From Streets to Royalty: We Delve Deep into Kangol the Brand and Its Rich History

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Last Updated on January 31, 2022

Kangol is a well-known fashion name, but do you know what they’re famous for? This British company was founded in 1938 and has become a renowned fashion statement over the years.

The brand didn’t start as a fashion name, though. Kangol was created as a functional hat company to clothe the military, golfers, and workers. This is a far cry from the brand image the company currently holds!

Are you interested in finding out more about this brand? Keep reading for an in-depth exploration into the Kangol world.

What is a Kangol Hat?

From buckets to berets, Kangol has been the designer behind many popular hip-hop hats.

The first hat by Kangol was a functional beret intended for use in the Second World War. This piece was designed explicitly for workwear purposes, but by the 1960s, these berets were more of a fashion statement.

Fashion greats, like Mary Quant, worked with the brand to promote the hats. Eventually, notable names like the Beatles and Princess Diana embraced Kangol hats.

The original Kangol berets were made from silk, angora, and wool materials. In fact, it was these materials that inspired the Kangool name. K from silk, ANG from angora, and finally, the OL was taken from wool. This way, customers would always know a Kangol was designed with high-quality fabrics.

Kangol is also well known for bucket hats, especially throughout the hip-hop scene in the 80s and 90s. Though these hats were popular in black with a white logo, they also come in bright colors and graphic prints.

Timeline of Kangol the Brand and Its Evolution of Hats by Decade

Want to explore the Kangol brand through history? Here’s a timeline of all you need to know!

1930s

In 1938 the Kangol brand was created by Jacques Spreiregen. In the 1930s, Spreiregen realized conflict was rising, and soon there would be more demand for military berets.

The Kangol company was created in Northwest England, and soon Spreirgen has imported machinery from France. After some time, Kangol was named the major beret supplier to the British forces in World War 2. Their output was approximately 1 million berets per year.

1940s

In the 1940s, the British Olympic team wore berets (in 1948). Kangol’s beret production continued throughout this decade.

1950s

In 1950 the Kangol company opened a new factory to meet new demands. This increased the business’s profits, and Kangol became a public company in 1952.

Kangol increased its manufacturing output to 6 million berets per year, and their employees shot up to over 110 workers. By this point, the brand was using approximately 1 million pounds of wool per year.

The British army was still the primary customer, but Kangol was also exporting berets to over 45 different countries. In 1954 Spreiregen created the 504 cap, which was popular in the U.S.

In 1955 Kangol started the production of women’s hats, and the output of berets continued to rise steadily.

1960s

By 1960 the brand was producing between 45,000 to 50,000 hats per week. Kangol was also creating crash helmets, too around 4000 were manufactured per week.

In the 1960s, the national service was ended in Britain, leading to a drop in beret demand. This is where Kangol started exploring the fashion market. At this time, Sylvain Meisner was the director of Kangol.

In 1964, Kangol was actually the third-largest British seat belt producer, proving their versatility as a brand. A year later, in 1965, an additional factory in South Africa opened to cover the increased demand.

Famous 60s fashion designers Pierre Cardin and Mary Quant collaborated with the brand in 1966. This led to one-off designer berets and increased production in the headwear division.

1970s

Kangol held up to 40% of the UK crash helmet market in 1971, and the team was still producing seat belts too. In 1975 the brand made nearly 4 million hats, with berets still their most significant export. They won the Queen’s Award for exports in 1966, 1971, and 1978.

By 1978 Kangol was the largest hat manufacturer in the world.

In the late 1970s, the beret started gaining popularity in the New York African American community.

1980s

During the 1980s, Kangol saw a rise in popularity amongst hip-hop artists, including names such as LL Cool J and Grandmaster Flash. The brand worked with well-known milliner Graham Smith who designed a hat worn by Diana, Princess of Wales.

In 1985 hat sales in America released 4.8 million. This was also when the iconic kangaroo logo was added since many Americans had dubbed the brand “kangaroo hats.”

1990s

In 1995 Kangol started creating branded sportswear and shoes, diversifying their products and appealing to more markets. In 1996 their hats were making $40 million in sales, and their additional licensed products pushed this figure up to $100 million.

In 1996 Kangol relocated their factory to Panyu City, China, as British manufacturing costs were too expensive. In 1997, 5 million hats were manufactured and exported by year.

2000s

By 2000, Kangol was officially the biggest designer hat company globally. The brand was making over $100 million per year, but it was on the verge of bankruptcy. Business decisions and factory closures had to be made to keep this iconic brand alive.

Now

It’s the early 2020s, but is the Kangol brand still around? Yes! Kangol is still a thriving brand that offers fashionable berets, bucket hats, and beanies. The hat makers now provide different colors patterns, and they collaborate with artists to make sure their products appeal to the younger generation. One essential collaboration to try out is the Kangol x Alexander Wang collection.

Read: A Tribute to All Those 1990s for Both Men and Women

Who Famous Has Worn a Kangol Hat?

Since these berets are easily recognizable, many celebrities have become associated with popular accessories. One key celebrity known for embracing the Kangol beret is Samuel L Jackson, and this actor often rocks a plain black beret and looks great doing so.

Other celebrities that love a Kangol hat include Run-DMC, Missy Elliott, and supermodel Bella Hadid.

Is Kangol a Good Brand?

Kangol is a heritage brand with an impressive history. Like many other long-lasting fashion brands, this company started as a functioning brand that supplied workers.

If you’re deciding whether you should invest in this brand today, we say go for it! Kangol still uses high-quality materials, and they have good manufacturing standards. If you’re looking for a hat that will stand the test of time, Kangol is a great brand to buy from.

Where are Kangol Hats Made?

While a portion of Kangol products is made in China, Kangol is proud to state that some of their hats are made in England and the U.S. In 2016 Kangol moved a lot of production from China to Pennsylvania, U.S. Note that some pieces are made in China.

Are Kangol Hats Still Cool?

In the last five or so years, we’ve seen a resurgence of the bucket hat. Inspired by music and pop culture, Gen Z has embraced the many styles of a bucket hat, including the well-known Kangol pieces. Whether you prefer a minimalist bucket hat or one with a loud print, they are still cool today.

The classic Kangol berets are an example of a hat that will never go out of style. A black beret pairs with any outfit for a sophisticated style.

5 Top Tips on Wearing a Kangol Hat

Want to try the Kangol hat trend? Here are some top tips to make sure you rock a Kangol hat well.

  1. Pair a black Kangol beret with a 1960s miniskirt or pinafore dress for a vintage or retro look. Add some Mary Jane shoes and patterned tights for a mod look.
  2. If you prefer the 1990s hip hop style, opt for a bucket hat and wear this with a graphic tee or long-sleeved shirt.
  3. Another great way to wear a Kangol beret is with a headscarf layered underneath the hat. This adds detail and interest to your look.
  4. Kangol classic berets also pair well with dress shirts and suits, adding a different style element to the business casual wardrobe.
  5. A pop of color and a gold chain always mix well with a Kangol logo bucket hat.

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Summing up Kangol

Though styles come and go, Kangol has remained a hip-hop staple and an in-demand accessory. From berets to bucket hats, this brand has moved with the times and listened to consumers’ demands. This has ultimately been the trick that’s cemented their name in pop culture history.

What do you think of Kangol hats? Are you ready to jump on this hat trend? Let us know!