History of the Varsity Jacket

History of the Varsity Jacket

The letterman jacket is one of the most iconic pieces of historical apparel around. Each year, it's reinvented by countless brands and never seems to fall out of fashion. Every high school and college seem to have their own varsity jackets, including HBCUs.

In the mid-19th century, the Harvard baseball team needed something physical to distinguish its best players. In 1865, they adorned their thick knit sweaters with the letter H. The uniforms were called lettermans and were sported by the best performing players on the team. In 1875, Harvard's football team adopted the letterman uniform, carrying on the best players only rule. This exclusivity made these jackets symbols of prestige and hard work, and people loved them. By the 20th century, letterman jackets had transformed from the thick knit sweater into cardigans and heavy leather and wool jackets. Due to the way in which they were earned, they were referred to as varsity jackets.

Now, varsity jackets are a pinnacle of fall fashion, with brands like Coach and Saint Laurent joining in on the trend. While the athletic exclusivity has worn off, the pride of wearing a varsity jacket from a school still exists. At colleges, donning a varsity jacket still means you're an athlete, which is no small feat. Students will recognize and acknowledge that, too. Plus, letterman jackets have style longevity. Even after graduating, repping your alma mater with your varsity jacket is still cool. This is one of the many reasons we've created our Sportsman Varsity jacket.

We love school traditions, and the Sportsman Varsity jacket perfectly represents that. We've taken the leather and wool design of lettermans and put our own Tradition spin on this classic look. Our line of jackets features a number of HBCUs, all designed with each school's logo on the left chest. Made with cotton and fleece, our durable Sportsman Varsity jacket is designed with a ribbed collar, waist, and wrists for a neat and classy appearance. The pockets are faux leather lined, adding a layer of sophistication to the jacket. The closures are snap buttons instead of a zipper—this way, the look remains prestigious and dignified. Every HBCU jacket features a Tradition emblem on the left wrist, so everyone knows your HBCU plug.

Our Sportsman Varsity jackets pay homage to a few things, with the first being HBCU pride. Although the letterman was created at a PWI, HBCUs have successfully taken this look and made it all their own over the years. Whether you're an incoming, current, or alumni student, wearing this jacket signifies your pride and respect for your HBCU. At Tradition, there are no best players—everyone deserves to sport this great jacket! This letterman makes a fantastic gift for yourself or a loved one. The more people representing our illustrious HBCUs, the better!

If you have any questions about our Sportsman Varsity jacket or would like to see your school included in our apparel, please contact us and we'd be happy to help you.

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