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James Dean from the film Rebel Without a Cause wearing a Harrington jacket.
James Dean from the film Rebel Without a Cause wearing a Harrington jacket.

A Harrington jacket (originally known only as a Baracuta jacket or a G9) is a lightweight, waist-length jacket made of cotton, polyester, wool or suede. Designs often incorporate traditional Fraser tartan or checkerboard-patterned lining.[1]

History

1950s Harrington jacket designed as workwear for truckers. Note the external pockets similar to an ike jacket.
1950s Harrington jacket designed as workwear for truckers. Note the external pockets similar to an ike jacket.

The first Harrington-style jackets were claimed to be made in the 1930s by the British clothing company, Baracuta.[1][2] Baracuta's original design, the G9, is still in production.[3] The British company Grenfell, previously known as Haythornthwaite and Sons, also claims to have invented an identical jacket around the same time based on their golf jackets which is also still in production using their own signature cotton. The Harrington from either original source is based on lightweight, roomy jackets worn to play golf hence the G in the G4 or G9 naming convention for Baracuta. Both versions were originally made in Lancashire, England. Baracuta originally manufactured their jacket in Manchester whereas Grenfell were based in Burnley then London.

Popularity

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Elvis Presley popularized the Baracuta G9 in his 1958 movie King Creole. The jacket got the nickname "Harrington" from a character in the 1960s prime time soap opera, Peyton Place.[2] The character in question, Rodney Harrington (played by Ryan O'Neal), is often depicted in a Harrington jacket. It is often claimed that British menswear retailer John Simons christened the jacket originally on a tag casually when for sale in his shop with its name based temporarily on the TV character.

Steve McQueen, James Dean and Frank Sinatra were photographed wearing Harrington-style jackets in films and their personal lives. In the US, the McGregor produced Drizzler jacket was an alternative jacket in the same design. The lower-cost version by Van Heusen was also highly popular in the mid 20th-century era within the US though it is no longer produced. This is also true of a version by London Fog.[citation needed]

The jacket was seen on visiting USA servicemen after World War II and was adopted as a light, modern jacket by the emerging style-conscious American greaser youth culture during the 1950s and 60s, being a fashion piece of rock 'n' roll fans. In the U.K during the late 50s and early 60s the jacket became a style piece amongst the teddy boy and rocker culture of whom had watched the American movies featuring greasers such as rebel without a cause, and had adapted the style to the U.K. When the mod scene became more casual and widely adopted, the jacket became popular amongst those identifying as part of that style subculture and was adapted into the music they listened to such as modern jazz. When guitarist Eric Clapton felt that The Yardbirds blues rock band he played in was becoming long-haired hippie and foppish, he cut his hair short, wore a classic Harrington and rolled-up jeans inspired by the USA casual greaser college look he had seen on USA servicemen when visiting his mother in Germany. This look was seen on TV in July 1964 and is referenced widely as a key subcultural style moment prior to his leaving the band. The jacket became part of the post Mod wear as that scene became increasingly casualised and stripped down in its mid-1960s later adoptees wearing more polo tops and t-shirts with the jacket, eventually becoming and drifting from mod and becoming scooter boys. This look became known informally as the 'Peanut' and was part of the progression towards the early skinhead look. This trend carried the adoption of the jacket on through the scooterboy and skinheads, including their short-lived Suedehead later smart incarnation.[citation needed]

The jacket became fashionable in the United Kingdom in the late 1950s & 1960s among rockers, teddy boys and mod subcultures who had adopted it as a USA jacket broadly seen in popular media and were largely unaware of its British origins. They enjoyed a resurgence in the 1970s and 1980s with skinheads, rockabilly revivalists and mod revivalists, as well as old and new fans of Northern soul and scooterboys which had both evolved in part onwards from the original Mod scene as specialist areas of focus that became their own subculture. Within those subcultures, Harringtons are often, though in no way exclusively, worn with Fred Perry or Ben Sherman shirts.[2] By the mid-1970s it may be seen more with bowling and polo shirts than its original wear, this was due to revivalism of new styles mixing fashions.

Its adoption was carried onwards by Punks in the late 1970s, fans of Indie rock in the 1980s and 1990s. A further revival of the jacket was associated with the mid-1990s rise of Brit Pop with it worn by Damon Albarn of Blur, Oasis and other bands. Britpop style combined Mod fashion with casual sport streetwear. Following the Britpop revival the jacket featured prominently in a light blue version worn by the lead character Gavin played by Matthew Horne on Gavin and Stacey in British BBC TV during the late 2000s. The jacket is an enduring style staple, seen regularly on Mod punk rock artist Paul Weller through his career and worn by such as the actor Martin Freeman who is a Mod style advocate following the original American modern jazz styles. Inspired by such as Paul Weller, Liam Gallagher of Oasis co-founded menswear label Pretty Green based on 1960s style originally which includes their version of the Harrington jacket. The jacket has been the most worn piece shared by almost every subculture, from greasers, teddy boys, rockers, mods, skinheads, punks, scooterboys and to even this day by new fashion followers of youth blending vintage with modern. It will forever remain a fashion piece amongst youth culture and evolves with the times forever standing.

In France, HARRINGTON has been a registered trademark since 1985.[4] though in key markets such as UK, USA and Japan the term 'harrington' is used by many companies.[citation needed]

References

  1. ^ a b "Harrington Jacket & Baracuta G9 Guide". Gentleman's Gazette. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "The Baracuta G9 Harrington : Guide to Baracuta Jackets". Atom Retro. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  3. ^ Evans, Jonathan (25 September 2015). "One of the Most Iconic Jackets of the 20th Century Is Now Available in Leather". Esquire.
  4. ^ "Service de recherche marques" [Brand Research Service]. INPI (in French). Retrieved 31 January 2017.