The roots of the London Fog company began in 1923 when a savvy 16-year old named Israel Myers began working for the Londontown Clothing Company, founded in Baltimore, Maryland. Londontown went out of business during America’s Great Depression and Myers purchased the company name and remaining property. In a statement to the “Baltimore News American” in 1971, Myers shared that the fact that no jobs were available forced him to work hard and make his company a success.
A contract with the Navy turned things around for the company during World War II and Myers began making the waterproof raincoats that would eventually become the hallmark of his company. During this time the name of the company was changed to Londontown Manufacturing Company.
Myers continued innovating the raincoat and in 1954 marketed 100 “London Fog” trench-style raincoats for men to Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City. Ironically, Myers reluctantly agreed to the name London Fog but did not think it had appeal. The coats quickly sold out even though the price was twice the amount of the average men’s raincoat at that time. London Fog raincoats retailed for a whopping $29.75. In an article by the “New York Times” not only were the raincoats praised, but the name of the line was hailed as the perfect match for the product. Noticing that the raincoat was also popular with women, London Fog coats for ladies were soon made available.
In 1969 Israel Myer’s son, Jonathan Myers, took over the company. Jonathan continued his father’s tradition of innovation and refined the women’s designs to appeal to changing fashion. He also acquired a sportswear company, opened an outlet store and launched a new line of mid-priced coats under the brand name Clipper Mist. Within a decade, clothing, luggage, handbags, wallets, children’s outerwear, sunglasses and more were being marketed by the Londontown Company.
Other highlights of the company include becoming the world’s largest manufacturer of outerwear in the 1980s with the help of a wildly successful ad campaign and celebrity endorser Stephanie Powers. In the 1990s, London Fog opened stores in the UK and China and patented two proprietary fabrics. Today, London Fog products can be purchased from well-known retailers like Macy’s as well as in London Fog outlets. Vintage London Fog coats are popular and pricey in second-hand stores and flea markets where those who appreciate classic style shop.
Popularity of the brand and financial success has waxed and waned over the years. Ownership of the company has changed hands many times and in 1999 Bill Dragon Jr., head of the Pacific Trail company, became president and CEO of what is now called London Fog Industries. A general decline in the sales of outerwear and years of compounding debt challenge the company’s future. Regardless of what the future holds for London Fog Industries, it seems certain that Israel Myer would take a great deal of deserved pride in the endurance and breadth of a company that was so literally founded on the sweat and hard work of one man.