Henley Royal Regatta

Henley Royal Regatta – why the striped blazers ?
As Ratty said to Mole in Wind in the Willows “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
And that’s just what a lot of people will be doing this week at Henley – but in the company of some world-class rowers. Henley Royal Regatta is one of the highlights of the English sporting calendar and social season. First held in 1839, the Regatta has taken place annually ever since, except during the two World Wars and last year due to Covid. It became the Henley Royal Regatta in 1851 when Prince Albert was its patron.
The English social season is renowned for its iconic events, each recognisable for their sartorial elegance, but none quite match Henley Royal Regatta for the fantastic array of striped blazers and boaters to be seen. In fact rowing club blazers form an important part of the Regatta adding to the spectacle of the whole event.
So where did this much-loved tradition all start ? 
Blazers are thought to have first been used by Oxford and Cambridge rowers as windbreaks in the beginning of the 19th Century. They were loose fitting and meant to keep rowers warm during early morning training sessions and races.
There is another theory around the origin of the blazer, which is that it was invented in 1837 by the captain of the frigate HMS Blazer on the occasion of a royal visit by Queen Victoria.
However it is well documented that competing teams at the early regattas at Henley thought up the idea of wearing different coloured jackets so that the spectators could spot the competing teams from the riverbanks – and stripes proved an obvious choice for traditional rowing blazers in the early years of the Regatta.
Later, as the simpler combinations were taken up, teams needed to look for alternatives and bright, contrasting colours started being used – with the added benefit of being far easier to see.
The precursors to the traditional rowing blazers, now such a feature of the Regatta, were introduced in 1852 and are worn proudly by both young and old. Many date back to the early days and are handed on to keep the tradition alive.
Whilst many of those at Henley will be in the prime of their youth, some of their blazers will not be ! They might not quite fit as they should, having been have passed down the generations and they may appear a little stained and threadbare. The stains are regarded as a ‘badge of honour’ and the blazers are never dry cleaned !
And they are not just passed down through the family – in many clubs they are given to new members as older ones leave, often still with the names of previous owners sewn in.
Unlike Ascot, at Henley it’s often the men, and not the women, making a style statement with their club blazers – still worn at all times in the Stewards Enclosure, as even on the hottest days men are not allowed to remove their jackets.
Tradition is an important part of the English social scene and calendar and nowhere is this more vibrant and alive than at Henley. Tradition is also an important part of Fox Brothers ethos and we are proud to have supplied cloth to some of the world’s greatest tailoring houses for blazers and other clothing since 1772.
We are creators of beautiful timeless designed cloth and garments, made to last for generations, creating the heirlooms of the future in just the same way that rowing club blazers from the past are now much-prized heirlooms today.