Some Guys Are Just Born Slobs…H.I.S 1966

Classic H.I.S advert and incredibly from 1966. This could be a modern ad for the art of dressing UP. not DOWN. However, back in 66 this was the adman’s idea of a real slob. As an aside, the Jack Purcell sneakers were a B.F. Goodrich product back then, a rival to Converse before they took it over and then got eaten by Nike.

That shirt is pretty cool too. There’s so much talk on forums about slim fit items being a modern Urban Outfitters type style, but the reality is that 1960s trousers and shirts were pretty skinny to say the least. And in the US even the businessmen wore their trousers cut at ankle height.

Anyway, I should be such a slob in 2011.

Contemporary isn’t the word.

Laughter in Madras

What’s up with The Weejun then? Last week it was 24 Celsius and I was posting about duffle coats. Today it’s like official winter outside and I’m wearing the end of summer madras (actually a Gant Rugger one I picked up for £20 at their factory store).

Whatever next?

Still yet to wear my 60s deadstock madras Halrin trousers from O’Connells though. Mrs Weejun thinks it’s dangerous to wear such things in the land of rioters. She may well be right.

One You Can Buy: Original Montgomery Duffle Coat

Last week I posted on the search for classic duffle coats and their extraordinary hybrid history and promised details of a coat that I’d found that was a really great mix of the wooden toggles and sisal fastenings of the Gloverall Montgomery with the more wearable 60s style tartan lined pancake hood models.

Duffle coats are one of those odd things that when you search on Google give you hundreds of false positives, shopping sites and the like; not to mention the hundreds of fashion and women’s fashion versions out there. But search I did, and eventually I found a link to a site called UK Duffle Coats where they had some nicely made tartan lined and horn toggled numbers, but then I noticed they also had a vintage looking model with wood toggles. Knee length and avoiding the current skinny fashion of beardy workwear types, the coat looked pretty spot on. To cap it off it was Made in England and incredibly reasonable at £150.

Pretty identical to the model below save for the US version's button in wool liner

This nice vintage ad on the Ivy League Look blog showed a coat that was almost identical.

This was the kind of model I was looking for...

A few days after I found the site I noticed the same company was selling on eBay with free shipping on returns, and eBay being a habit I bought it from there.

The coat arrived the next day, and it was really impressive. Nice detailing and the 40 fit perfectly to size over a jumper (does anyone wears them over a sports jacket these days?) and great proportions. In fact, it looked almost identical in cut to the Baxter clothing ad above from 1962. Then I noticed that the check lining, nice as it was, was different to the image on eBay. Being an irritating perfectionship (bit polite with it) I emailed the seller and got immediate friendly service from their customer dept. A couple of days later, another email to say they found one with the exact tartan I was looking for (a very dark blue and green with red stripe through it, more subdued than the mid-blue below) and they are shipping it off to me as I type.

Wooden Toggles and Sisal Rope Frogging - 4 closures

I’m not certain about the history of the company. They did send me some blurb and it’s safe to say that they have been making duffle coats since the 19th Century at least 60 years before Gloverall claim to have started. I wonder if it was the coat making department of John Partridge that was up for sale some years back by the owners of Thomas Pink and claimed a very similar heritage? (Update: the John Partridge brand is now registered at the same address as The Original Montgomery so that appears to be the case.)

Pancake Hood

Anyway, great to see an affordable English made classic product that hasn’t abandoned all to the fashion of the last five minutes (Baracuta take note!). I’m sure our Japanese friends have not overlooked this product, but you can bet it costs at least four times more in United Arrows or Beams!

Tartan check faced Melton cloth from Italy

Here’s the blurb Original Montgomery sent me:

“Original Montgomery is the oldest surviving company chosen by the British Admiralty in the early 1890`s to make the first duffle coats. The duffle was designed to keep out the worst of weather whilst not restricting the movement of sailors. This first fabric was the same double faced material we use today,double faced to create a true weatherproof barrier. We made duffles for initially the Royal Navy but these were ‘traded’ between officers from the Army and later the Royal Flying Corps. AS a result during WW1 our duffles were made for all services. The first raiders behind enemy lines, the Long Range Desert Group later to become the SAS, used duffles as cover for the cold nights and seat cushions for the days travelling many hundreds of miles across the deserts of North Africa. Today, as in the 1890`s, we make all of our duffles in England – as far as we know the only company that still does.”
I can’t recommend them highly enough. Oh and there’s no blogger freebies involved here either, just a satisfied customer!
You can find their products here at UK Duffle Coats or if you prefer to buy from Ebay their shop can be found here: Coats UK

One You Can Buy: Verginia Shoe Playboys – Japan via Portugal

This site is fast becoming an hommage to the Playboy rather than the Weejun it seems. But perhaps that can be forgiven when the Weejun is fairly ubiquitous and easy to find in comparison to decent playboys.

