Whether it’s this weekends official start of the water season held at the San Diego Crew classic. The more regal Henley Royal Regatta or even the infamous Oxford vs Cambridge boat race, one thing is for certain, you’re going to see a lot of very tall people wearing one specific piece of attire.
Often referred to as the golden standard of rakish athletic kit wear. The pinnacle of sportswear elegance and the dignified Collegiate’s warmup hoodie. The rowing blazer is by far the most iconic piece of attire in the history of sporting attire.
Here is our brief overview of the history of the rowing blazer, what it represents in the rowing world, and how a little tradition is sometimes a good thing in the sports world.
A short history of blazers
There are two commonly detailed origins to the humble blazer and both have long and detailed histories if you dig deep enough into the annals of blazer history. Firstly the blazer began as glorified sporty windbreakers for rowers in the beginning of the 19th Century. ‘The first blazers were meant to be worn in boats by rowers at Oxford and Cambridge. They were very loose-fitting, sort of the equivalent of a modern day windbreaker, and were meant to keep rowers warm during chilly training sessions and races on early mornings. The blazers they wore were a bright shade of red, hence the term blazer, referring to the bright fire-like color.
The other origin however, refers to another moment in history, when the blazer was born, A second version of the birth of the term blazer narrates that, in 1837, the captain of the frigate HMS Blazer, a ship belonging to the royal navy, on the occasion of the royal visit by Queen Victoria, ordered for his crew a new uniform suited to the event, and hence came the name. What was created was a blue double-breasted jacket with gold buttons depicting the coat of arms of the frigate. After all it’s hard to be scruffy in a blazer and this is royalty we’re presenting to.
Available in what has arguably become a seemingly bottomless menagerie of fashionably outlandish bold regatta stripes, striking colors, contrasting trims, and all manner of elegantly embroidered crests and badges, should you commission a rowing blazer for yourself it can effectively be (as such) anything your heart desires it to be from a retro styled nod to the past too a completely individualistic and expressively unbridled mark of character — but never, out of respective for rowing heritage and yourself, a carbon copy of a preexisting clubs.
A few final words on tradition
Some will always look upon the idea of tradition as a thing that creates superstition or a nod to a time long gone. Undeniably bold and statement-making in its reflective presence as well as specialized in its purposing, it has nevertheless seen its fair share of sportive adaptations over its near two century existence.
Be that as it may, the rowing blazer has always been the pinnacle of refined athletic aesthetics, uniformity, and functional utility no matter what anybody else would have you believe… and looks all but destined to continue unabated in that role for time immoral.
We’re all for tradition here at Dark Horse so if you’ve enjoyed this, please feel free to tag us on social media with your clubs blazer colors and look out for Shane in his at this weekends Crew Classic in San Diego.
Yours in coaching, education & fashion advice (not so sure on that last one…)
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