Kangol is a British (owned by Sports Direct) company that was founded by Jacques Spreiregen. It was after WWI, that he returned home and entered into the headwear business. His inspiration came from the Basque berets from France. The name itself is derived from the the letter “K” in silk, the “ANG” from angora, and the “OL” from wool.
By 1938, Spreiregen had opened a factory in England and ended up supplying the majority of the berets worn by officers during World War II. The beret was redesigned into what is now the most common Kangol cap style with stiffened materials forming a peak.
Kangol was further propelled into pop culture when the 1948 British Olympic team wore Kangol hats during the opening ceremony. Perhaps even more helpful were the collaborations with designers Mary Quant and Pierre Cardin.
The company scored big in 1964 when it obtained the sole right to make and distribute worldwide headwear which featured the image, endorsement, and/or name of the megastar musical group – The Beatles.
The mispronunciation of its name is what actually inspired the now famous kangaroo logo. Originally,
the company’s logo were crossed needles. The hats would often be referred to as “kangaroo hats” or “kangas”. When the company decided it finally needed a more permanent, easy-to-recognize logo – they opted to simply use the Kangaroo beginning in 1983.
During the 1980s, Kangol berets saw members of the Hip-Hop community adopting Kangol hats – the Bermuda in particular – into their affinties. Early rappers such as Grandmaster Flash, Run-DMC, LL Cool J, Slick Rick, Kangol Kid of UTFO all would be seen frequently in Kangol bucket hats and Bermuda Kangols. In the 1990s the furgora (angora-wool mix) Spitfire also made its way into popular eye shot. Kevin Eubanks, the bandleader for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, always had a Kangol beret on during the show’s recording.
Kangol has been under the owership of Sports Direct since 2006, after acquiring the brand from private equity fund – August Equity Trust. Licenses to manufacture and sell Kangol apparel have been sold to many different companies. However, since 2002 the global rights to Kangol hats have been held by American hat-makers Bollman Hat Company.