Well, thanks to a pseudonimous tip off yesterday morning from FNB contributor and fellow crepe sole enthusiast Tom, I was able to order a pair of these Portuguese made playboys from Japanese shoe label Verginia Shoe, (makers of some excellent suede and crepe reissue models such as Clarks Weaver for those so inclined).

The shape of these playboys is much closer to the Original Playboys models but with a touch lighter sole – the OPs I saw in Gothenburg a couple of years back were seriously heavy. Interestingly, the Verginia model retains the leather rolled welt that the crepe foxing is attached to.

Speaking with John Simons on Thursday about this very subject, where to get some rounder toed PBs made up, John said that one aspect of the Sanders models he liked was that they never had any returns for the crepe foxing coming away. That’s because the Sanders are made with pre-formed crepe units, clever, but forcing the toe shape to be only the almond one. Their rounder toe model (that Tom owns) which they make for Trickers to sell in Japan has IMO an uglier pre-formed sole, complete with faked rolled welt grooving.

Whether the Portuguese model will stand up to a lot of wear (to be fair none of the foxed models seem to) will be seen, but meanwhile they are a really nice shoe. Whole sizes only from Oi Polloi and the pair that arrived at 7.30 this morning from them are a tad big as a 10, but definitely a 9 would have been too small.

All in all I think a really nice alternative to the Sanders shoe (their boot still remains a favourite) and the Portuguese know how to make suede and crepe combos – they’ve been at it for decades. Coupled with the hand of the Japanese we have a pretty close replica of the classic Eaton Clubman shoe.

Usual excellent swift service from Oi Polloi by the way…

Verginia Playboy Gibsons from Oi Polloi

Ivy Originals: The Duffle Coat

In the history of 20th Century menswear there are some items that are simply iconic and transcend both fashion and geography. These days most of those items would probably be American – sweatshirts, trainers, jeans just as examples. However, there are a few items that are considered intrinsically British wherever in the world they are encountered. The irony is that most of these designs were commandeered by the British from other cultures. The desert boot for example, linked forever to the late Nathan Clark, was in reality already a staple of Cairo shoemakers as well having a parallel history (albeit in less attractive form) in the Dutch Veldt of South Africa.

The Duffle Coat (or Duffel Coat, Convoy Coat) is another such example. Belgian in origin, the boiled wool cape with hood which protected farmers in all weathers was the logical choice for some bright spark at the Admiralty who, during the First World War, decided that it would be the perfect wear for the Royal Navy’s constant encounter with inclement weather.

Like many an icon, there is a modern trend towards the few (or last) remaining purveyors of garments to claim ownership of the whole concept and none more so than the English company Gloverall. Arguably, Gloverall did most to maintain the position of the duffle coat through thick and thin, and the duffle fashion’s waxing and waning fortunes. But, they didn’t invent the duffle coat.

What seems to have been their greatest contribution was to restyle the military issue coats (which were giant in size to fit over all that uniform gear and made of material as thick as coir doormats) to make them effective and wearable by civilians in peacetime.

The first duffle coat I owned as a conscious adult (forgetting the Marks & Spencer dung brown ‘back to school’ version circa 1975) was a Size 2 monster original Naval issue from the old Silvermans store at the junction of Fortess Rd in Kentish Town. This was back in 1982. I paid £12 for it and it was so huge and heavy that my arms ached after wearing it for a few hours. I was going for that full-on war movie style of brylcreemed hair and submariners roll neck (and a long lost pair of Allison crepe soled natural suede chukkas) and remember clearly accompanying a friend (under great protest from me) who had free tickets to a gig by the Birthday Party at the Zig Zag club in Ladbroke Grove. This was before the term Goth was used, but suffice to say that in a sea of thousands wearing black I was the only one dressed like Trevor Howard in the Third Man. I don’t know who was more ridiculous looking the goths or me.

In its heyday the military duffle was worn by ex-servicemen, beatniks, pre-Mod scooter riders, CND marchers and academics. In movies we had Carl Boehm on his scooter in Rathbone Place in Peeping Tom (Weejun factoid, John Rushton of shoes fame was Asst Editor on that movie!), Dirk Bogarde as Dr Sparrow, Field Marshall Montgomery, Trevor of course, Jack Hawkins and his stoic naval chums, Chet Baker in Italy (see the Marsh – Gaul book) even the chap who returned the stolen Goya painting of the Duke of Wellington in the late 60s was described as ‘scruffy, wearing a duffle coat’. Most of them ablsporting the naval version in camel. Michael Foot was one of the few wearers of the darker shades, black most probably.

In the 1970s it was more likely to be seen on those kids on Grange Hill that were beaten up by Snorkel Parka wearers or the ever ubiquitous Paddington Bear (Weejun factoid John Rushton of shoes fame was Editor on the 70s TV series!)

