Workwear clothing shop, Charleville-Mezieres, France
Welding a rack at Cycles Gilles Berthoud
I’ve been a longtime admirer of the restylized, Kempel-brand blue work jackets sold by the Japanese web shop, Explorer. This style of jacket has a tailored yet unstructured look w/a button-up front and three or four open pockets (Jacquie Bonner revision: all jackets should have at least three external pockets). Unlike American work clothing, it lacks zippers, pleats or fussy design details which might limit its use for everyday (non-work) wear. Several years ago, the Explorer shop sold a Harris tweed version of the Kempel jacket which could have doubled as a snazzy dress jacket. I’m still searching my image archives for a photograph of that jacket model.
In France, I tried to buy my own blue work jacket. I couldn’t locate the Kempel brand and what I ended up purchasing was made out of cheap cotton and had a bad, boxy fit. In the end, I repurposed the jacket as a lab coat for processing film.
In the theatrical treatment of my workplace, everyone would wear blue Kempel work coats over snappy tweed blazers, plus fours and cordovan loafers (or tweed Kempel work jackets over khaki suits and Crockett and Jones Coniston boots).
Bill Laine of Wallingford Bicycle Parts was kind enough to permit me to reprint a few photos of Pierrot, top mechanic at (bicycle frame and bagmaker) Gilles Berthoud, wearing his own blue coat in situ. A full image set of Bill’s visit to Gilles Berthoud can be viewed here.