Donkey jacket in canopy cotton / sail-cloth in manila

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Garment

£380.00

Donkey jacket, made in London, with both rain-proof cotton and cotton sail-cloth from Scotland, and horn buttons from the Midlands.

Sizing

The jacket fits true to size, and thus the mannequin here — as standard a size 38 chest as you will ever find — is wearing a size S.

XS S M L XL
To fit chest 36 38 40 42 44
Pit-to-pit 19 20 21 22 23
Sleeve over shoulder 30½ 31 31½ 32 32½
Back length 27½ 28 28½ 29 29½
Canopy cotton — the top half of the jacket — is quite something. It is cotton of mid-weight, with a "dry wax" treatment — which is to say, all the benefits of wax, but none of the wet, sticky drawbacks. It repels rain without flinching, but is bone dry. It is tumbled, too, and brushed, so has a soft, peachy texture.
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 marking. Same goes for the little hand-sewn backing buttons (below-left) which serve to anchor the buttons 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.
There is a small pocket up at the chest, set within the chest-spanning seam. This seam, incidentally, is what separates the upper and lower parts of the donkey jacket.
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-cloth. 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 has a half-lining of even more canopy cotton. In this way, when also taking into account the facing on the inside-front of the jacket, you have a double-layer of cloth on the most weather-exposed parts of the exterior. Elsewhere, meanwhile, the seams are bound smartly with beige cotton.
Here is the cotton sail-cloth, which covers the lower half of the jacket (and the lower half of the sleeves, too). It is a 140z canvas, with a pleasing bobbled texture, and a washed finished — hence it isn't as rigid as you might think. It will soften further, too, with wash and wear and wear and wash.

As worn

The gent here is 6'1", 12 stone, and is as standard a 38 as ever there was. He's wearing a size S here, and it is just about perfect — with room for thicker layers, sure, but also trim enough to be worn happily with less.
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 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

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-cotton in March 2018.