September 2015 — March 2016

One of the many things you can make with about four yards of heavy worsted duffle cloth, four handmade horn toggles, and a few feet of jute rope is a duffle coat. It is, on the face of it, a mostly traditional sort of duffle, but there are a few breaks with tradition: most notably the part-inset, part-raglan split-shoulder construction.

It stands to reason that the balmacaan, being colloquial in places hilly and remote in Scotland for “walking coat”, wouldn’t look much out of place in the Highlands: heavy herringbone tweed, deep welt pockets, collar which goes all the way over the chin. Not unwelcome when the going gets drizzly here in the lowlands, either.

In its default state, the hat — felted and blocked in England — looks rather like a bowler. Pinch, push, or pull the crown, though, and you have a fedora, a homburg, or any shape of your invention. The nature of the felt is unique, see, in that it can be moulded, again and again, before being popped back into its initial bowler style.

The peacoat is an annual exercise in finding the very best heavy tweeds from across the British Isles. This time around comes a birdseye tweed from the Inner Hebrides in Scotland: a fifty-fifty split of dark-brown yarn from local Hebridean sheep in the flush of youth, and a silver-grey yarn from pension-collecting ones.

These here gloves are made by hand in the centuries-old crucible of English glove-making: a place which has cut and sewn deerskin into finger-shaped form since George III was a lad. They are hand-stitched — an undertaking of some six hours — and are lined with very fine cashmere, knitted in the Scottish Borders.

These gloves, meanwhile, though they too are deerskin, and made though they are by the same such venerable glove-maker, have a back of organic box-tweed, which is woven with the undyed yarn of three breeds of sheep, in the Inner Hebrides. It the same tweed, indeed, as the SB2 jacket worn here and, an all-grey variant, below.

The SB2 jacket has one button more than the SB1, and one fewer than the SB3. It is worn here with matching standard trousers — both are made with grey-brown three-sheep twill from the Inner Hebrides — and a melange-twill cotton shirt, with the button-loop Kelly collar.

This is a frame for spectacles, made in London from cotton acetate and gold. They are made by hand, and are the result of over one-hundred mostly very difficult and precise operations — from carving and filing and buffing the front, to bumping the bridge, to coiling the 14-karat cable-sides on a machine invented in 1933.

The hood jacket has never been more winter-ready — made as it is with a new type of cloth from the water-haters at Ventile in Lancashire: a luggage-weight variety of their classic weather-proof cotton, equivalent in heft to 15oz canvas, but with all the same hydrophobic super-abilities as standard strains of Ventile.

The cardigan is hand-framed in the south-west of the Isles, and is this time made with cashmere-cotton; the former — yarn the most fine calibre — taking the lion’s share of the blend. And note: it takes only six muscles to smile, and only a couple more to appear thoroughly at-ease in an overshirt (below) of a knit-woollen twill.

From the Heavy Woollen District of West Yorkshire, for the second successive year, comes this wool-merino twill. Both jacket (the SB3 variety) and trouser (the standard type) made with the cloth have a clever knack of being supremely soft and warm — that will be the merino part of the blend — and pleasingly resistant to creasing.

The novelty with the reversible overshirt is not that it is reversible, nor that it is made with diamond twill from West Yorkshire, nor that it has six pockets unnoticeable to all but the most perseverant frisker, nor that its shape is balanced to a degree so perpendicular you can play billiards off the chest. No — it is its reversible buttons.

Worn erstwhile

    • March — September 2021
      The debuts of the duster, the smock, the DB, and the knitted t-shirt make a mockery of the notion that less (clothing) is more in the warmer weeks of the year.
    • October 2020 — February 2021
      Many old-stagers from autumns and winters past — the duffle coat, the balmacaan, the peacoat, and the donkey jacket — made returns in refined form.
    • April — September 2020
      From the poolside (the popover) to the coast (the boatneck) via the railroad (the engineer) — the only way to travel (literally) during a pandemic lockdown.
    • September 2019 — March 2020
      The tielocken and peacoat found their feet in new heavy woollens from the south and north respectively, while the balaclava, gansey and cooks jacket made their debut.
    • March — August 2019
      The return of cotton airweave from east Lancashire, and a cloth from North Yorkshire that really puts the local into locally made two-ply tropical worsted.
    • November 2018 — February 2019
      The tielocken and parka joined the trench in the big-coats-with-belts aisle, while the bal returned in tweed from a mill whose loom was built by the local coffin-maker.
    • August — October 2018
      Weatherproof ripstop and tropical worsted, the debut of the field coat, and a cavalcade of cotton knits were the talk of the workshop in the warmer parts of 2018.
    • October 2017 — July 2018
      Heavyweight outerwear galore — with the old guard of trench coat, peacoat, duffle coat, and balmacaan, joined by the topcoat, donkey jacket, and flight jacket.
    • July — September 2017
      New textures for what are quaintly called the warmer months of the year — like a two-ply birdseye, replicating cloth of the 1920s, and a Flyweight flavour of Ventile.
    • September 2016 — June 2017
      Angora, peccary leather, melton, cotton and linen with some wool mixed in, even some blanketing — a melting of materials for an unusually warm end to the year.
    • April — August 2016
      Texture, let it be known, is a quality tricky to come by in the warmer months, here in the British Isles. But look — hopsacks, tuck-stitches, and herringbones galore.
    • September 2015 — March 2016
      The heavy Donegal tweed balmacaan made its debut, as did the heavy duffle coat and, indeed, the heavy fur-felt hat. Lots of heavy things, then, for the colder months.
    • March — August 2015
      New linens came to the forefront: linen from the south coast of Ireland; linen hand-woven in the Outer Hebrides; linen knitted into crewnecks and cardigans.
    • September 2014 — February 2015
      Cloth development came thick and fast: yarn-dyed Ventile at the start of the period, and tweed made with organic and heritage fleece in the Inner Hebrides at the close.
    • January — August 2014
      Along came the SB1 jacket in hand-woven indigo cotton, the link-stitch crewneck and cardigan, the porkpie Ventile cotton hat, and a brace of cottons from Lancashire.
    • September — December 2013
      The cotton-twill trench coat rounded the year off, but before that came the peacoat and SB3 in Donegal's finest, as well as lambswool knitwear both heavy and light.
    • January — August 2013
      The first half of the year began with the three-button Tetris tweed blazer and concluded with an assortment of corduroy and cotton numbers — plus some shorts.
    • August — December 2012
      Heavyweight tuck-stitch jumpers, the wool-tweed peacoat made with the one-man-mill, and the debut of both the reversible jacket and the Ventile mac.
    • December 2011 — June 2012
      Early spring was met by the British Millerain dry-wax and cashmere mac, and kept busy with the linen suit, new tour jacket, and two-button neat jacket.
    • August — November 2011
      The last few months of 2011 witnessed the release of the chalkstripe-wool seam overshirt, the hopsack tweed neat jacket, and the birdseye wool-cashmere blazer.
    • February — May 2011
      Spring and early summer saw linen semi-cutaway shirts, the horizontal cord blazer, panama stowaway overshirts, and the cycle-friendly brushed cotton tour jacket.
    • September 2010 — January 2011
      The work jacket made a first appearance in French navy cotton-twill and charcoal wool-cashmere. And, on the knitwear front, Shetland Isle moss-stitch jumpers.
    • May — August 2010
      Five mostly interchangeable garments were made over the middle months of the year: two semi-cutaway shirts, two cotton-drill trousers, and a corduroy overshirt.