Thrifting at Andover: Vintage Andover Gear Revived

Gwen Robinson ’20 found a varsity jacket and a sweatshirt from 2007 in the racks of clothing behind Borden Memorial Gym.

Piles and racks of Andover athletic gear appeared behind Borden Memorial Gym on November 9. Students sifted through the dumpsters and took home vintage varsity jackets, sports jerseys, and various athletic wear.

Although the athletic department tried to recycle the clothing, due to a miscommunication, some gear ended up in the dumpsters, according to Lisa Joel, Director of Athletics. All of the clothing that was in the dumpster has since been removed and is currently being sorted through to determine what is fit to recycle or sell.

“More stuff was put into a dumpster [than was expected], and it shouldn’t have been put into a dumpster. It should have gone [towards] textile recycling… I will take full responsibility for it landing there, because I am the Athletic Director, and I just wouldn’t want anyone else having to go into that. As soon as we realized that, we removed all of it,” said Joel.

Joel explained how as the Athletic Department was looking for spaces for the Andover Crew team to practice in the winter, they stumbled upon all of the vintage clothing, much of which is from the late 80s and early 90s. Most of the clothing was found in the equipment areas in the boys and girls locker rooms in Borden. Joel said that the Athletic Department had tried to sort and throw out the clothing that had mold or was in an unwearable condition.

“The original intent [was] to remove some of the stuff that had mold. No one wanted to wear stuff that had mold, and certainly some stuff that we felt like was frayed enough, that [didn’t] stand the test of time, [was not wearable]. The stuff that was put in the dumpster shouldn’t have gone there because you can responsibly recycle it, so I’m really glad people brought it to my attention,” said Joel.

Claire Brady ’20 spoke to Joel after going through the clothing with friends.

“At first I was really struck, and I was pretty disappointed to see such clothings being trashed. The students would have actually wanted a lot of it, and also most of it was still in a pretty decent condition for someone to be wearing it, and so to see all those clothes put in the dumpster was really disappointing.”

But after talking to Joel, Brady learned that the department had tried to recycle. In previous years, old uniforms had been sold at yard sales, where the proceeds go to buying new uniforms for the Athletic Department, according to Joel. In the future, the Athletic Department may have yard sales to sell old athletic clothing back to students.

“There is still a lot of stuff that is in the equipment room that people may or may not be interested in…Uniforms here have somewhere between probably a four to seven year life cycle…so we are constantly going to be having this iteration of hundreds of pieces of athletic uniforms now suddenly becoming obsolete. Really, the hope is to host yard sales to raise funds every few years,” said Joel.

Brady found out about the clothing from Posie Millett ’20, who was leaving for a cross Country Competition from behind Borden.

Brady said, “It was kind of fun. I was there with a handful of other people, and we were shouting out the things we were finding, and it ended up being really fun. I got three free varsity jackets, vintage jackets that I would have paid money for, so that was fun.”

Tiffany Tang ’22 said that finding vintage athletic clothing from Andover Girls Cross Country was particularly special to her and reinforced her love for the team.

“Before [Cross Country] loaded the busses for our NEPSTA championships, [Corey Paolillo, Assistant Athletics Equipment Manager] pointed to some racks of old sports clothing and said it was all free, so we all looked through and took some pieces. I personally only took one, an XC jacket…Having a cross country jacket is significant to me because I love [Andover Girls Cross Country] a lot and it’s absorbed my life, so I’m happy to [represent] it,” said Tang.

In addition to athletic gear, math class apparel and varsity theatre jackets were also among the clothing. Finding a varsity theatre jacket was particularly important for Amelia Meyer ’21.

“I was super excited. Why not let the students have our go at creative athletic fashion and give them some resources? The varsity theatre jackets were the most exciting to me, because I think the idea of varsity theatre is excellent,” wrote Meyer in an email to The Phillipian.

Millett enjoyed finding pieces of equipment that she could connect to her Andover experience outside of athletics as well.

Millett said, “I’m actually wearing a t-shirt that says… ‘Math’ [on the back], like the way that the last name would be written, and then 650 like a number, so it has Math-650 on it, which I think is really funny… A lot of people took the clothing because it’s cool to feel connected to the past of the school. They don’t make jackets that same way anymore…[The] material wasn’t necessarily nicer, but I think it’s cool to have those vintage things.”

The novelty of the vintage clothing was apparent to Joel, who recognized that much of the appeal of the clothing comes from the sentimentality of it. Upon noticing that some of the old clothing included plaid kilts that the Andover Field Hockey team had worn in 1993, Joel sent some over to Jennifer Elliott ’94, Assistant Head of School for Residential Life and Dean of Students, who played on the team.

“Elliott…was on a championship field hockey team in 1993, [and we sent] the plaid kilts that they wore in 1993 to her. We understand that there’s a lot of nostalgia around gear, we understand that our current students like stuff that is old, that’s the heart of what’s cool to wear. A lot of kids wear their parents’ stuff from their Andover days. So that is not lost on us,” said Joel.