We are living in the best possible time for riding gear. Not only are quality and fashion sense at a historical high, bargains can be found as well. Companies like Fieldsheer and Alpine Stars are back in the US market and there are new or rejuvenated suppliers everywhere you look. What’s even better is the cross-over effect that is happening at companies like Corazzo and GoGo Gear. I recently reviewed Corazzo’s excellent new Viaggio jacket and it’s “system” approach and modern outdoor sports design are not only effective in use, but good looking as well. Which brings us to another new jacket, a heavily revised version of an updated classic, the G9 “Harrington” jacket.
The original G9 jacket started out a a humble light jacket with a red tartan interior lining. It was initially produced by two British clothing manufacturers (Grenfell of Burnley and Baracuta) in the 1930s. The jacket’s popularity soared when a young Elvis Presley donned one in the 1958 movie “King Creole”. The G9 became the “Harrington” when it was named after the character that Ryan O’Neal played (Rodney Harrington) in the 1960’s soap opera “Peyton Place”. Actor Steve McQueen further burnished the G9’s style by wearing his in public and in 1963’s “The Thomas Crowne Affair. The jacket also gained popularity in the 1960’s (and revival) British Modernist movement because of it’s Ivy League design, and later was adopted by other British youth movements.
The Harrington has received several updates over the years and has been offered in many different materials, colors and combinations of lining. It’s still available today from the original manufacturers Baracuta, and is even offered through mainstream retailers like J. Crew and Orvis in the United States. Now, L.A.-based GoGo Gear has introduced their version of the classic Harrington, and has added a new dimension to the jacket as a true scooterist riding jacket.
Arlene Battishill of GoGo Gear says that “the Harrington was always a cool jacket, one with a great history, so we just HAD to do one for the riders.” She continued, “We had to make it with our GoGo Gear flair, which means improving the jacket to include a water repellent outer shell, adding a hidden Kevlar lining and level one, CE approved, armor in the elbow, shoulder and back”. When I asked her where she got the inspiration to make such a true-looking version, she told me that she had purchased an original vintage Harrington out of England to based her heavily modified version on. She said that doing a version of the Harrington had been “kicking around in my head for four of five years, it was one of the first things that I thought about for a men’s jacket.” Now that her design work is done, I got to try out a pre-production version of the Harrington, and here’s what I found.
Like all good Harrington’s the GoGo Gear version is navy blue with a slightly textured but eye-popping tartan lining, featuring a Union Jack version of the GoGo Gear label. Although it’s a lightweight jacket, it feels substantial, with 350 grams of hidden Dupont Kevlar lining the back and back of sleeves areas in addition to the removable, rubber-like, impact armor. There is a tall collar featuring a unique double RAF roundel snap closure. The jacket features YKK zippers in bright silver on the main closure and underarm vents. It’s got easy-on smooth satin lining in the arms and pockets with tartan pockets where the armor slips in. The outside slash pockets are true to form, offering a snap closure (also in bright silver) and the classic Harrington hidden pocket flaps that can be slipped into the pocket, completely out of sight. There are two internal vest pockets, one satin lined and the other a longer patch pocket with a grip strip keeper. Ribbed, stretchy cotton surrounds the bottom of the jacket as well as the wrists to ensure draft free comfort. The fit is true, with the men’s large fitting my 44 inch chest very well and with the sleeves accommodating my long arms without pulling up. The GoGo Gear Harrington also has a hanging loop, which is a wonderful surprise.
Although we’re not riding in Michigan in the middle of this winter, I did go sit on my 1972 Vespa Rally 180 and the jacket seems to fit the riding position (and fit in) very well indeed. The design is eye-catching and will be popular with scooterboys, Mods and skinheads as well as with scooterists who just want to look clean and classy while having some riding protection between them and the real world.
The GoGo Gear jacket is a multipurpose casual jacket that can be worn over layers as a three or mild four season jacket, or with the armor removed, can be worn as a light jacket with unmistakable fashion and style. It’s scheduled for release in February 2015 in men’s S, M, L, XL and 2XL, with pricing to be determined, but as Arlene says “competitive with the fashion jackets, but offering unique style and real riding protection.” Well said for a truly unique riding jacket.
What’s next: New year, new scoot