Now the height of fashion from catwalks to streetwear, varsity jackets can be traced all the way back to the 19th century at the prestigious Harvard university. In 1865, players from the baseball team started sewing a large H on the front of their jackets (at this point more of a woolly jumper than a jacket). Reserved for the best players on the team each year, they were a trophy of sorts. Now over 150 years later the varsity jacket is a global trend.
It would be at least 50 years before the jumpers would turn into jackets like the ones we know today. While the trend moved throughout American universities, the letter moved to where it is today: the left of the chest. Not only moving through universities, the bomber-style jackets started to move through America and eventually started to take off on the streets.
Those preppy elites of the 1800s could never have envisioned the musical styles that would emerge 100 years later, never mind their original style being adopted by everyone from Michael Jackson to NWA. Even Princess Diana was spotted in a Philidelphia Eagles bomber in the 90s. Preppy style was global: from the palace to the streets.
It seems that the varsity jacket is unstoppable. There’s not many fashions that have lasted since the 1860s (some came back: the hipster ‘tache for example). Not many have lasted since the 80s, although they’ve come back they have died away for a time as is the cyclical nature of fashion. The varsity jacket however, seems to have rode a wave over decades to be popular at any moment in time.
Today the varsity jacket isn’t primarily a university thing. Designers make their own: Adidas, Nike, BAPE, they’ve all made their own varsity jackets. The 2022 catwalks of London, New York, Milan, and Paris were all full of designer takes on the varsity jacket. Louis Vuitton and Off-White have both had plenty of collections dotted with varsity jackets.
With celebrities and fashionistas such as Rihanna and A$AP Rocky keeping the varsity jacket alive it seems like it’ll still be here another century from now. The Harvard baseball team are definitely all long gone but it’s not likely the varsity jacket ever will be!