Rowing Blazers—An Ivy League Revival Straight from the Boating Club
August 16, 2018
Visit the Rowing Blazers website and immediately, you’re struck with an overwhelming sense of… “this is… a lot.” The site features distinctly British clothing items, blazers and rugby shirts, designed for those lads that want a cheeky nod to their rebellious days at the academy.
But the burst of nostalgia-cum-Ivy League-cosplay doesn’t exactly come cheap. Casual blazers can top $1,000, easy, and even the tees top $60. That said, the company does take a unique approach to men’s (and women’s) wear. Here’s a bit about the Rowing Blazers brand and which items are well worth the splurge.
About the Blazers Company
Let us start off by saying that Rowing Blazers have some primo press on the books. The blazer brand has been featured in big deal magazines like Town & Country, Vogue, and more.
The brand, Rowing Blazers was founded by designer, Jack Carlson, who wrote a book about the rich and fascinating history of the expressive rowing blazer. Jack himself is an accomplished rower and winner of three international regattas.
The book precedes the clothing line, and highlights the storied history of the elaborately piped, colorful jackets that belong in the boathouse, not the boardroom. The idea behind these blazers is relatively simple. Back in the day—we’re talking the 1920s and 30s, oarsmen donned blazers—unlined, unvented blazers with unconstructed jackets. The simple design is a casual clothing item—despite current professional associations and was considered the hoodie of its time.
These days, the brand Rowing Blazers sought to bring back the rowing blazer. While its namesake clothing item is a central focus, RB also makes oxford shirts, rugby shirts and accessories like cuff links that complement the wares.
Many of the items, too, stray from their preppy past, in favor of something different—think distressed seams on button down shirts, blazers in bright hues or accented by unexpected embroidery. So, it’s safe to say the brand caters to more than the Connecticut prepster set.
Which Blazers Look Best?
The whole Rowing Blazers aesthetic is a lot. Consumers who want something more traditional may be inclined to go for something like the All-Amercian Navy Hopsack Blazer. Here, you’ll get a two-button blazer with a three-roll silhouette. According to Jack, this particular blazer is the most understated jacket in the RB lineup, but it still has the breezy, casual aesthetic of its colorful counterparts. While the $895 jacket is a little more casual than your average suit jacket, you could get away with wearing this guy to work, as well as with jeans or chinos—no boat required.
On the flashier side, we thought the Kimono Blazer was an interesting pick. The navy color makes this American prep-meets Japanese tradition super wearable, while still providing an interesting cut that will elevate your black jeans and tee uniform.
If you’re really looking to make a splash, try this striped piece—inspired by the aesthetics of a croquet wicket. According to Jack’s little commentary in the description, this blazer is made to be loud—really, blazers in general were made to be loud. While the $995 multicolor pick isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, RB is currently sold out in several sizes.
What’s the Verdict on Rowing Blazers?
Interestingly, this is going to come down to personal taste. While the ideal wearer is going to have some connection to the high prep roots of staples like rowing jackets and a crisp oxford shirt, you’ll find that many of these items feature an edge—and look more at home on a guy who may also be a fan of streetwear staples.
Jack’s entry into fashion is somewhat refreshing, too. The professional rower came to this business through his interest in rowing culture. Again, that loudness in some of the pieces reflects the storied history of the rowing blazer—a jersey that made it easy for spectators to see their team.
We like that the brand has gone modern with these pieces, but for many, the twist on a classic does not merit investment piece prices unless you’ve got major money to burn.