During the 70's the suit business belonged to Oscar Jacobson. Then the brand got old fashioned and out dated. Here's the story about one of Sweden's most genuine brands on their way back into the limelight.
By Henrik Malmberg | Interview | 2015-11-18
Oscar Jacobson is together with Tiger of Sweden one of the oldest Swedish brands and the two are actually founded the same year, 1903. While Tiger focused on suits Oscar Jacobson started manufacturing work wear clothes to the men around and in their hometown Borås. Just three years after the launch Oscar Jacobson’s revenue were around 19 000 USD, quiet a impressive number considering a dozen shirts were sold for 1,4 USD. The same year as the business flourished Oscars aunts husband, Johan Anders, retired from the company and Oscars brother, Carl, stepped in. The two brothers would now revolutionize the clothing industry.
The pioneering idea the brothers came up with was to start selling ready-to-wear clothes in different sizes. Before men in Sweden got all their clothes custom made and thanks to the new way of selling clothes the brothers could drop the price drastically. Oscar Jacobson were now selling suits cheaper than their competition and business was thriving.
To celebrate the success Oscar took the boat across the Atlantic to America and bought himself the classic black T-ford. It’s possibly that during his visit to America Oscar got to see what Ford was during in their factories. Because when Oscar got home to Sweden he changed the production for his clothes and introduced the assembly line. Much like the assembly line at Ford each and every sewer became a expert at a specific part of the production instead of sewing the whole suit by herself. This change lead to a much better quality and fitting of the suits and the business skyrocketed.
The Jacobson brothers were now riding the wave of success and did so for a decade ahead until the Second World War broke out. Oscar Jacobson struggled during the war but kept the brand alive and after the war they were aiming to go big once again. Oscar jumped on another boat heading for the US and the goal with the trip this time was not to bring back a car but instead a lot of inspiration on how to develop Oscar Jacobson as a brand. Oscar couldn’t wait to get started with everything he have learned when he got back from the US and he begun to market the well-tailoring within Oscar Jacobson. The brand was back on track and took another step forward when the Oscars son, Anders, took over the company. Anders had an eye for fashion and brought home luxurious fabrics like lamb wool and cashmere.
Anders were constantly looking for trends in fashion and during the 60’s he got inspired by the British fashion that had a slimmer look than Oscar Jacobson were used to. At the same time Anders started working with an English fabric manufacture called Reid & Taylor, a collaboration still thriving today.
During the 70’s Oscar Jacobson were dominating the suit business in Sweden. The downside with the superiority was that the brand got lazy. At least that’s Mats Pettersson, collection manager at Oscar Jacobson today, take on how the market slipped out of their hands.
– Oscar Jacobson dominated the market but they never renewed the brand and they got old fashioned. During the 90’s and the early 00’s most Swedish brands were aiming for a slim fit and black fashion while Oscar Jacobson still were making clothes for the 70’s and 80’s.
When Mats Pettersson took over in 2009 Oscar Jacobson basically just hade one fit for their suits and in the customers eyes the brand felt old. It was now Mats Pettersson’s job to change that image.
– I decided to working around the clear type of style, use a natural shoulder on the jackets and the vision for the jacket was to make it feel like a sweater. We also wanted to use wider lapels and we were inspired by the Italian fashion at it’s best. We developed two new fittings on the suits so we now had three and we were aiming to mix the pure Scandinavian style with the classic soft Italian shoulder.
Mats Pettersson and the rest of the team have worked hard on realizing their vision for the brand and the old Oscar Jacobson had now grown in to their new and younger suit. Today they are making some of the most well-sewn, well-fitted and most stylish suits in Sweden and are also working together with the exclusive Italian weaver Loro Piana. Mats Pettersson still thinks the strength within Oscar Jacobson lies in the heritage and their history.
– Oscar Jacobson is such a classic brand and it’s for real. It’s been around since 1903 and the knowledge within the company is enormous and that’s the reason why we are standing here today.
Oscar Jacobson is once again number one in the Swedish suit business and the goal for Mats Pettersson is clear.
– The vision is to take Oscar Jacobson abroad to other countries that hopefully will appreciate our style.
1. Navy blue jacket A must in every mans closet, you can match it with basically anything and the garment itself is timeless. 2. Quality shoes Spend a little extra money on your shoes, it's the most important piece of every outfit. You can easily ruin a good outfit with a pair of bad shoes. So spend a little extra on quality shoes and make sure to look after them so they stay as nice as when you first unpacked them from the box. 3. The right size on your suit To tight is not a good look and to step down a notch in size is not always the right thing to do. Ask whoever you are buying it from if they can do a few changes on the suit to make it fit better. 4. Big lapels Go for a jacket with big lapels. First of all, I think it's better looking and it also a more modern look to it than more narrow lapels. 5. Dark suit Just like the navy blue jacket a dark suit it's a must in every mans warderob.
Founded in: 1903 Main office: Borås, Sweden Number of employees: 52 Revenue 2014: 22 million USD Feature: Well-tailored suits with influence from Italy Favorite piece of clothing: Double-breasted jacket. Oscar Jacobson has one in a superb fit with nice and big lapels.
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