Tuesday, 6th August 2019
You just have to admit, sometimes, that things have run their course. It’s time for a change, you think, even though it’s not clear at first quite why.
Now, on that note, there is nothing wrong at all with the car coat. It is about the oldest coat in the collection, yes — dating back to 2012, which in fashion years is Cretaceous. But that’s not a problem in itself. And it isn’t that it isn’t still doing alright. You know, in terms of being popular, in the commercial sense. Looks the part, still, too: its design has aged exactly as intended, which is to say it hasn’t. In fact, the car coat has served as best-practice template, directly and otherwise, for all other outerwear developments since it first arrived on the scene. Lines, shapes, proportions, that sort of thing. If anything, it has passed on its genes too successfully; nurtured its offspring too well for its own good. The anorak, for instance, has its round-the-body apron. The trench coat has its one-piece sleeve. Its simple and single-breasted “sort of like a mac” identity is assumed very ably now by the balmacaan. And, as it looks round the room, it will see offshoots of its rounded collar everywhere, from field shirt to work jacket to trench. Which must feel nice. But, for the car coat, it also means it has inadvertently rendered itself if not entirely redundant, exactly, then certainly ripe for top to bottom and inside and out mid-career reinvention.
However, the car coat as it is today is not without its fanciers — for which one and all are grateful beyond words — and has brought pleasure to many over the years in its various incarnations, with its Ventile heyday — L24, L19, Ripstop, Canvas — and recent outing in weatherproof ripstop the highlights. And fear not. Some things will stay the same. Like the length. 35″. You know: car coat length. And, actually, just the length. Only the length. Otherwise, the baby is very much out with the bath-water. The plan is to make the car coat more of an actual car coat: more in the spirit of the car coats which roamed the land in the early second-half of the last century — with prominent cross-body seams, pockets both high and low, and with lapels almost as wide as the men what wore them, such that the most confident of them (the coats) resembled single-breasted and quite often leather peacoats, like what they probably wore in The Sweeney. You will get all that with the new car coat, albeit going easier on the lapel, being as we live now in more conservative times.
Yes — all that and more besides. One thing that always went down well with the car coat was the windmillingly wide range of movement made possible by its generously cut raglan sleeve. The new one won’t have that. Instead, its sleeve will be set-in like on those more traditional car coats. But crikey — it’s amazing what you can achieve with a strap-hanger gusset. That’s the name for the discrete, small, banana-shaped panel, tucked into the armpit, which endows a disproportionately grandiose amount of upward lift, allowing the wearer to reach up without the body of their coat being stretched in any way out of shape. This is good for the wearer. Not just the gusset, but all of it, hopefully, whether judged by style or by substance. Good for the car coat, too, though it might not see it just yet, what with it physically and figuratively right now being picked apart at the seams.
This work on the car coat is uncharacteristically proactive. It isn’t part of any plans for this year, as the post-summer pipeline is bulging unbecomingly already with things suffixed coat. 2020, then. That’s the plan. Unplanned is the cloth. Ventile? Nope: not any more. Weatherproof ripstop, then? Possibly. Canopy cotton? Also possibly. Something brand new, befitting in mind, body, and soul the spirit of new beginnings? Even better.