The History of Baracuta’s Iconic G9 Harrington Jacket
Worn by golfers, punks, preps, Steve McQueen and you.
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The Harrington jacket has long been canonized as an essential piece of menswear. Every year it’s welcomed into closets by men hoping to capture the essence (and good looks) of the jacket’s most famed admirers — Steve McQueen, Elvis Presley and Daniel Craig among them. Yet these leading men didn’t settle for just any Harrington jacket but the Harrington jacket — the Baracuta G9.
In 1930s Manchester, England, brothers John and Isaac Miller were finding enormous success manufacturing full-length Mac coats for storied brands like Burberry and Aquascutum. The business proved lucrative, not only due to the city’s wet climate but rich industrial background, which had earned Manchester the moniker “Cottonopolis” in the early 1900s. The Miller Brothers had been producing the designer raincoats under the name Baracuta, but soon sought to establish the company as more of a brand, eventually proffering their own selection of outerwear to combat the rain.
The success of the company granted the brothers access to the upper echelons of Manchester society, part of which included membership at the Manchester Golf Club clubhouse. Recognizing that a full-length rain coat hindered one’s golf game, the brothers sought to design a jacket that would allow for full range of motion while remaining appropriate enough to wear within the confines of the club. The Brothers’ vision came to fruition in 1937 with the G9 jacket, named using the brand’s alphanumeric system, the “G” referring to golf. The jacket itself featured a cape-like structure with a high collar outfitted with buttons and rubber strips at the bottom of the sleeves to ensure the arms stay covered even while hitting a golf ball. As for the now iconic tartan lining, in 1938 the Brothers approached Lord Lovat, the chief of the Clan Fraser (descendant of the same branch of family as William the Lion, former King of Scots) for use of the family’s tartan. Lovat, himself a member of the Manchester Golf Club, acquiesced, and thus the Baracuta G9 jacket was officially born.
As the Brothers began exporting the jacket to the United States in the 1950s, it quickly found favor among the golfing elite, which at the time included Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Ronald Reagan. Naturally the success of the jacket spawned imitators, with U.S. brand McGregor releasing their lookalike, the “Drizzler,” which would go on to be worn by James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. Despite not being attributed to Baracuta, the exposure of the style worked in the brand’s favor, allowing them to expand their clientele beyond golfers, and soon the G9 made its film debut in 1958’s King Creole starring Elvis Presley.
While the jacket is most famously linked to Steve McQueen (who wore it in both The Thomas Crown Affair and on the cover of Life Magazine in April of 1963) it was actually Ryan O’Neal who was responsible for ushering it into the mainstream, donning the jacket as Rodney Harrington in the soap opera Peyton Place. The jacket became so inseparable from O’Neal’s character that Baracuta permanently affixed “Harrington” to its name, in turn creating an enduring symbol of post-war preppy style.
Yet the G9’s associations with traditional movie stars and all-American icons didn’t prevent it from finding favor among those with a less conventional style, and it was soon co-opted by the Mods in the 1960s, then punks in the 1970s and ’80s, and finally by skinheads in the the ’90s. The jacket’s appeal to seemingly disparate cultures and individuals only serves as proof of its versatility, which continues to endure, the G9’s sleek silhouette and associations with coolness transcending its original intent as mere golfing jacket and cementing it within the annals of style.
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