Aspirational layering (zippers, webbing, waxed cotton and wool)
For a little winter cheer, I’m reprinting pages from my favorite Barbour print catalog from the early 1990s. Compared to current offerings, the catalog presents a minimalist collection of jackets. Each has a specific, distinctive feature making it unique to the line. Once you memorize this catalog you’ll be able to distinguish between models based on fabric weight (light or heavyweight waxed cotton), lining (wool or cotton), pocketing (size, type and placement), length and snap gusseting (none, double or single). Synthetics are non-existent save for the quilted waistcoats and shooting jackets meant to be worn as jacket liners. The catalog’s visual presentation of the product line is exemplary. Female models are mixed into the story world without overly feminizing their looks. Almost every jacket is paired with a signature bag and breed of dog. For instance, I’m thrilled to see that the Moorland, a Barbour favorite, gets the Weimaraner treatment. Sadly, many of my favorite, more exotic models have disappeared from view including the Solway Zip, Longshoreman smock, Northumbria and Spey wading jacket. Let’s see if we can pester Barbour into bringing a few back in broader size range.
Take a look.
An all time favorite
The pockets on the Border are vast
Proposing a Barbour reissue in sizes down to XXS
I’d like to recreate this bag tangle with my own collection
by Lesli Larson I’ve been wishful holiday shopping for discontinued Filson plaids. In Japan, you can purchase a classic Mackinaw cruiser, vest or matching hat in blue x black buffalo plaid, a fabric that was discontinued by Filson years ago. When I emailed Filson to ask about a custom order in the blue x black plaid, I was told that the fabric would not be available for domestic orders (though lap blankets and tote bags can still be found at Portland Filson).
As a consolation, I’ve been browsing the pages of a Filson catalog I reprinted here last summer (when I was more fixated on poplins and cruiser vests). The catalog taunts me with lost opportunities to own Filson garments that were the best of their kind–the forestry cloth hiking trousers and matching cruiser coat, for example. My latest nostalgic longing is for the red and black plaid cape coat (now only available in predictable greens and greys). I expect that many of the garments pictured below might be resurfacing in Japanese web shops in next year.
Blue x Black Mackinaw Coat
Red x Black Mackinaw Pants
Red x Black Cape Jacket
Original Hunting Vest
I’m including photos of the the original Filson cotton duck hunting vest, a favorite Filson design. The vest has a wonderfully arcane pocketing system and fits (me) like an A-frame tent. It was discontinued a few years ago but brought back by custom request. However, my understanding is that sales remain slow. So, please consider supporting the archival garment cause by purchasing one in 2010.
Now regretting that I waited twelve years to mail in my order for a Zo Gravey Dog messenger bag in black cordura (another synthetic exception). I used to own a small red Zo bag but it lacked the sway strap which kept it from lurching from side to side during vigorous pedaling. I could never locate a replacement strap so I ended up passing the bag along to a friend.
According to the Messenger Bag manufacturers list, Zo Bags are still available by mail order from San Francisco. However, the Zo link leads you to a handwritten note suggesting that bags will only be available for sale, from time to time, via ebay. At the moment, I know that there are many great contemporary messenger bag companies (Lemolo, Bailey Works, Re-Load Baggage, Zugster, for starters). I also know that there is a bit of a Zo backlash because of availability issues (and after-market boutique status?). Nevertheless, I remain fascinated by the 1997 iteration of Zo bags when the entire product line, plus accessories, could be perused on a single sheet of paper (with lots of buffering white space). Navigating the Re-Load site, for example, w/its “music series” dj bags and complex size/style/sale options, makes me long for the visual simplicity, and direct address (see handwritten note), of my 1997 Zo promotional mimeograph.
I emailed Bicycle Fixation founder, Richard Risemberg, to get more information on his made-in-USA (Los Angeles) business philosophy and the idea behind his line of “dress” cycling clothing (suitable for commuting and officewear). Richard wrote back with the following report:
I buy all the materials in downtown Los Angeles, but most of them are made out of the US, as we have very little textile manufacturing capacity left in this country. All the labor is done in Los Angeles, near Broadway and 9th, in fact, in a contract factory that pays its workers a good wage. (In fact, the workers regularly ask me for more money for my complex sewing jobs, and I always sigh and concede….) The herringbone wool is from England; my gabardine may actually be US made; I’d have to check. I know my wool broker was dealing directly with the mill, so it may be from New York. My broker buys leftover rolls from big orders for me, as my quantities are small. I’ve been able to get the same superb gabardine for two years now; a great improvement over the original material.
