Shopcoat in cotton-linen hopsack in malt

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Buying

£440.00

Shopcoat, made in London, with a fairly heavy (12oz) hopsack of linen and cotton from Lancashire, and with dark horn buttons — removable ones — from the West Midlands.

Sizing

The shopcoat measures entirely true to size, but because the cloth used for this particular iteration is thick and unyielding — it's a workwear cloth and no mistake — it feels more snug on the body than it might otherwise. Therefore, if you are between sizes, even slightly, then it's a very good idea to go up one.

XS S M L XL
To fit chest 36 38 40 42 44
Pit-to-pit 20 21 22 23 24
Back length 39 39¼ 39½ 39¾ 40
Shoulder 17 17½ 18 18½ 19
Sleeve from   centre-back 34½       35       35½       36       36½      
The shopcoat is a long four-button coat, situated approximately halfway between workwear and tailoring. It has the shape and fit of the latter, but — being as such coats were once attire for machine-shop workers and factory foremen — the durability and the utility of the former.
The shopcoat has a peaked lapel, which drops quite low at the front, and is constructed in an unusual way — with the collar encroaching over the top edge of the lapel — in homage to work jackets of old (where the collar was bolted on without care for tailored tidiness; very much not the case here, be assured).
The buttons are horn, and are dark in colour and matte in finish. Being as they're only a step or two from nature, each one is different, in terms of shade and marking. Those at the front are attached through eyelets and a metal ring — "butcher's buttons", sometimes they are called — and are thus removable.
The front of the coat has four pockets. The most conspicuous sweep from placket to side-seam — spanning, effectively, the entire front of the coat. These are best thought of as buckets for all and every belonging: their capacity and strength (lined as they are with strong cotton-linen) cannot be oversold.
Less obvious are the "warmer" pockets, built into the body seam. These are partly submerged within the aforementioned main pockets. In this way, they occupy a lower position on the body, making the resting of tired hands or the stuffing of cold ones among the most satisfying physical actions imaginable.
Bar-tacks can be found all over the place on the shopcoat. They're at the entry point for every pocket, for instance, standing ground against even the most forceful hand-plunge. Bar-tacks also clamp the collar to the lapel, since plain old stitching wouldn't do, and at the front and back of the armhole.
The shopcoat has a yoke, which starts at the collarbone at the front, straddles the shoulders, and then runs over the shoulder-blades at the back. The yoke serves to shift the shoulder-seam of the coat so it no longer sits at the apex of the body, and is thus shielded from the constant wear and tear of e.g. bag strap.
The armhole on the shopcoat is very slightly lapped, which gives a subtle pronounced depth to proceedings. Not just for show, though: the lapping also shields the weakest part of the seam from the outside world, prolonging durability, and is a trapping of good work and chore jackets the world over.
With things so eventful on the outside of the coat, inside, things are clean and simple, with a chest pocket on the left-side as worn.
The coat is lined halfway down the back with a smooth and slinky satin. It is cut in two panels, with an inverted pleat down its centre. The pleat is decorative, but the lining panel itself makes the shopcoat that bit more easy and pleasurable to slide off and on. Same is true of the sleeves, lined with the same cloth.
The rest of the innards of the shopcoat are neatly bound with cotton. The centre-back seam, for instance, which becomes a (single) back vent.
The cloth is equal parts cotton and linen, and is a heavy hopsack, redolent of traditional workwear material. It is strong and hard-wearing, but because of the high linen content, is cool to touch and more breathable than you'd expect. The linen throws out a slub every now and then, too, adding character.

As worn

Him here is 6'1", 38 in the chest, weighs just over 11 stone, and is here wearing the shopcoat in size S.

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 cloth is woven by a mill in east Lancashire: in a region of the country which was once red-brick cotton-mill chimneys as far as the eye could see. More or less the last of its kind, the mill has forgotten more about cotton than most will ever know — a fact born out by the quality of its work.
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 made in Birmingham."