White Stag (clothing)
|Products||Sport clothing, sportswear|
|Parent||Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.|
White Stag is an in-store brand of women's clothing and accessories sold by Walmart. Originally founded as a skiwear manufacturer in Portland, Oregon, the company was purchased by the Warnaco Group in 1966, which in turn sold the brand to Wal-Mart in 2003.
The White Stag company began as an offshoot of the Hirsch-Weis Manufacturing Company of Portland, Oregon, which made durable outdoor clothing and supplies worn by loggers, mill hands, and stockmen. Hirsch-Weis itself was founded when brothers Max S. and Leopold B. Hirsch purchased the Willamette Tent and Awning Company, a manufacturer of sails for deepwater ships, from E. Henry Wemme in 1907. The Hirsch brothers renamed the company for themselves and Harry Weis, Wemme's secretary, whom the brothers retained as a partner with the new company.
In 1929, Harold S. Hirsch, Max's 21-year-old son, returned to Portland after graduating from Dartmouth College, where he had been a member of the school's ski team. He began making downhill skiing apparel, starting with a ski suit, which Hirsch-Weis began marketing in 1931 as White Stag, from the literal English translation of the parent company's names weis and hirsch.
Company growth and acquisition by Warnaco
In 1956, reflecting the popularity of the sportswear line, Hirsch-Weis changed its name to White Stag. In 1959, the company modified a large animated sign on the roof of its downtown Portland building to include a stag leaping over an outline of the state of Oregon. For the 1959 Christmas season, a red neon "nose" was added to the stag's snout in imitation of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a tradition that has been repeated annually ever since. The White Stag sign quickly became an identifying landmark for the city, and it was designated a Portland landmark by the city's Historic Landmarks Commission in 1977. Its lettering was changed to advertise the Made in Oregon gift retailer in 1997, and in 2010 the sign was acquired by the city and its lettering changed again, to read "Portland Oregon".
In 1966, White Stag was purchased by the Warner Brothers Company, which later became the Warnaco Group. The company moved its operations out of its downtown Portland building in the 1970s and by 1986, had moved out of Portland completely.
The Warnaco years
In 1986, former Warnaco executive Linda J. Wachner engineered a $550 million hostile takeover of Warnaco and began streamlining the company. White Stag was reorganized with other activewear lines, including Speedo, into a new company, Authentic Fitness Corporation, which went public in 1992. The company grew through the 1990s, but saddled with debt from other acquisitions and mergers, Warnaco filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2000.
After Warnaco emerged from bankruptcy in 2003, it sold the White Stag trademark to Wal-Mart (which now does business as Walmart). Wal-Mart now uses the trademark on a line of women's casual clothing, footwear, and basic jewelry.
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