Since the 1960s, the Harrington has been the king of jackets. The calling card of effortless cool. Every actor and musician of distinction has turned to this style staple at some point in their career, and it’s easy to see why.
For this week’s Last Word, we examine the history of the Harrington, the famous faces who’ve buttoned one up over the years, and how you can work it into your look.
The history of the Harrington jacket
During the 1930s, the Miller brothers were experiencing great success manufacturing high quality rain jackets from the rain capital of England, Manchester. With time, the Miller’s decided they could cut out the middleman and sell their wares themselves.
Their production work had been very fruitful, and they were able to afford membership to a prestigious Lancashire golf club. However, when the weather took its customary turn for the terrible, the long waterproof macs they were used to making weren’t conducive to a good game of golf.
Spotting an opportunity, the Millers got straight to work on a short, waterproof, zip fastened jacket which would keep golfers dry without influencing the quality of their swing. As is often the case, from a practical application, a style icon was born.
A tartan lining was soon added, but it was in the early 50s when the golf jacket was first exported to the USA that things really took off. The golfing elite across the pond instantly took the golfer jacket to their hearts, and it was soon a mainstay on courses up and down the States.
Who has worn the Harrington jacket?
It was in 1956 that ‘the golfer’, as it was then known, hit the mainstream. The moment king of cool James Dean pulled on a red golfer for the leading role in the classic ‘Rebel Without A Cause’, its position as the must have garment in the US was confirmed. Two years later, a certain Elvis Presley pulled on a golfer in the movie King Creole, again showing the golfer to be the choice of the most influential men in the worlds of music and film.
It wasn’t until the 60s until the Harrington as we know it today got its familiar moniker. Another star of the time, Ryan O’Neal, starred in a soap called Peyton Place as the character Rodney Harrington. An Ivy League dealer in the UK started to market the golfer as the Harrington, and the rest, as they say, is history.
While Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin were huge fans of the Harrington, it was Paul Newman who was the next big advocate of our favourite lightweight jacket. The most popular actor on the planet for the best part of a decade, Newman was rarely spotted without sporting one.
The British music world also embraced the Harrington, with Ben Sherman’s own early versions being especially popular. Pete Townshend of the Who was famously a fan, and the Jam’s head honcho Paul Weller regularly zipped up his own.