The Roll Call: Off-Duty Gear
Without stating the obvious too much, the current lockdown situation the UK (and a large portion of the rest of the world) currently finds itself in has meant everyone has had to adjust to a new way of life.
Living rooms have been converted into make-shift work-spaces, and things that were once taken for granted, like a quick phone conversation with a friend or a short lap around the block, have become more important than ever.
So whether you’re working from home, getting a bit of exercise in your back-yard, or just looking for something to wear whilst you put your feet up and read a book, here are some comfortable and casual garments that you might appreciate.
The humble crew neck sweatshirt is a true design classic. Originally devised as a cotton alternative to itchy wool American football jerseys back in the late 1920s, it quickly outgrew its original purpose thanks to that winning combination of simplicity and comfort.
The Nigel Cabourn version takes inspiration from the sweatshirts worn by the US Army during physical training. It’s made in Portugal from organic loopback cotton, and features that all-important ‘V’ insert on the neck. This feature was originally added to stop the necks of the sweatshirts from stretching out and becoming mis-shaped—a common occurrence during the rough and tumble of US college football.
Like the sweatshirt, the T-shirt is another classic casual item born from genuine function. Whilst it’s hard to imagine a time before the T-shirt, it wasn’t until around the 1900s when it first cropped up. First created for the US Navy, it was designed as an inexpensive and easy-to-clean piece of underwear to be worn beneath their jackets.
Off-duty officers in tropical climates would often wear the garments in their own right as casual clothing, and by the 1950s, thanks to on-screen rebels like James Dean and Marlon Brando, the T-shirt had become a radical tool for the post-WW2 youth to distance themselves from their traditional parents.
Made in Portugal from organic cotton, the Globe Logo T-Shirt features a subtle embroidered logo first used by Nigel back in the 80s, and with that classic fit, is the perfect accompaniment to a pair of jeans or military trousers.
Seen by some as the birth-place of modern rock climbing, Yosemite was where the Stonemasters—the free-spirited band of climbers which inspired this season’s collection—honed their skills.
Nigel’s second collaboration with Element is heavily inspired by Cricket, his label from the 80s, and features plenty of argyle prints, exposed tape detail and crisp colours as a nod to classic sports gear.
One of the key pieces in the collection, the Quarter Zip Track Jacket is a sophisticated piece of sportswear indeed. Not only is it made from some rather nice 500gm loopback jersey, but it’s got a highly useful chest pocket and a big orange cinch waist adjuster on the front. The perfect thing for those evening jogs.
Nice and breezy Italian fabric… a spread collar… a potent print featuring loads of vegetables… shirts don’t come much more relaxed than this, do they?
Taking it’s name from ‘Frankie’s House’, the flat in Saigon which was the base of legendary photojournalists like Sean Flynn and Tim Page in-between assignments, it’s inspired by a Brazilian shirt from the 1960s.
Printed shirts of this style are thought to have originated in the 1920s, when dry goods shops in Honolulu started making lightweight open-collared shirts from Japanese kimono fabric. The full story is pretty long-winded, so to keep things relatively brief, travelling surfers brought the shirts back with them to mainland USA and the eye-catching designs soon caught on as a symbol of laid-back life.
If you’re putting your feet up and enjoying the sun, this is the shirt for the job.
Another standout piece from Nigel’s new Element collaboration, the Taped Training Pants are just as at home lounging on the sofa as they are during the morning work-out.
Not only are these sweatpants particularly comfortable, but thanks to that crotch gusset, they allow for full freedom of movement. That co-branded tape detail down the seams is a nice touch too.
And finally, here’s the WW2 Shorts. Released as part of Nigel’s Lybro collection, they’re the summer-friendly version of the WW2 Pants, and take design cues from the trousers worn by the British Army during the Second World War.
Like the originals, they’ve got a unique asymmetrical patch-pocket configuration, making them perfect for gardening or anything else that requires a bit of pocket-space.
It’s also worth noting that they’re made out of herringbone twill cotton, which has been heavily washed for a tasteful washed-out look.