The 1950s were a busy time culturally speaking. The teenager was born. Cash and Presley ruled the charts. No small matter both. Just as important, in fashion terms anyway, was the cult status achieved by the Harrington jacket. James Dean wore one in the iconic 1955 film Rebel Without A Cause, turning it into the epitome of cool in the process.
 
However, the jacket’s history goes back a lot further than that. Its roots are in the North West of England, specifically Manchester. John Miller first designed the G9 jacket, as it was originally called, in 1937 for the clothing brand Baracuta. Its name was changed to Harrington because Ryan O’Neal wore the jacket in the ’60's TV series Peyton Place - his character was called Rodney Harrington. The jacket went on to become fashionable among Mods and Skinheads in the UK during the ’60's, and again in the ’70's, early ’80's and today with skinhead and mod revivalists.
 
Dale Hicks, MD of the communication and marketing portal the Manchester Fashion Network is full of enthusiasm for the Harrington’s Northern heritage. “Manchester used to be the textile capital of the world, a legacy that is still evident today,” he says. “And it’s always raining, so we’ve become quite good at making and wearing jackets. You don’t see a lot of good summer fashion coming out of Manchester.” No surprise, then, that he has a classic Harrington in his wardrobe. “Yeah of course I have one,” he says. “It’s unbranded and I absolutely love it.”
 
Bobby Langley, Head Of Merchandising at Sony Music, is another Northerner with a deep love of the Harrington. “I looked after Oasis a few years ago and we hooked up with Baracuta to design some Harrington jackets. We produced three great colourways. I still have the City blue one tucked away somewhere.” He recalls his first encounter with the Harrington. “My mum bought me the original black Harrington with red/black wool check lining from the underground market in Manchester when I was very young. I teamed it with black monkey boots and Lee jeans.” It’s a classic look. 
 
The latest incarnation of the Harrington comes from Baker Street Clothing, who have taken inspiration from another culturally rich jacket brand, Stone-Dri, to create a Harrington for 2011. Stone-Dri began back in the ’40s. Four brothers trading as Joseph Stone and Co Ltd produced simple, good quality outerwear in their Manchester factory. In 2002, Joel Brown, owner of Baker Street Clothing, found a Stone-Dri advert on the cover of an old 1953 football program. It was the inspiration for the rebirth of this classic brand. Taking Stone-Dri’s history as a starting point, Brown has created a new range that includes technical advances such as coated cotton and mixing of Italian wools and durable fabrics, but has kept the heritage of outstanding quality and attention to detail that Joseph Stone and Co created back in 1945.
 
The result is a cult classic similar to the ethos behind the original Baracuta G9 Harrington jacket. From the North West. As it should be.
 
Text: Danny Higgins

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