Waistcoat in Herdwick tweed in dark sheep

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Buying

£340.00 — ex VAT

Waistcoat, made in London, with a heavy (28oz) tweed woven in Scotland — in a mill inside an old boat-shed on the Morayshire coastline, no less, operated every step of the way singlehandedly using weaving contraptions of Victorian heritage — using the natural, undyed wool of Herdwick sheep from the Lake District.

Sizing

The waistcoat fits true to size, and is intended to be neat and close-fitting. The mannequin here, then, with his unwavering 40 chest, is wearing the waistcoat in his usual size of M.

XS S M L XL
To fit chest 36 38 40 42 44
Pit-to-pit 19 20 21 22 23
Back length 25¾ 26 26¼ 26½ 26¾
This is a waistcoat — or vest, depending on your outlook on these matters. It is short, fastens with a single button, and has a fixed collar. The thinking with the lapel — which stops at the shoulder seam — is that by not running around the back, the jacket worn over the top will be able to sit more flat and cleanly.
The back of waistcoat is made with cloth different to the front — a worsted wool, springy and strong, and woven with yarn, much like the front, undyed and natural. Being nowhere near as thick as the tweed front means the waistcoat doesn't bulk up the back of the wearer when a jacket or coat is worn atop.
The single button which sits astute, alone, at the front of the waistcoat is a large one, made of horn, and dark in colour and matte in finish.
The button at the front of the vest isn't all alone in fastening duties, in point of fact, because there is, at the back, a belt, emanating from the rear seams. It is fixed down until it reaches the darts running down the back of the body (and which give the waistcoat some shape) and fastens with two brass loops.
There are four pockets at the front, all of them jetted, with pocket-bags stitched through to the front — not that you can easily see with cloth as hairy as this — and all but one covered with flaps whose corners are slightly rounded.
There's a pocket on the inside of the waistcoat, too. It's one of those subtle, sideways ones, which is tucked into the join of the inside-front and inside-back panels. The pocket is lined with slinky satin — as, indeed, is the back panel of the waistcoat, enabling it to be slinked on without a fraction of friction.
Pray you never run into some Herdwick sheep on a dark night in the Lake District. They're a tough, rough breed, see, and the character which sees them endure the wind and rain of Cumbria at 3,000 feet finds its way into this cloth. It's a heavy, coarse, wiry tweed, very much at one with the great outdoors.

As worn

The gent here is 6'1", 11 stone, and as standard a 38 chest as you could ever hope to meet. The waistcoat he's wearing here, however, is a size M, because he is wearing a particularly thick shirt — bordering on a jacket — underneath.

Makers of

The waistcoat is made at an outerwear factory in London: the best, many agree, in the capital. It is cut by the hands of a cutter with some 30 years in the trade, and sewn by one of four seamsters whose meticulousness and pursuit of perfection would be caricature were the end results not always so good.
The tweed is woven with wool shorn from Herdwick sheep — a breed native for millennia to the Lake District: rumoured to have first found their way to the Britain when the Vikings were in town. It is gnarly and thick yarn, and requires great skill and willpower to get it to do even close to what you'd want.
It is woven on a foot-powered loom built when George V was still feeling his way into the job, in a boat-shed on the banks of the Moray Firth, and is operated by a weaver whose weaving prowess has taken her almost as far around the globe as the miles clocked up every year in pedalling that loom.
Every now and then along comes a cloth which reminds you why you do what you do; cloth special in and of itself, infused not only with a big hit of lanolin, but origin and provenance — and by extension an invisible-but-there presence and authority — worth blathering on about. This is one such cloth.
The back of the waistcoat, meanwhile — the yarn for that comes from the backs of white-face Cheviot sheep in North Yorkshire, and is spun, washed, and woven at textile facilities, all within a small radius around the boundary North and West Yorkshire.
The brass hardware is made by a foundry in the West Midlands, which was founded in the 1800s. It is the last such foundry in an area once heaving with them. Its sand-casting method — which sees 940°c molten brass poured by hand from a crucible into sand-made moulds — is ancient and infallible.
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

Thanks so much, and thanks for not pointing out I've now purchased this waistcoat in three different fabrics, as I'm pretty sure my wife will have discovered. I've been a fan for quite a while, but with this waistcoat, I feel like you've outdone yourselves ⁠— functional, rugged, and flattering.

So said a man in the States who bought the waistcoat in canopy cotton (and others prior) in August 2018.