By and  on July 27, 2009

Jockey International is marking the 75th anniversary of the first men’s brief called Jockey Shorts, as well as the launch of the new Jockey logo for the event.

The 133-year-old underwear specialist, which distributes to over 120 countries, kicked off events and promotions for its signature brief in two countries in February: New Zealand, where Jockey’s international distributor arranged a horse race at the Ellerslie racetrack in Auckland that featured six of New Zealand’s top male and female jockeys racing in Jockey briefs with no pants, and a 13-city history of underwear tour in Spain with retailer El Corte Ingles. The tour runs through November and includes Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, as well as stops in Portugal.

Officials at Kenosha, Wisc.-based Jockey said plans are not finalized for anniversary promotions in the U.S. or other countries. However, the company is planning to celebrate the anniversary of the invention of the brief in multiple U.S. cities, using live and Web-linked events, and a widespread media relations campaign. There will also be an anniversary bash at Jockey’s headquarters for its employees, and a party at the sales and design offices in New York.

Jockey has come a long way since it started out as a maker of socks and hosiery by Cooper’s in 1886, and has created memorable moments in underwear history, including the “Klosed Krotch” union suit in 1909, the Y-Front men’s brief in 1935, specialty underwear developed for the NASA Apollo program in 1963, Jockey for Her undies introduced in 1982 and the launch of the seam-free No Panty Line Promise collection for women in 2001.

This year, the company, which generates estimated wholesale sales in excess of $300 million in women’s and men’s, introduced two new products: Jockey Minis for women, a sexy line of undies that ride high on the derriere, and 3D-PhYsique, a technically advanced line of men’s underwear that features structured zoning and directional lines for a sculpted and toned look.

“Internationally, we’ve got good partners,” said Ed Emma, president and chief executive officer of Jockey. “Spain has been very successful for us. We have the number-one market share in India and there’s still a ton of potential there. China is the same way. We haven’t really tapped the full potential of wholesale and retail there.”

Regarding newness and innovation, Emma said it is “absolutely critical” during a tough economy.

“For long-term growth, you have to mix research and development and have the ability to develop something that will have meaning and growth potential for years to come,” he said. “The brief is the paradigm here. The minute briefs were displayed in the windows of Marshall Field’s, they sold out in a snowstorm. The real win-win is when you develop something that consumers love, and they hopefully can’t find anywhere else, which leads to long periods of success and growth. That’s the Holy Grail for us.”

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