Reviving an American Classic
Through much of the 20th century, Jack Tar Togs ® was one of the classic American youth and sportswear brands. Combining durability and a sense of timeless fashion, Jack Tar Togs was all about the outside and sports, kids and marine wear. Beginning with sailor suits and tennis wear, the company grew into a brand found at most major department and specialty stores.
The brand was all about the outdoors; in an era of Frank Capra’s Little Rascals, the Jack Tar Togs look encouraged adventuresome youth play. Advertising in such magazines as The Ladies’ Home Journal, they showed fashionable women and youth doing practical and playsome things.
In the fall of 2018, we brought the brand back, reintroducing their familiar sailor dresses, and reinventing other sport, marine and youth clothes under the familiar Jack Tar Togs name. Based in Boca Grande, Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico, we are all about reinterpreting this marine heritage for a new generation.
We are still in the very early stages of re-launching Jack Tar Togs; check into our site frequently as we add products and refine our fashion line.
The idea of sailor suits for kids and youth began in Victorian times; it is said that Prince Albert of Britain dressed his family in sailor suits that mimicked the enlisted sailor suits of the Royal Navy. The idea was not only to promote the Navy and support them, but to provide outdoor clothes that looked good during leisure time.
Jack Tar Togs, first sold in 1916, became one of the great Roaring Twenties brands; as tennis grew and youth culture blossomed in the U.S., its sailor suits became de rigueur at country clubs across the U.S.
Humorist and author Irvin S. Cobb (1876-1944), author of dozens of books and over 300 short stories, wrote ads for Jack Tar Togs. The images for the brand were first rate; illustrations for national magazines in the 1920s were by artist Howard Chandler Christy, who at the same time painted First Lady Grace Coolidge, in a painting still in the White House. Christy is also known for his painting in the U.S. Capitol, Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States.
At the time, the company’s slogan “Rub ‘Em, Tub ‘Em, Scrub ‘Em” became a catch phrase. The “tub” idea came from the idea that the clothes, even dresses, could be quickly and cheaply washed in a tub, and not ruined. In 1922, a promotion in the Saturday Evening Post labeled Jack Tar Togs the “Clothes that made young America Free.”
Noted Advertising Campaigns
The manufacturer was celebrated for its enlightened methods, allowing civilized lunch breaks and building a factory that welcomed natural light. Early promotions of the brand were devised in the old Drovers & Merchants Bank Building by legendary Baltimore adman Joseph Katz, with illustrations by Anthony “Tony” Sarg. Sarg was the genius puppeteer and illustrator who brought helium filled animated balloons to Coney Island, and invented the idea of giant inflated puppets for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. His animated films have recently been preserved by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
In 1952, the American Visuals Corp produced a Jack Tar Togs comic book with their Jack Tar mascot called The Adventures of Jack Tar. American Visuals was the company of comic genius Will Eisner; his comic for Jack Tar Togs was one of many for corporations, though Eisner was better known for his The Spirit.
Jack Tar Togs was known for product innovation and durability; back in 1953 Popular Science featured their “magic cotton cloth” that allowed a person to float. Ads in Boys Life showed a wholesome, handsome look for their products. At mid century, a number of great clothing companies sold sportswear including Russ Togs and Sun Togs.
Found Again & Anew
By the 1970s, the brand had almost completely disappeared; it failed to keep up with modern trends, though they were trying out new fabrics by Stevens, and other innovations.
The current company rediscovered Jack Tar Togs after seeing the brand advertised on a wall in a Cracker Barrel restaurant; the ad showed a youth in a Navy-style shirt, with their famous slogan.
The new Jack Tar Togs does not aim to copy what was, but reinvent the brand for today, with the best from the past.
Ideas or history? Email Founder Alice Blum Pollard at email@example.com.