Updated: Jan 22, 2019
I always wish I could understand the importance of investing in timeless and durable overcoats earlier in my life.
The problem, however, was that I had been living in cities with very different winter climate for the past few years (namely New York and Boston vs London vs Hong Kong), that there wasn't really the incentive to look for overcoats which I could wear in different places.
But now that I am finally based in London (at least for a little while longer), I could finally visualize a specific weight of the fabric for the overcoat; and also tailors which could translate my ideas into reality (and prevent my ideas from going too far off as well).
For this next series to be featured on my blog, I will be sharing the process of my coat designing project. This features my early inspirations and the designing process, the fitting processes and the amendments to the design that took place during then, as well as the review on the coat after it is completed.
In this particular article, I will be addressing some of the early designs or concepts that I had for the coat, as well as what I have settled with after my first visit to the tailors.
It started off more like a coincidence than something I really planned for.
Some of you who've been following me on Instagram may recall me receiving a lovely double-breasted, belted stormcoat from Grenfell earlier on (picture above). It is truly one of a kind, as its Roaring 20s aesthetic is nothing similar to what you could find in the market these days.
The issue, nonetheless, was that size 36 is still rather large for me, given it is a 'classic-fit' item rather than a 'standard-fit'. (For those who are interested in a size 34, you could actually contact them directly and the coat could still be produced for the same price. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that until I commissioned the overcoat.)
Anyway, this serves as a starting point for the type of overcoat I envisioned -- double-breasted, buckle-belted, and 20s/ 30s inspired aesthetic.
With that said, I went on making quite a few changes to the design for different reasons.
The first aspect concerns the formality of the coat, which could be explained by looking at the fabric and the structure respectively.
Fabric-wise; being someone who resides in London and mostly owns worsted (rather than tweed-y) suits, a tweed coat with alpaca lining just wasn't the most versatile for me at the moment.
Structure-speaking; despite raglan-sleeves are highly favored by menswear enthusiasts lately, the fact that it provides too much room around the chest just wasn't suitable for a slimmer man like me.
So all of these factors led me towards more of a Polo coat/ Ulster coat direction. Set-in-sleeves with an inward pleat in the back for the structure, and traditional camel hair for the fabric (picture below) as a way to pay tribute to the classic Polo coat.
The second aspect is about the design of the collar.
Now that the coat won't be alpaca-lined anymore, the alternative way which I could achieve that 20s/ 30s luxurious touch would be adding an extra layer of shearling or even fur over the collar.
My inclination is that rather than having the fur or shearling permanently attached to the collar, I would have it detachable so I would be able to flick up the back collar, like the gentleman on the right in the second illustration below.
The only issue which I was rather uncertain was how big I want the fur/ shearling to be. I suppose this is a rather challenging issue because while a Mac collar would work better if the fur/ shearling is only covering the back collar, you would have a rather flat collar for the 'asteroid belt' type of fur/ shearling (below: third picture from the left)
In any case, however, this could be sorted out later when I brought the idea to my tailor.
As such, I would be contacting my tailor Emily from Whitcomb and Shaftesbury, for not only they have done a wonderful job on my bespoke cream cavalry twill trousers (Check out the first-fitting process here), but also they would be one of the fewer ones who could finish producing the garment before winter ends.
It is in such circumstances which we finalized some designing details such as using the 19M horn buttons and a champagne-colored satin lining to complement the texture of the fabric.
The design of the coat would surely evolve along with the fitting process with the realization of what could and could not be achieved, but this is a good starting point in any case.