It’s safe to say collegiate apparel really took off when varsity jackets were introduced by the Harvard University baseball team in 1865 to highlight the team’s star players. Now the timeless jackets are 150 years old. Harvard baseball players had sewn the old English letter "H" onto the team's grey flannel uniforms. Ten years later Harvard’s football team followed suit and began embroidering the same letter on their uniforms. By 1891, the nine man baseball team regularly wore black sweaters with a crimson "H" embroidered over the left chest, which led to cardigans.
Although commonly worn by high school and college students to represent school and team pride, varsity jackets trace their origins to “letter sweaters,” pullovers that had a large centered letter with a star indicating a team captain. Thanks to Japanese photographer, Teruyoshi Hayashida, American Collegiate style hit the media in 1965 and boosted its popularity of the sporty, iconic jacket and fashion staple.
The traditions of sporty college fashion have been kept alive with a modern-day twists as seen on the runway today. The boys back at Harvard back in the 1800's can be thanked for paving the way for endless fashion houses to recreate this classic staple, again and again.
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