The Roll Call: Winter Outerwear
The Roll Call: Winter Outerwear
With winter on the way, we picked out five pieces of outerwear
that should come in handy over the months ahead…
The Everest Parka
At the top, we’ve got one of Nigel’s most recognisable and iconic pieces — the Everest Parka. A lot of readers will probably already know the back-story to this masterpiece, but for those who don’t, it was first released in 2003 as part of the Ascent of Cabourn collection and takes inspiration from the infamous down jacket worn by Sir Edmund Hillary during his bold expedition to the summit of Mount Everest in 1953.
Often regarded as the parka to which all others are measured against, the Everest Parka is made in England in a specialist factory dedicated to making world-class down jackets and sleeping bags for mountaineers. Using some of the finest ethically sourced goose down around, the small team fill each panel of the jacket by hand. This down lining is then combined with a tough outer shell made from Ventile — a tightly woven water resistant cotton fabric used on immersion suits during WW2 and RAF cold weather smocks back in the ‘50s.
This level of quality is mirrored in the finer details — the military-spec two-way RiRi zip, those real horn buttons and wooden toggles and that sheepskin trim on the hood are just a few stand-out features in a long list.
If you’re looking for the ultimate ‘no holds barred’ winter parka, fit for serious cold-weather wear — this is the one.
The Cactus Donkey Jacket
Moving from the icy ravines of the Himalayas to the wild frontiers of the American west (via the industrial north of England)… here’s the Cactus Donkey Jacket. The original donkey jackets were designed all the way back in 1888 by a Staffordshire man named George Key, and were initially devised to be worn by the workers digging the Manchester Ship Canal (the name comes from the fact that many people wearing these jackets worked with ‘donkey engines’ — which were large steam powered winches).
The simple, practical design and that warm melton wool was perfect for cold-weather toil, and throughout the 20th century the jacket became a firm favourite amongst miners and dock-workers, and a symbol of the British working class.
Whilst the originals were traditionally black or navy blue, this one features a cactus pattern taken from one of Nigel’s 1980’s designs, and is made from a wool blend from the Italian textile company Lyria.
Other good features include those corozo buttons, that firm collar which is ideal for wearing up on harsh winter days, and those roomy pockets to keep your hands out of Jack Frost’s icy grasp.
The Liam Gallagher Reversible Smock
This one’s pretty special. Created in collaboration with outspoken Mancunian musician and fully-fledged smock-hoarder Liam Gallagher — the Reversible Smock is effectively two big ol’ military anoraks in one.
One on side there’s a cunning three pocket configuration taken from a rare WW2 smock, whilst on the other there’s one big zip pocket which Nigel hoiked from a 1953 expedition smock in his enviable collection. It’s all made from some really tough ripstop cotton and the level of detail is the kind that really needs to be seen up close to truly fathom. Without going too overboard, everything down to that waxed cotton drawstring was specially selected to help reach the pinnacle in parka perfection.
It’s also worth noting that it was made in England – and is very, very limited. If you’re after one of these beauties, it’s probably best not to rest on your laurels too much.
The Classic Cameraman
Next up, we’ve got the Cameraman Jacket. Like the Everest Parka or the Mallory Jacket, the Cameraman is one of Nigel’s time-honoured designs that has been around in various guises for quite a while now.
This jacket takes inspiration from those classic black and white photos of Wilfrid Noyce, a mountaineer, author and occasional poet who assisted Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing on their trek up Everest — and combines the big pockets from an old hunting jacket with the metal clips of a vintage Navy parka. These clasps, sometimes found on old firefighter’s jackets, were originally created as an easy-to-handle glove-friendly alternative to buttons, making them ideal for winter-based adjustment.
This one here is the Classic Cameraman Jacket. The top half is made from tough, water-resistant Ventile cotton, whereas the bottom half is Harris tweed woven by hand in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.
The Zip Parka
And finally, a real understated gem — the aptly-titled Zip Parka. A bit of a ‘wardrobe workhorse’, this is one of those handy garments that works well in pretty much all occasions.
Taking design cues from a vintage British Army WW2 parka, it’s a real no-nonsense year-round jacket with three big bellows pockets on the front and a well-shaped hood.
Fabric-wise, it’s made from waxed cotton. Not only will this do a good job of keeping the rain off you, but it should grow old very gracefully, developing a really tasteful, worn-in look the more you wear it.
And thanks to the relaxed sizing, there’s plenty of room to wear it over a few layers.