Balmacaan in cotton no-wax in rye brown

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Buying

£480.00

Walking coat, made in London, with stay-wax cotton of middling weight (9oz) from a mill in Scotland, and horn buttons from the Midlands.

Sizing

This version of the balmacaan fits a little larger than the marked size, so if you are between sizes — even slightly — then it is best to go up.

XS S M L XL
To fit chest 36 38 40 42 44
Pit-to-pit 22½ 23½ 24½ 25½ 26½
Back length 38½ 38¾ 39 39¼ 39½
Sleeve from   centre-back 34½       35       35½       36       36½      

Caring

This is best washed by hand in lukewarm water, or dry-cleaned. If a washing machine must be used, a cold wash and no tumble-drying is the best option. Before washing, though, the cloth may be rejuvenated with steam: hold it over a kettle and the patina of the wax-like finish will fade away, restoring the appearance of the cotton back to normal.

Behold "no wax" cotton, which is a middling weight cotton with a stay-wax treatment. It behaves just like waxed cloth in wet weather, but is bone-dry to touch. Also quite like waxed cloth, it quickly acquires a parchment-like patina — "chalk marks", as some folks call them — from every fold and crease.
A classic walking coat, this: long and single-breasted, and with a two-piece raglan sleeve that allows a great range of movement in the upper body. Very helpful when it comes to layering, too. "Balmacaan" is the traditional name for this style of coat — from the Balmacaan forest in Scotland.
The coat has a collar of significant size, cut to sit straight when down, and really hug the neck when up. On one side there is a chin-strap. This buttons across, one side to the other, and keeps the collar standing when the going gets breezy. It can be buttoned back, too, or let to hang loose and lopsided.
The coat has a front of five horn buttons — dark in colour and matte in finish. Because each is a thing of nature, they are all unique — differing in shade and markings. The coat has a fly-front, with the buttons hidden away when fastened, and so less likely to snag on brambles and other outdoor perils.
The balmacaan has side-entry pockets at the front, which are set at just the right height for the inward plunging of hands. Simple enough, you might first assume ...
... but these pockets also have a secret. They serve as a portal, see, which leads the hand all the way through to the inside of the coat. The annals of outerwear have it that this originates in army coats from a century or more ago — making it easy to access the shirt or jacket or trouser worn underneath the coat.
At the base of the sleeve, pointing towards the back, is a squat and squidged arrow-shaped strap.
At the back lurks a deep inverted pleat, extending almost halfway up the length of the coat. It is constructed in the old-fashioned and faintly over-complicated manner of mid-century British walking coats, and means there's more coat to the coat when the wearer lurches forwards or sideways.
One more pocket: this time on the inside, on the left-side as worn, and set a little lower than normal to make things easier on the elbows. It is a chest pocket of standard wallet- or mobile-size.
The coat has a lining halfway down the back of more of the same weatherproof cotton. In this way, when also taking into account the facing on the inside-front of the coat, you have a double-layer of cloth on the most weather-exposed parts of the exterior. Elsewhere, seams are neatly bound with cotton.

As worn

The gent here is 6'1", 12 stone, and as standard a 38 chest as you could hope to meet. The balmacaan he's wearing here, then, is a size S (and yes, it is slightly different, the one he's wearing — with the collar-latch as a separate piece rather than grown onto the collar — but the shape is exactly the same).

Makers of

The coat is made in north-east London. It is a very specialised skill, assembling coats from heavy cloth, and every reasonable step — and the odd unreasonable step — is to taken to endure things are built to last, from the cutting of the pattern to the work on the machine, but without the results being stiff or bulky.
The cotton comes from Scotland, from a mill on the coast, where the making of heavy, waxed, and otherwise element-proof materials emerged in hand, centuries ago, with local seafaring trades. Industry-strength cottons finished in industry-leading ways is very much the order of the day here.
The horn buttons were cut, shaped, and polished by the last such factory in Britain (now defunct). It was part of a tradition in the Midlands first linked to the meat industry of the 18th century. "It is no easy task," said William Hutton in 1780, "to enumerate the infinite diversity of buttons here in Birmingham."

So they say

The coat is wonderful. I have in my time worn [list of established British coat-makers] and, in their prime, [another very notable British coat-maker] and none hold a candle to this. It is lightweight, has a great hand and texture, its fit is perfect for me, and so is its cut. Thank you very much. It also arrived beautifully boxed and intact.

So commented a gent in the States about the balmacaan in the Flyweight quality of Ventile in May 2017.

The balmacaan arrived yesterday, intact, beautifully wrapped and boxed. It is beautiful and fits perfectly. Over a suit with cell phone, stethoscope, and assorted EDC gear on board, it is comfortable and not baggy. And the fabric is amazing. A soft hand and drape but seems as if it will wear forever. Love the Donegal slubs, too. I often wear a popped collar — a throwback to my preppy days — and the collar here really pops. I couldn't be more pleased. Thank you again for you great service and superior craftsmanship.

The words of a man who purchased a tweed version of the balmacaan in September 2017.

I have gotten the urge to advance further into the world of well-dressed people, and I was one of the lucky people who got their hands on the sturdy balmacaan in Ventile Canvas.

This is what a gentleman who acquired the balmacaan in (sturdy indeed) Ventile Canvas had to say in February 2016.

The balmacaan has arrived. It is beautiful.

Succinct words from a man who bought the coat in January 2016.

I have received the tweed balmacaan and it is even more beautiful than I remembered. Thank you very much again.

This man had been waiting for a tweed balmacaan for nearly two years, and finally got his hands on one in September 2017.

I'm very pleased — it's beautifully made and detailed.

More succinct words, by a chap who bought the bal in March 2016.

I thought I'd let you know that I'm really pleased with my balmacaan. I've already given it a couple wears despite the weather being a bit chilly, and I love it. The fit and cut is wonderful — modern and classic at the same time, great silhouette and a perfect collar. The details are great (I don't really know the purpose of the press studs on the pockets, but I know I like them). And the fabric is great stuff, looks and feels lovely, and the way it creases, especially up and down the arms, is amazing. I imagine it ageing very well. A proper rain coat. I'm eagerly anticipating a rainy spring.

Kind words by a man who purchased the balmacaan in canopy cotton in March 2018.