Never worked in the rag trade, and was fairly indifferent to fashion, in fact. But I wanted some clothes that wouldn’t stand out when I was off the bike but would work well when I was riding, couldn’t find them, and so determined to make my own. Figuring that more people were starting to ride for transportation, and having been a sustainable transportation and urban development advocate for ten years already, I figured to make enough to sell and maybe get some extras cash to support my publishing. My starting point was an old Raleigh bicycle ad from around 1936 or so; the fellow in the drawing was wearing elegant-looking knickers. I took that as a general outline, went to a way-too-expensive custom tailor for the first iteration, and went through a few more iterations of the first product (the Classic Wool Knickers) with another tailor and ultimately with sample makers (whom I was referred to by a neighbor who’d been in the rag trade), hooked up by purest chance with my sewing contractor (whose office was across the hall for my first pattern maker), gritted my teeth, held out my credit card, and made the first batch of knicks. My wife had introduced me to gabardine years before, and we knew that was the right fabric for bike wear of my style.
For those questioning the practical use value, (the “wearability,” as the beer ad would say) of dress knickers–or breeks–I offer you several pages of visual evidence from one of my favorite vintage barbour catalogs:
Recently, I’ve been receiving email requests from readers trying to track down clothing items from the recent past that they regret not buying. The most recent request came from Markley, a reader trying to track down the Barbour Endurance Tweed jacket he declined to purchase from the Upland Trading Company in 2003.
Markley likes the idea of the Endurance Tweed jacket design since it integrates hunting jacket features (technical tweed fabric, an internal zip-up waistcoat and game pocket) into a more traditional style dress jacket.
Markley would love to locate a new old stock version of the jacket or perhaps receive recommendations from other readers about genetic matches from other companies’ product lines.
I might also start an archival petition to Barbour to bring back this jacket.
Markley is a size medium in case anyone has some dead stock lying around in their back bonus room.
From the Autumn/Winter 2003 Range directory (I prefer the moleskin version myself):
And a few additional waterproof breathable style Barbour coats from 2003 that might also be worth tracking down:
When my ship comes in I’m going to order up a full custom cycling suit from the folks at Hebeden Cord Co. Ltd (located, of course, in bespokelandia, Great Britain). First item in my order will be a pair of cycling “plusses” made out of an avantgard blend of twill and–gasp–stretch polyester (for the knee hinge, mind you).
Browsing through the Hebden Cord catalogue I come closest to realizing my central consumer fantasy: mail ordering from the past. The company’s catalogue cover image and product illustrations resemble ads from old singer sewing patterns or department store circular/flyers from the nineteen thirties. I’m sure that if ever do secure my cycling plusses I’ll be instantly transported back to a line drawing countryside scene in which I’m riding a Raleigh 3-speed against against orange acrylic sky.
In a future post I’ll showcase of my personal collection of fabric and leather swatches (a central tenet of my austerity practice–delaying purchase by mulling over an infinite number of customizeable features) including about thirty wool and corduroy samples from Hebden (who lack any sort of web presence and thus require formal written requests by post).
I’m sitting down to place an order from a Hunting World catalogue circa 1968. Hunting World is probably my all time favorite mail order outfit of yore (though it continues today under different ownership w/a heavily Japanese following)(see: http://www.huntingworld.co.jp). The ’68 cataloge includes everything for the upscale/urban Safari lifestyle from zebra skin magazine caddies to springbok hassocks to Danish chromed “supercube” furniture (avaialable w/genuine zebra tops). Not one to decorate with animal skins–I’m primarily interested in purchasing items from Hunting World’s line of outdoor clothing and luggage, namely Kalahari culottes and a rubber lined british game bag. Fortunately, they take payment by telegram.
As part of my austerity kick I’m trying to save money by shopping from myself (retrieving items–vintage!–from my closet and reworking them into newly wearable goods)(chopping them down in length or pinching them in at the sides, monkeydoll style). I’m also conserving funds by placing mental mail orders to the archival clothing stores of yore (see Outdoor Store ad above). Below: excerpt from catalogue page of stylish boys “Extra Wear” jackets featuring wombatine collars and pockets sewn with strong thread.