Motoluxe was established at the dawn of the automobile age to design and create products that would keep winter motorists warm, dry and comfortable.
In the early 1900s, motoring was a privileged activity and considered to be an outdoor sport. Most cars were open-topped, leaving the drivers and passengers exposed as they sped along tracks designed for horse-pulled carriages. It was therefore a necessity to wear protective clothing.
In addition to the essential hat, gloves and goggles, summer driving called for a long double-breasted dust-coat, or ‘duster’, usually made from durable cotton or linen.
During the colder months, the materials changed to heavy tweeds, leather and fur – and, in the case of Motoluxe, it was deep pile alpaca fur fabric. Motoluxe utilised the warm, lightweight material to produce coats and travel rugs designed for use ‘on land, on sea and in the air’ and branded them with a distinctive triangular label. A business named Schulte had begun to manufacture the woven fur fabric in Germany in 1901 and, within 12 months, fellow German company Steiff used the material to produce the world’s first stuffed toy bear.
In November 1902, United States President ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt joined a bear hunt along the Mississippi River. As the end of the day approached, the president had not made a kill. To remedy the problem, a group of Roosevelt’s attendants captured an American black bear and tied it to a willow tree. They called upon the President to shoot the bear, but he refused, deeming it to be unsportsmanlike. The incident became the topic of a political cartoon by Clifford Berryman in The Washington Post, and the story spread like wildfire throughout the US. Inspired by the episode, a Brooklyn candy shop owner produced a toy bear and was granted use of the President’s name to promote the product – which he named ‘Teddy’s Bear’. This was how the popular children’s toy was eventually christened.
Back in England, the woven alpaca fur fabric continued to keep motorists warm and comfortable well into the 1920s (efficient heating didn’t appear in cars until the following decade). At some point, given that they were made out of the same alpaca material, the fluffy double-breasted car-coats became known as Teddy Bear coats.
During the post-war years, the demand for Motoluxe products had reduced to the point where the business could not be sustained, and the company ceased trading. However, in 2016, following more than half a century in hibernation, it was considered time to reawaken the beast, and the Motoluxe brand was brought back to life. Naturally, Schulte was called upon to provide the materials from which a new generation of Teddy Bear coats would be born. Together with an extended family of unstructured alpaca sports coats, the Teddy Bear coat has laid the foundations for a modern collection of performance tailoring that is perfect for a contemporary lifestyle, and, of course, for travel – on road, on sea and by air.
MOTOLUXE 34 MONTAGU SQUARE, LONDON, W1H 2LJ +44 (0)20 7437 7007