November 2018 — February 2019
The three meters of cloth that go into world-facing parts of the peacoat are woven with worsted-spun yarn, and so have a wonderful lustre about them. No plain duffle cloth or heavy melton this, then. The cloth — which hails from Somerset — is also heavily milled, so those fine strands of yarn are coaxed together, making an already dense cloth denser and denser and, yes, denser yet more still.
The workshop here is obscured by a man wearing a v-neck and scarf made with geelong lambswool, which are both hand-framed and hand-linked in the south-west of the British Isles. Some autumnal-looking cords, too, which you wouldn’t know at first glance, but which fasten at the side with a pleasingly weighty buckle..
A two-ply yarn is twice as strong, springy, and textured as a single-ply yarn. The crewneck in geelong lambswool you see here — it is a whopping ten-ply, and as such scores very highly in any knitwear-themed game of Top Trumps. The profound substance of the thing comes not at the cost of shape or comfort, however.
That's where the painstaking efforts of full-fashioning and hand-linking come in — both of which are many times slower and more difficult to accomplish than standard machine-knitting, but which in the right circumstances bear great reward. On the legs, meanwhile, is the natural and undyed wool of British sheep doing its hirsute, heavy, and faintly hostile thing.
Greater than the sum of its parts, the duffle coat. Eight lengths of rope, four toggles — hand-turned horn ones from Lancashire, naturally — and about three metres of very heavy melton are all that goes into the thing. But that enveloping private reverie of essentially wearing a great big blanket: beyond measure, that.
A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. Yes, yes, but still — the donkey jacket sometimes wouldn't mind rechristening itself the stallion jacket, say, or the thoroughbred racehorse jacket. Besides, with its rather unusual whole-cut upper body and sleeve, what we have here is quite apart from donkey jackets of yore.
It has been said before, yes, okay — but it bears repeating: you really caan with a balmacaan. Made this time around with a hand-woven hopsack tweed from Northern Ireland, and with a five-button front, a two-piece sleeve, and a pair of through-pockets, this is a walking coat which is anything but pedestrian. Ahem.
The field coat doesn’t impose its features: doesn’t turn retrieving your mobile into a memory game; doesn’t insist you take a good look at yourself if this relationship is to go any further. Rather, it is very ready and very able whenever called upon, but is, the rest of the time, quiet and modest and expert at minding its own business.
The hat in felt here is made in the crucible of traditional English hat-making ("hatting" or "hattery") — and unlike most such hats, which are blocked with great amounts of steam into a firm and fixed style, this one is not. It so may be poked or prodded into a new shape — Homburg! Bowler! Trilby! — every day of the week.