The civilian versions permeated all walks of life and rare was the schoolchild who didn’t have at least one duffle coat throughout their school years. Colours and fashions came and went, wooden toggles, horn toggles, check linings, corduroy and pile linings (the rare Gloverall ‘Snowdon’ model from the 60s sells for big bucks now). The original coat was of course a camel colour, but followed closely in later popularity by navy blue, loden green, dark brown and for women and kids any rainbow colour.

For years afterwards the only duffle coats that were easy to find were the ones that morphed out of the 70s slimming and shortening of the classic models. With buffalo horn toggles and leather frogging rather than wood and sisal, tartan backed wool/nylon mix and pancake hoods instead of the baggy center seamed naval ones, these are the models that are now so imitated by those reissuing or ‘re-imagining’ (horrible word) the duffle for the Indie crowd. Fred Perry, Baracuta, Gabicci, have all had a pop at the 70s schoolboy shortie model and there are right now endless, mostly hideous, variations on the classic duffle available to the un-discerning masses.

But what of the classic knee length wide bodied, wood & rope number? Well, Gloverall have had their Monty reissue on sale for a number of years now. It’s not like me to say this, but if anything these are too close to the Naval originals in that they are somewhat unwieldy giant sized rigid blankets.

Now, if Gloverall had invented the Duffle Coat, I know myself well enough to say that I probably would have to be a snob about it and get the original. However, post World War Two, the duffle became an icon around the world and reinterpreted in many different subtly different guises.

The main appropriation, and the reason for its appearance here on this site, was of course as an Ivy League style staple. Along the Clarks Desert Boot and Hutton’s Original Playboy chukkas, the duffle coat was the quintessentially English addition to the growing canon of what we now consider to be traditional American clothing.

In my travels I’ve seen some beautiful examples of wearable classics. In Milan and Bologna, in Tokyo and even this year in the beautiful menswear store Branley in Buenos Aires. But they were always pretty expensive and not at the top of the priority list either due to season or otherwise.

However, I’ve just picked up a real beauty, Made in England and what I think is a perfect cross between the two styles, and very close indeed to this 1962 American made model from Baxter Clothing (image courtesy of Ivy League Style blog read their duffle article here)

Below are just a few of the adverts for different models, showing the wide variety of detailing and even provenance. Those boiled wool experts in the Tirol even got into the act. Why not? Loden and horn buttons were long ago a staple of Austro-Italian tailoring.

I’ll soon be posting a ‘One That You Can Buy’ feature for the duffle coat mentioned above, which in my opinion bridges the gap very nicely between Gloverall Monty industrial weight and the 60s/70s tartan lined models.

Click on the images below and use the arrow keys to view Back – Fwd

Just found this for Peter – an alternative shot of Chet in Italy wearing his non-pancake hooded duffle…

Hutton’s Original Playboys Spotted – in 1940!

The other day I was having breakfast watching a fun movie with Fred Astaire and Burgess Meredith called Second Chorus from 1940. The pair play perennial flunkers at an unnamed East Coast Ivy establishment, who run the college big band and make so much money from it they never want to graduate. Until, that is, Artie Shaw comes to town (cue some cod-classical jazz features) and Fred and Burgess try to outdo each other to get the first trumpet chair job in Shaw’s band.

Imagine my surprise when Meredith (who wears a number of college style duds in the film) props a foot onto a coffee table to kick a metronome and there, large as life is a pair of white buck playboy chukkas!

I’ve seen ads for Hutton’s Original Playboys from 1936 but twenty five years before Steve McQueen, Burgess Meredith, the coolest Penguin ever, was already cool.

White or Tan Buckskin with Natural Colour Crepe Foxing. Lovely!

Second Chorus Starring Fred Astaire & Burgess Merdith with Artie Shaw (1940)

Ivy on Campus: Part 2

More Ivy Style campus images, Harringtons (Baracuta and London Fog style), Levis Cords and unusually, tan penny loafers in evidence. Also campus style cat, the must have accessory (along with a monkey, of course).

One Cool Cat...

Switched On Old Harringtonian...

OCBD and Levis Cords...

Do You Think Our Readers Will Believe You're a Jock?

Ivy on Campus: Part 1

I know, I know. I’ve not blogged for months and here I am starting another ‘series’ theme. But The Weejun has been very busy indeed and little time to justice to the topics at hand. I’ve had a hiatus from buying/collecting but like the plant itself, Ivy has been creeping back into my life causing much damage to time and wallet. But in the absence of long written articles, a picture paints a thousand words or some such, so here whilst stock lasts are some classic Ivy style campus images to get the inspiration going from the source.

Shades Indoors...

Feeding That Ivy Monkey...

Ivy Style Meets Skins

Jacks On The Table....