Brown’s beach fabric, a unique wool-cotton blend, was developed in 1901 for general outdoor use. This hard wearing, water repellent, slightly elasticized fabric was sewn up into simple vests and jacket styles which are still being made today by Japanese repro brands like Okayama Denim and Sugar Cane Co. One can also source original, historical versions on ebay or through second hand, vintage hand dealers. Here’s a maroon Brown’s vest from the 1940s that sold for three thousand dollars on ebay. According to this terrific post by Vintage Workwear, Brown’s Beach is the fabric that kept Admiral Byrd warm at the South Pole (“the best buy in warmth and comfort ever known”).
Sugar Cane vest at Reveille (now closed heritage shop in Portland, Oregon)
I first encountered the amazing Brown’s Beach fabric during a recent trip to Reveille in Portland. The shop, which sells Japanese brands like Momotaro, Post O’Alls, Rising Sun and Self Edge, had a few vests and jackets on display. I immediately fell in love with the brown’s beach vest, made by Sugar Cane Co. In addition to the snug, body hugging “monkey” fit, the vest resembled my beloved Woolrich, four pocket Railroad vest.
Hefty, two ply weave with fuzzy, fleece facing
Brown’s Beach Lapel Jacket
Sugar Cane Lapel Jacket