Monday, 8 October 2012

Outdoor clothes - a very British heritage

Traditional weatherproofs are made from natural materials; closely-woven cotton such as Ventile and Grenfell or the oiled cotton used or made by Barbour, Belstaff and British Millerain. British-made, they have recently had a significant revival and been much copied. With winter fast approaching, over the next few weeks I'll look at what is available to the man of style wishing to recreate an outdoor heritage from British-made or designed garments.

Their origins lie in sailors' oilskins, canvas proofed with linseed oil, and also with the British love of outdoor activities - field sports, mountaineering, exploring, motor sport - in all weathers.

Closely woven cotton, Ventile or Grenfell, is wind and water-proof
They offer much in the way of comfort over modern fabrics such as Gore-Tex or SympaTex. While admittedly less water resistant than hi-tec materials, a cotton-based jacket is softer, more robust and quieter when worn. Its design owes less to mountaineering or rambling, so it's as wearable on city streets as on the grouse moor. I remember some twenty years ago I would wear a Barbour waxed jacket (I have it still) with my city pinstripes and highly-polished brogues. There has been a revival of this, led by Barbour's recent massive reincarnation.

As with most clothing classics there is an interesting heritage recorded in old photographs - find what inspiration you can here.

The oldest jacket in the Barbour archive - 1910

Royalty and waxed jackets
Steve McQueen in Barbour

Barbour and the Royal Navy
Che Guevara in Belstaff

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