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History of Letterman Jackets

You know what makes people look cool? Sunglasses, but if you are a more specific demographic of a high school, college or university and you want to show your classmates that you’re the most awesome one around then there is absolutely one way to do it and that is with a Letterman jacket.

Letterman jackets also called letter jackets and varsity jackets are these cool articles of wool and leather that you see those jocks around school wearing as they throw their high fives and steal your girlfriends, but when you look at the style of the jacket itself it’s really quite fascinating actually. I mean where did this idea come from, and why is it so trendy amongst students.

The history of letterman jackets can be traced back to the prestigious Harvard University in the late 1800s. The varsity letter, which is a large embroidered or chenille patch representing a student’s athletic or academic achievements, was first introduced as a way to honor outstanding individuals. These letters were initially sewn onto a plain jacket, which eventually evolved into the iconic letterman jacket we know today.

A quality Letterman jacket will cost between $200 – $300, and if you wanted to add custom letterman patches on your jacket, well that’ll be another expense. However, I think all this can be explained when we actually look at the history of the letterman jacket.

Let’s all go back to the year it all began in 1865. My history teachers told me it was a new-age thing, but it isn’t. So yeah, everything I found out about the history of the letterman jacket goes back to 1865 because apparently nothing else was going on at that time except the end of the civil war. It started off at Harvard, now we know why the jackets are so expensive. Apparently, being at Harvard wasn’t exclusive enough for the University Baseball team which began sewing an old English style H on their uniforms. The star players got to keep their customized uniforms while the players who did little but nothing had to give it back.

Ten years later the Harvard Football team started making jackets for their star players. The jackets spread to other universities and became fancier and as time went on more players gained access to the jacket itself while the star players wore extra chenille patches and stripes on their sleeves to show their exclusivity and achievements.

The first photographic evidence of Letterman jackets in a high school setting was in Phoenix Union High School’s 1911 yearbook. The now popular woolen jacket with leather sleeves was apparently introduced in 1930. The wool and leather style Letterman jacket have since spread beyond schools and universities and into mainstream fashion. The letter exclusivity has also diminished pretty much anybody on any teen club or performing group can get an official chenille letter for their Letterman jacket. Additional chenille patches are still kind of exclusive now for specific victories and achievements.

It’s kind of like wearing a trophy on you. They probably should have called it vanity jackets…. ok, that was a terrible joke.

Letterman jackets quickly gained popularity among other educational institutions, and wearing them became a symbol of pride and accomplishment. They not only represented athletic achievements but also academic excellence and participation in extracurricular activities. These jackets became an integral part of the American high school and college culture, fostering a sense of camaraderie and team spirit among students.

The most popular type of patch to attach on Letterman jackets is the chenille patch. So, if you are looking to order custom made chenille patches for your Letterman jackets you can fill out the quote form on our website and our sales representative will get back to you with a price quote.

Thanks for reading.