As many of you will already know, the varsity jacket really emerged as an icon in the decades between 1930 and 1950. Even though the first Archie comics were published almost slap bang in the middle of that period – Mr Pep himself made his debut back in 1946 – Archiekins was never really all that much of a jock.
That posed a problem for the creators of Riverdale. Archie’s jacket is a manufactured solution to the fact that characters like Jughead, with his “whoopee cap” and signature “S” shirt, and Veronica (pearls and Chanel, darling) came complete with all sorts of potential visual nods to their history in the comics. With the exception of his red hair – which KJ Apa, the star of the show, did adopt a very dark, subtle version of for the show – and clumsy tendencies, more or less abandoned in Riverdale, that’s never really been the case with Archie.
Even though he wasn’t necessarily a keen sportsman in the comic books, Archie has been known to sport a varsity jacket from time to time in the comic book source material. This gave the creators an opportunity to jump on when they created Riverdale. Varsity jackets have, in their own way, become a key part of the show.
Riverdale’s Archie is very obviously a jock – he’s promoted from JV to Varsity quarterback when Jason Blossom (more on Jason below) goes missing – and wears his varsity jacket pretty much all the time, even at funerals and other formal social events.
But the way Archie wears his varsity jacket is a little different. He never wears his jersey outside of football games, which is unusual for jocks in other TV dramas and films aimed at teens. Nor does he wear “Property of Riverdale Athletic Department” or “RHS – Riverdale Football” tees that you’ll see many of his teammates sporting.
It’s far more likely that you’ll see Archie pair his varsity jacket with a henley or plaid shirt. It’s clear from watching the show that the aim of Archie’s wardrobe is to contrast his internal battle between sticking with football, which is the key to college scholarships, and focusing on pursuing a career in music. Still, it’s made clear that sports is a huge part of what makes Archie so popular and desirable – “You play football too? What don’t you do?” asks Veronica in the pilot episode.
Of course, Archie’s jacket isn’t the only varsity jacket of interest in Riverdale. At the time of writing (spoiler alert!) Jason Blossom’s jacket is hanging in Jughead’s dad’s wardrobe, having last been seen in the back of a car that was later burnt out. How do we know it’s Jason’s? Because the highly customisable nature of varsity jackets means that his name is embroidered across the right side of the chest. In other words, it’s not a stretch to say that a varsity jacket currently represents the biggest clue in figuring out a mystery that’s absolutely central to the arc of the entire first season.
It’s rare that varsity jackets are so vital to the visual style/plot of a film or TV show – Beverly Hills Cop’s Detroit Lions jacket and Saved By The Bell’s Bayside High red Letterman jackets are the best examples we can think of right now – but we love it when they are. It just provides further evidence that, no matter what else might change, varsity jackets are still a timeless fashion icon that are here to stay. And, given that Riverdale has already been renewed for a second season, we’re pretty sure that Archie’s Riverdale jacket is here to stay as well.
And, just in case you needed any further motivation, it’s pretty clear from the Instagram of KJ Apa (aka Mr Archie himself) that he’s as big a fan of varsity jackets as the character he plays.
If you’re as eager to create your own Riverdale varsity jacket as we are (and yes, we are putting one together right now!) we recommend the following presets in our jacket creator:
- Body: Blue
- Sleeves: Gold
- Pops: Yellow
- Double Stripe: Yellow on Blue
- Letter: R, Yellow on White