Donkey jacket in melton and sail-cloth in black

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Buying

£440.00

Casual jacket, made in London, with a body of heavy (27oz) woollen melton from West Yorkshire, sleeves of mid-weight (12oz) weatherproof cotton from Northern Ireland, and dark horn buttons from the West Midlands.

Sizing

The donkey jacket fits true to size. The mannequin here is as standard a 38 chest as ever there was, and is thus wearing size S.

XS S M L XL
To fit chest 36 38 40 42 44
Pit-to-pit 19½ 20½ 21½ 22½ 23½
Shoulder 18½ 19 19½ 20 20½
Back length 28½ 28¾ 29 29¼ 29½
Sleeve from   centre-back 33¼       33¾       34¼       34¾       35¼      
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 on the jacket are large, solid horn — dark in colour and matte in finish — and each is a little different from one to the next. They are in that regard as if alpha-keratin snowflakes — such is the beauty of being a product of a high-grade natural material, rather than, say, a plastic replica.
There are five pockets at the front of the donkey jacket. Most obvious of them are the jetted flap pockets, which are at waist height. You can't miss them. Below them, out of sight, are warmer pockets (below) which are built into the side-seams, and are chief candidates for plunging in hands.
There's a pocket on the chest seam, too — a small one, handy for keys, coins, matchboxes, etc.
There's no shoulder seam on the jacket. No armhole, no raglan, 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 lined halfway down the back with a smooth and slinky satin, cut as a single panel. It helps with sliding the donkey on and off, being as the outer cloth has the potential for friction. The sleeves, too, are lined with the same cloth.
Inside, the jacket has a chest pocket on the left-side as worn. Handy. Perhaps more importantly, though, the inside of the jacket is faced with an extra layer of outer cloth — meaning that, when fully done up, there are several layers of thick cloth between the chest of the wearer and the harsh winds of the world outside.
The wool melton is a replica of cloth woven by the same mill, on the same premises, over half a century ago for the British Army. It is heavy, sure, but with tremendous drape and flow. The yarn from which it is woven — of British sheep — is worsted-spun, hence is more lustrous than usual.
The sail-cloth is a high-count canvas, with all the subtle bobbliness that that entails. It has a weatherproof finish and is densely woven, so is excellent in the rain. It is also hard-wearing, and is very much in the "gets better with age" category. Impressively rich, deep colour, too: well done, dye-works.

As worn

The gent here is 6'1", 11½ stone, and is as standard a 38 as ever there was. He's wearing a size S here, without much else underneath. Note that, if he intended to wear the jacket with chunky sweaters and suchlike, an M would be order of the day.
Same jacket, worn by a chap much the same size. It's a size M this time, worn over a shirt and thin sweater. In hindsight, a size S would've been better: a bit too roomy in the body, don't you think?

Makers of

The jacket is made by an outerwear factory in north-east London. It is specialised skill, assembling jackets from thick and heavy cloth. The idea is to make something which truly lasts — all highly durable making techniques, heavy fusing, and turned seams — without the result being stiff or bulky.
The cotton is from Northern Ireland, 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 now the order of the day.
The melton wool hails from a mill founded in the Heavy Woollen District of West Yorkshire in the 1800s. Carding, blending, spinning, and weaving — it all happens on the same premises. This unique arrangement means that the fleece’s change into top-grade cloth could not be more tightly tuned.
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."

So they say

I just picked up the two items from post office. Fantastic. The donkey jacket is so handsome. I've never had a light colour jacket before, but it is so easy to wear with anything.

So said a gent in Japan who acquired the donkey jacket in manila-colour sail-canvas in March 2018.