Fashion Magazine

The Makings of a Jacket

By Dieworkwear @dieworkwear

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Nigel Cabourn had a nice entry on his blog a few years ago about what goes into the process of designing a garment. Like with everything, it starts with an idea – an idea, a theme, or historical event for which his team compiles “a mood board.” This board is made up of photographs or pieces of literature that they’ll use to direct their search for vintage garments. Many will already be in Nigel’s extensive archive, but if not, he has relationships with numerous vintage garment dealers around the world who might have something in storage.

Once the team has their necessary pieces, they play what they refer to as “Mr. Potato Head.” That is, they take details here and there in order to form a new garment. Though their designs are original, it’s important to them that they always stay true to their historical inspirations. That’s why there’s so much work that goes into creating the fabrics, fastening devices, pocket detailing, etc.

From here, they work with their various suppliers and manufacturers to re-create these parts, which they then assemble into prototypes that they’ll take to tradeshows. Orders are collected, production runs are met, and the shipments are then sent out to stores. That’s, of course, where we the consumers finally get to see them.

The process was documented for one my favorite pieces of outerwear: Nigel Cabourn’s lined Surface jacket. It’s one of the best casual pieces of rainwear I’ve ever seen. The throatlatch and hood, I admit, are details I’ll rarely use, but they lend a very strong, masculine detail when worn. The angled chest pocket allows for easy entry with one’s opposite hand, and the two hip pockets have fold-over covers that doubly protect one’s possessions from any rain that could leak in. When buttoned and belted up, it looks a little bit like this jacket in Tommy Ton’s photo.

I’m not handsome enough to wear casual garments with neckties, so I’ve been wearing my Surface jacket with a Mister Freedom utility shirt, Buzz Rickson loopwheel sweatshirt, and pair of 3Sixteen SL-100x jeans. Accompanying footwear is either Brooks Brothers’ shell cordovan boots or Crockett and Jones’ Conistons. Yes, it’s a bit workwear in sensibility, which I suppose contradicts the name of this blog, but let me tell you: this jacket is awesome. 


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