Jantzen began as the Portland Knitting Company, founded in 1910 by Carl Jantzen and John and Roy Zehntbauer. In the first years of the company, they produced mainly heavy wool sweaters, gloves and socks. By 1918 they were making a very popular unisex swimming suit, and the company changed its name to Jantzen Knitting Mills.
In 1920, a logo was added to the swimming suit – a diving girl in a red swimsuit. This became the Jantzen trademark. As styles changed, so did the red diving girl, and the style of her suit can be a hint as to the age of the garment.
In the mid 1920s the Jantzen girl donned her cap and stockings. In the 1930s-40s the figure became more streamlined, her swimsuit became a bit shorter and the stripes are gone from the legs. The Jantzen insignia logo is embroidered on the front of her suit in the 1930’s. In 1948 the logo insignia is gone and the Jantzen diving girl has become a bit more streamlined and her suit becomes strapless.
Through the 1920s and 1930s, Jantzen refined their basic swimsuit into the modern bathing suit. Swimwear continued to be the most important part of their business, but in 1939 they expanded into foundations, and in 1940 they introduced a line of sportswear. During the mid and late 1940s, Louella Ballerino did collections for Jantzen. In 1954, the company again changed its name, this time to Jantzen Inc.
By the mid 1960s, the company developed their sportswear manufacturing. The company went public in 1970, and ten years later was purchased by Blue Bell. Jantzen still produces swimwear and sportswear today as part of Perry Ellis International, Inc.
Written by vintage-voyager.com and glamoursurf.com
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