Letterman Jacket History



The Letterman Jacket (Varsity or Award jacket) as many know it today, with its iconic capital letter on the front of the chest. But what some may not know, it was the original Baseball jacket.





American Universities and Sport’s Teams first introduced athletic wear in the mid-1800s. They started with the use of colour matching shirts and pants, eventually carrying their team colours as well as team logos and names.

In the early 1900s, the Letterman’s Jacket appeared. Many say that Harvard University was the first to create the Letterman style jacket after the popularity of the jumpers/sweaters. The traditional jacket had leather sleeves and a wool body, it was noted that some of the earlier models included leather which went over the shoulder portion of the jackets too. In the 1930s the “Letter”  started to appear on the front these jackets.



In the 1950s a Company called Phoenix Lettering started embroidering “Chenille” labels. This technique is the raised three-dimensional lettering found on traditional Letterman jacket, as opposed to the iron or stitched which came later. 


The Students name was embroidered on the left pocket, the year of graduation on the right pocket. The right sleeve would showcase the sport or activity that was learned by the wearer. Team players always had the varsity “Letter” sewn on the left chest, over the heart, to show loyalty to the team






The 1950s Reversible Letterman Jacket



Modern-day versions can be found in Nylon, some still go for a pretty penny, especially the ones dated in the year of the changeover.