inc. was nearly bankrupt due to hardships caused by the Great Depression. The company recruited Harry H. Wolf, Sr., to restructure the company.

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On January 19, 1935, during a blizzard, Coopers Inc. sold the world’s first briefs at the Marshall Field’s State Street store in downtown Chicago. Designed by an apparel engineer named Arthur Kneibler, briefs dispensed with leg sections and had a Y-shaped overlapping fly. The company dubbed the design the Jockey, since it offered a degree of support that had previously only been available from the jockstrap. Jockey briefs proved so popular that over 30,000 pairs were sold within three months of their introduction. Coopers, having renamed the company Jockey, sent its Mascul-liner plane to make special deliveries of masculine support briefs to retailers across the US. In 1938, when Jockeys were introduced in the UK, they sold at the rate of 3,000 a week. Later they were to acquire the Formfit-Rogers underwear line of Chicago. In 1982, Jockey introduced the Jockey For Her line of intimate apparel and underwear.