What ever happened to show jackets?

When I first arrived in NYC in the early ’90s, if you were in a Broadway show or worked on a Broadway show, you got/bought a show jacket – which was usually an old-fashioned varsity jacket with the show logo embroidered on the back.

And if you didn’t have one . . . you wanted one . . . badly.  Really badly.

Show Jacket envy was everywhere.  Getting a jacket was like getting an Equity card, or an agent . . . sometimes it was even more valuable than the paycheck.

It was a symbol that you had earned your stripes.

Somewhere around the turn of the millenium, they fell out of fashion.  Nowadays, it’s rare to see someone sportin’ a show jacket on the street or the subway.  So what happened to them?  Was it deemed too tacky to promote what you were doing so blatantly?   (Seems odd in the era of self-promotion through social media.)   Are they just not cool anymore?

I gotta tell you . . . I miss them . . . for two reasons:

  1. All those jackets in the streets were little walking billboards that helped market shows . . . and Broadway.
  2. Having a badge of honor like a jacket made actors and the like seem like they were part of an exclusive club. And whenever there is an exclusive club, other people want in.

So I want ’em back.  Whatta ya say we start a movement to put the show jacket back in style, ok?

I’ll wear mine if you wear yours.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.