New York, 50s. One of Munsingwear seller sees a flock of penguins in a window of a taxidermist. He goes in and buys one of those stuffed birds. The bird later becomes the mascot and logo of one of history’s greatest sports brands.
Munsingwear was originally a company devoted his days to make underwear and supply the military with clothes. But after the story of penguin and the launch of the first golf shirt – “55” – the company became a pillar and pioneer in the sportswear industry.
Interest in the brand went down well into the 80s, and was then not much noise until 2001 when Chris Kolbe, along with Perry Ellis, decided to relaunch the brand. Manolo.se took a snack with Kolbe, Original Penguin current manager:
What was your vision when you chose to relaunch the brand in 2001?
– The vision was to build on a loss of sensation, and create a sport collection rooted in classic American style to meet a new lifestyle and attitude of men and women.
In the beginning was the Penguin very much associated with golf, which customers can be found in your stores today?
– Considering the Penguins heritage, you see a great mix of customers. But it is common in a similar appreciation for life as Penguin represents – casual garments that are unique. Just like the golf lifestyle in the 50s.
You’ve flagship store in New York and Miami, how many Penguin Shops can we expect the next five years? How big can you get?
– In October we opened our fifth Penguin Store in the United States. We now have stores in New York, Miami, Dallas, Newport Beach and now Los Angeles. The response from the market has been incredible, so we see great opportunities to continue to expand both here in the US but also in Europe, at the right time.
What feeling do you want Original Penguin shall stand for?
Can you describe the design process, from concept to production?
– Every season the design team inspired by a lot of different sources – movies, music, books, icons, both fashion-related and non-fashion related, anything that allows them to tell our story for the season. The teams [for men’s and women’s collections] are working very close together in every phase. Everything from choosing the fabrics and color palette, to the final decisions on the details and fit. The garments are manufactured in countries around the world where they offer the best expertise for our market.
What does the fall / winter collection like?
– Autumn 06: A mixture of tartanmönstrade pants, slim fit denim, fine striped knits, along with a classic replica of a fifty century cardigan.
The new silhouettes consists of cotton / cashmere blends classic Harrington Silhouettes, jackets with silk fitted seams and casual jackets.
If I were to buy a garment from the collection which I would buy then?
– A classic winter favorite: cotton / cashmere sweater
What is your vision for Original Penguin’s future?
– We hope to expand our market opportunities for Original Penguin. Primarily through new business opportunities that will allow us to expand in areas that are looking for something new and unique.
You can find Original Penguin at Grandpa in Stockholm, or on the Web at Tres Bien Shop.
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