Quick Question: Are Varsity Jackets the New Leather Jacket?

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When my current favorite couple, Rihanna and A$AP Rocky, had a rare public date night in West Hollywood last week, they looked every bit the fashion icons (naturally). The baggy sweats they wore to Nobu were delightfully, unconventionally cool, but the standout piece for me was Rocky's mustard-yellow varsity jacket. It was a vintage piece — an actual 2003 jacket from an actual Catholic high school named St. John Vianney somewhere in the middle of New Jersey — but that only made it better.

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Image Source: Backgrid

After staring at the pictures for an absurdly long time (and setting up an eBay alert for "vintage mustard varsity jacket"), I realized A$AP Rocky wasn't the only one I'd seen wearing an enviable varsity jacket lately.

Varsity jackets have been popping up in luxurious versions on the international runways over the past few seasons — Burberry, Louis Vuitton, and Givenchy all have their own renditions that will set you back a couple grand each. The late genius designer Virgil Abloh designed the newest LV varsity jacket, but he had been creating them for his line Off-White for years. LA favorite Teddy Fresh did a Y2K-perfection version with their Looney Tunes collab, while Frame's collaboration with the Ritz Paris marked the hotelier's first foray into fashion.

It hasn't just been the designers pushing the varsity-jacket trend — celebs have been embracing the new It item too. BTS's J-Hope, K-pop idol and Instagram newbie, posted some 'fit pics of himself in the Cactus Jack For Fragment "Manifest" letterman jacket last week. Around the same time, "Euphoria" actor Jacob Elordi wore a Celine varsity jacket on "The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon," while SZA wore a bright red version on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" in December.

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Even Barbie got into the varsity-jacket fun with the doll brand's recent collaboration with Kith. And, yes — let me save you the Google — it did make a person-size version of the doll's varsity jacket, but it sold out instantly, so get ready to pay resale prices (about $2,800-$4,000, depending on your size) if you fall in love.

It's no surprise that fashion at large (and the streetwear crowd especially) is embracing the varsity jacket. It's built for swagger. High school lettermen — the literal "varsity" jocks that gave the jackets their names — have been wearing them as a silent reminder that they are the best at what they do. Varsity jackets are sartorial trophy cases — wordless reminders of triumphs on the sports field. It's that swaggering reputation that makes all-kill rappers the best customers of varsity jackets. Bless the stylist that put BTS's Suga in Supreme's New Era MLB varsity jacket for a profile in "Weverse" magazine (accessorized, rightfully so, with a crown and sitting on a throne). The Billboard-charting, Grammy-nominated rapper/producer/songwriter, who has over 100 registered songs credited to him by the Korea Music Copyright Association, earned that varsity jacket.

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— 방탄소년단 (@BTS_twt) August 30, 2021

Another perfect example of the GOAT allure of varsity jackets: JAY-Z's custom Hall of Fame version. When the legendary rapper/producer/icon was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in November 2021, he tapped Rhuigi Villaseñor (founder and creative director of Rhude) to create a jacket worthy of Hova. The final piece, with embroidering of each of his Grammy-winning albums down the leather sleeves, is a masterful homage to a once-in-a-generation career.

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Forget leather jackets and bombers — the new It jacket has arrived. Need some more inspiration? Read on to shop some of our favorite varsity jackets, and you can thank us later.

A Jacket as Bright as Your Future
teddyfresh.com

A Jacket as Bright as Your Future

Women-owned, LA-based line Teddy Fresh churns out sunshine in the form of streetwear. This jacket's ($160) saturated hue and hodgepodge mix of textures (corduroy, plaid lining, and checkerboard embroidery) should be chaotic, but the whole thing is pure delight — hidden tumbling teddy bears included. This jacket is an instant good mood.

Big Head-Cheerleader Energy
dollskill.com

Big Head-Cheerleader Energy

Poster Grl's take on the varsity jacket (Meet Your Match ($85)) is making us want to skip homeroom. The piece has all the hallmarks of a traditional high school varsity jacket — snap buttons, stripe details, etc. — but the embroidered patches and letterman graphics of "Fine AF" and "B*tch" make it subversive enough to sit at the popular kids' table.

For the Goths
farfetch.com

For the Goths

Rendered in stark black and white with a melting font, chains, and punk portraits from provocative NYC street artist Harif Guzman, the traditionally jock-wear jacket goes full goth thanks to Haculla ($1,095).

World Famous Original Chenille Patch
worldfamousoriginal.com

World Famous Original Chenille Patch

The best part of a varsity jacket is customizing it to your exact personality. World Famous Original has a fabulous stock of esoteric-but-deeply-relatable patches, including this "Someone you shouldn't have fallen in love with" chenille beauty ($12) — perfect for when you need to warn strangers just what they're about to get into.

The Heirloom
nordstrom.com

The Heirloom

Bold and graphic, Virgil Abloh's Off-White varsity jacket ($1,062) is an investment piece that will hang in your closet for the rest of your life. It looks as good now, in 2022, as it will decades later in 2072.

Attn., Pink Ladies
superdry.com

Attn., Pink Ladies

Lean into the nostalgic Americana-ness of varsity jackets with Superdry's nylon version ($120) that invokes "Grease"'s Pink Ladies' vibes.

Ultraglam
asos.com

Ultraglam

What happens when a varsity jacket goes black tie? Sequin-embellished sleeves and sleek, vegan leather will turn all the heads thanks to this ASOS rendition ($64, originally $91).