The Full Family of Sporting Wools

/ / Design Stories

Following on from our last feature on the unlikely journey of wool in cycling, we thought we’d shift the focus onto a variety of other sporting pursuits, all of which have close ties with woollen attire whether that be for durability, flexibility, or pure style. Here are our four favourite sporting wool designs, straight out of our heritage fabric archive.


Hacking Jacket


Hacking Jacket

The name of this jacket is derived from the term ‘Hacking’, meaning a light, informal riding of a horse for pleasure.

These were the riding coats of choice for eighteenth century country-folk, inevitably catching the attention of the country loving aristocracy.

The Hacking Jacket is basically an accentuated version of a sports jacket (to be covered later in this post) and traditionally made using a tweed fabric.

The double or centre vent helps better conform to the horse’s back, and slanted flap pockets ensure your belongings wouldn’t fall out when cantering or jumping fences.

As British as a jacket can be, it’s story of adoption for equestrianism in the eighteenth century set the scene for the design of sporting jackets for years to come.



Cavalry Twill (Riding Breeches)


Cavalry Twill

Staying on an equestrian theme, a Cavalry Twill is commonly used for hardwearing clothes such as riding breeches – hence the association with British Cavalry officers.

These breeches are trousers which stop just below the knee (sometimes reaching ankle length), and are usually composed of a smooth surfaced twill fabric with a clean but prominent double twill effect.

The twill is the diagonal weave visible in the fabric, and while it can be woven as a more intricate Herringbone or Houndstooth pattern the double twill is the standard finish.

This twill woven as a fine worsted wool is interestingly more stain resistant than a plain weave because of the raised threads; another trait of the toughness of woollen sporting apparel.




Blazer Stripes


Blazer Stripes

Although not actually worn for sport, something would be amiss on this list if the famous Blazer Stripe was omitted.

First worn by the Lady Margaret boat club of Cambridge University, the ‘blaze of colour’ was also applied to jackets worn by other English University cricket, tennis, and rowing teams from the 1880’s.

The premise of the design is obviously all in the name; the stripes of this fine jacketing fabric could be thick or thin, bright or neutrally coloured, the endless combinations of which ensured each club or team had it’s own identity.

In the 1920’s and 30’s, the style became very popular for summer wear (think The Great Gatsby).

American versions were popular in blue, bottle green and cream, and were often adorned with metallic buttons worn above linen slacks.




Worsted Sporting Jacket


Worsted Sport Jacket

A look that was pioneered by French tennis star and fashion businessman René Lacoste in the 1920’s, Sport Jackets were originally worn as casual attire for hunting and other outdoor pursuits.

Of a similar cut and length to the traditional suit jacket, the sport version featured a softer construction to be worn on less formal occasions.

Colours and patterns are more varied and usually incorporated designs such as Glen-Check or Gun-Plaid, tightly woven checks still very much associated with modern country clothing.

Worsted yarns (also used for Cavalry Twill) differ slightly from other woollens, having been combed rather than carded during manufacturing to ensure a finer, lighter weight fabric.

This coupled with it’s natural resilience made the Sport Jacket ideal for country activities away from the horse saddle.