The donkey jacket is rooted in donkey jackets of yore: a two-tone number, and a workwear mainstay in England through most of the last century. It is a five-button jacket, whose upper half is one cloth, lower half is another, and whose big departure from its ancestors is a seamless shoulder.
The donkey jacket has a very substantial collar. It is pointed with round corners. It may be worn all the way up (as left) when it hugs the neck at the back and sides, and really cuts out the cold. Or, of course, it may be worn down (as above). Even then, in repose, it stands proud, rather than limp and apologetic.
The buttons are horn — dark tortoiseshell in colour and matte in finish. Being as they are an entirely natural thing, each looks a little different, one to the next, varying in tone, hue, and striatic marking. Same goes for the little hand-sewn backing buttons (below-left) which serve to strengthen those at the front.
There are five pockets at the front of the donkey jacket. Most obvious are the jetted flap pockets, which are at waist height (above-right). You can't miss them. Below them, out of sight, are warmer pockets (right) which are built into the side-seams, and are chief candidates for the plunging-in of hands.
A small pocket up at the chest, on the chest seam. And this seam, incidentally, is what divides the upper and lower parts of the jacket. The former is cotton sail-canvas, 14oz in weight. It is a serious barrier versus rain, sleet, and snow — all the while being light and breathable. It runs halfway down the jacket sleeve, too.
There's no shoulder seam on the jacket. No raglan, no in-set, no nothing. Good for keeping out the rain, then, and so aiding and abetting the sail-canvas. The complete absence of a seam also means that the jacket has the softest imaginable shoulder: for better or worse, it rolls over the natural lines of the wearer.
The jacket is half-lined with melton — a hard-wearing material, full of character and gnarled grey yarn — from a mill in the Heavy Woollen District of West Yorkshire. It is a fine outer cloth in its own right, but here is happy to play backup to its even thicker, heavier, and slightly smarter older brother.
The heavy camel cloth, up close. It is woven with worsted-spun yarn, and so has a wonderful lustre about it. No plain duffle cloth or heavy melton, this. It is also very heavily milled, so those fine strands of yarn are coaxed together, making an already thick cloth denser and denser and, yes, denser still.