A Coat for All Seasons
Josh Sims discovers that Gieves & Hawkes' AW17 collection has a coat to suit any occasion, whether you are in the country or on the train to work.
At first a technical parka - in ruby red, made from a treated cotton and silk blend - seems like an unlikely coat to come from Gieves & Hawkes. A more expected option might be the super-smart navy cashmere Melton topcoat, with its fly front and revere collar.
"That’s the kind of coat that evokes what Gieves & Hawkes is," agrees Edward Finney, the company’s senior designer. "It’s that luxurious, very formal style."
So why, for Gieves & Hawkes' Autumn/Winter 17 collection, is it venturing into the kind of outerwear more commonly found on a brisk country walk, rather than on a damp day in Mayfair? It’s all part of the diversification in coats that reflects the changing ways in which we wear them. "And it would be crazy of us not to roll with demand for more technical, high-performance fabrics," says Finney. "People are less forgiving about coats now. They want something that keeps the bad weather out entirely, and then dries quickly."
However, most coats in the new collection are in timeless styles: trench coats and covert coats, greatcoats and – taking a nod to Gieves & Hawkes' heritage in tailoring for the navy – peacoats, with a quilted shooting coat along the way. "As well, of course, as a super-clean, no frills mac, in fly-fronted or button-through versions," enthuses Finney.
"That’s a look anyone can buy into, because it always looks good."
That, indeed, is an apt summary of the thinking behind Gieves & Hawkes' latest coat collection: always look good. Conscious that a coat is typically a major investment for most men, it has aimed to make its styles as wearable as possible, easily adaptable with a pair of jeans and over a bespoke tailored suit. That’s why the styles are, for example, softer in construction - a charcoal alpaca herringbone topcoat comes with minimal internal padding, for example.
Coats are shorter than before too, with most styles reaching just to the knee. "That traditional long coat is slowly becoming redundant," argues Finney, "in part because it feels less functional now - it gets in the way, makes us feel less mobile, and isn’t so easy to layer up."
"What we’re seeing is the rise of a more semi-formal style," he continues. "It makes for a style that can be worn for all sorts of occasions. Our longer-standing customer still likes to have a very formal option, and we have that" – not least, arguably, the midnight-blue cashmere fly-fronted covert coat with notch lapels and pocket flaps – "but others like something that’s more flexible."
Finney points out; a coat offers the single biggest display of cloth in a man’s wardrobe, so there is a great opportunity, for those who want it, to really make a statement. "It’s why some of the punchiest fabrics we’ve used for the Autumn/Winter collection are in the coats," he explains.
From a covert coat in a rich plain claret wool, to a topcoat in a biscuit check and a style in a burgundy and navy windowpane. It’s reversible, just in case you perhaps need a rest from the pattern. Then again, for those who want to make a bigger statement still, Gieves & Hawkes also offers a two-piece suit to match.