If you walk into a decent-sized hardcore show today, or take a peak through even the newest releases from young bands, you are bound to spot someone wearing a varsity jacket. While he could very well be a high school senior who is captain of the wrestling team and is wearing his alma matter's colors and letters as a badge of honor and accomplishment, that probably is not the case. More likely, he is wearing this jacket after seeing it being worn by other straight edge hardcore kids, or in records/photos (in reverse chronological order) of bands such as The First Step, Hands Tied, Floorpunch, Mouthpiece, Youth Of Today, Slapshot, and BOLD. Further, it might be totally plain. Or, it might say "STRAIGHT EDGE" on the back. Going a step further, it might have a band name on the back as well, or a city, or a state, and then the words "STRAIGHT EDGE." If you are Rob Fish in 1988, you may put a big X on the front. If you are Chris Zusi in 1990, you might wear this same jacket after trading a bagel for it. Regardless, this jacket is typically only worn by straight edge dudes. And it's an interesting piece of attire, and an undeniable little piece of straight edge "fashion," for lack of a better term. To me, it is actually kind of intriguing because it is such a major departure from punk fashion. It could be quite possibly the furthest thing from a leather motorcycle jacket or some torn up Lee jean jacket covered in patches...even quite the opposite from a flight jacket. Think about it: it is a jacket typically synonymous with community-driven team sports and mainstream youth athleticism. Maybe I am overthinking it, but it is just interesting that it makes absolutely no sense in the hardcore world, yet in the little niche of straight edge hardcore that is rooted in the mid to late 80s, it makes all the sense in the world.
So where the hell did this jacket originate in "our scene?" From a continuous, ongoing investigation, all signs seem to point towards Chris Smorgasbord Daily. If he wasn’t the first, he was definitely a close second. We went to the source. -Gordo
You must have some memory of actually getting your varsity jacket. As specifically as possible, when would this have been? Where did you get it?
I remember wanting it for a few months before I actually got it. I looked in sports stores all over Pennsylvania and Connecticut (I lived in CT but had family in PA). I ended up finding it at a screen printer in York, PA on a family visit. I asked them about lettering the back but the lead time was too long so I just bought the jacket.
Of all the jackets to help you stay warm through the Connecticut winter, why this? You could have picked a wool parka, a plastic poncho, or a very nice full length pea coat. Was it something that was on sale and just looked cool? As far as I know, you didn't play high school sports. What type of consciousness went into this?
Not really sure where the desire came from to get it. I assume I saw someone with one. I was not a sports dude at all at any point in my life, I was a skater kid in high school so there was zero chance I was going get a "Letter" jacket for some sport. Before I got the varsity jacket I wore an insulated flannel like a lumberjack would wear! I still remember my print shop high school teacher commenting that I finally bought a jacket.
When you got it, did you have the letters put on right away? What was the idea behind this? Had you already done the Smorgasbord shirt design and simply adapted that to the jacket, or vice versa?