Outdoor Gear Is More Than Just A Fashion Statement; It's A Way To Stay Warm And Dry
G. Bruce Boyer
From the Print Edition:
Demi Moore, Autumn 96
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Naturally, a firm with such tradition and expertise takes dressing for the occasion very seriously. Which is why it eventually produced its own range of country clothing: it wanted the best. The apparel, from broth-of-the-heather tweed jackets to handsome loden stalking capes, is the epitome of English sophistication: superior craftsmanship, highest quality fabrics, unsurpassed refinement of design.
The tweeds for the shooting jackets, breeks and field capes (£395/$606, £165/$253 and £425/$652, respectively) are as rugged and beautiful as the Highlands from which they come. Country shoes and boots (priced from £350/$537) are made from the finest calf leathers, "stuffed with oils," as the company succinctly puts it, to ensure they are waterproof; and shooting stockings in the most glorious colors are individually hand-knitted (from £45/$69 to £60/$92). The firm's field jackets are absolute paragons of the form, done in several versions--rubberized or dry wax cotton with snap-in loden lining, bonded tweed, reversible rubberized cotton, and quilted tweed or loden--all with heaps of pockets (£275/$422 to £445/$683). There are also perfect wool challis ties with game designs (£55/$84), tattersall waistcoats (£125/$192), tweed caps and felt hats (£45/$68 and £85/$130) and wonderful marled cashmere sweaters (from £350/$537 to £450/$691). The last word in estate dress.
16 East 53rd Street,
New York, New York 10022
While Hunting World carries a variety of tasteful clothing and accessories from handbags and beautiful silk scarves to wristwatches, it has been best known for three decades for its luggage and safari clothing. Store originator Bob Lee developed the "Battue" fabric during his years in Africa, when he became dissatisfied with other luggage material. Battue is a three-ply nylon fabric with a polyurethane coating, a shock-absorbing foam core and a nylon jersey inner layer; very protective in even the most extreme conditions. There are dozens and dozens of styles, from a small waist pac, tote or mini-pouch ($235, $757 and $500, respectively), to suit pacs, classic duffels and safari bags ($915, $710 and $857). The most extensive selection of quality cotton safari jackets (about a dozen different models, starting at $145) and shirts (from $85), as well as the real thing in a safari hat: impala brown felt with a 3 1/4-inch raw-edged brim and beige pleated puggaree band ($110).
1711 Blue Hills Drive, Box 12000,
Roanoke, Virginia 24012-8001
and 21 other locations throughout the United States and England.
Orvis has been accoutering field-and-stream sportsmen for more than a century, has its own fishing and shooting schools (800/235-9763 for information), and even offers a toll-free help line for technical questions about those sports (800/778-4778). While the firm has recently devoted more of its catalog to women's casual clothing, rustic home furnishings and pet paraphernalia, it still does a nice selection of sporting attire and accessories. Particularly noteworthy is the fine line of "Battenkill" canvas-and-leather kit bags: four sizes of duffels (from $139 to $225), club bags ($195 and $215), garment bags ($195) and Gladstone carryalls ($110), as well as bottle cases, rolling Pullmans, field bags, salt- and freshwater rod cases, camera bags--even a bag for your personal computer--if you must take the office with you! Also available is a range of nine-ounce bull-hide hunting boots and shoes by Gokey: fisherman shoes ($145), snake-proof boots ($395), hiking boots ($155) and camp moccasins ($135).
James Purdey & Sons (Accessories Ltd.)
84 Mount Street,
London W1Y 5HH
Next door to its famous Purdey Gun Shop at 57-58 South Audley Street, James Purdey & Sons has a shop devoted to a wide range of shooting clothes and accessories. Shooting coats come in a variety of fabrics--loden ($400), tweed ($530) and weatherproofed cotton ($210)--and they are everything one could want in craftsmanship and design. The selection of waxed cotton clothing includes shooting coats ($210 for medium weight, $250 for heavyweight), overtrousers ($80), hats ($30 to $134) and overskirts for the ladies ($150). You can also find hunting breeks in tweed, moleskin and corduroy ($110 to $179); a good selection of cloth hats and caps; wonderful rubber boots (including the Vierzon leather-lined, side-zipper model, at $300); gloves and sweaters.
W.C. Russell Moccasin Co.
285 S.W. Franklin Street,
Berlin, Wisconsin 54923-0309
Founded in 1898, the W.C. Russell Moccasin Co. produces more than 50 styles of handmade moccasins, boots and casual shoes--both in stock and made-to-order. Many hunters say that the popular nine-inch "Bird Shooter" is the best lightweight, all-purpose hunting boot ever made: uppers of water-proofed leather, single vamp construction, handsewn toe seams, oak leather midsole and counters, as well as traction rubber soles ($165, made-to-order; $220 in waterproofed French veal--calfskin--leather). The 18-inch snake boots are handsewn works of art in 10-ounce bull-hide leather ($325 made-to-order), as is the kangaroo chukka (double vamp construction, closed gusset, crepe soles, glove leather lined, $166 made-to-order). A variety of comfortable casual camp moccasins with or without soles are also available.
808 Smith Avenue, P.O. Box 2055,
Thomasville, Georgia 31799-2055
Last year, Stafford's celebrated its 50th year as a supplier of hunting and other outdoor apparel and gifts. Clothing includes Lewis Creek shooting jackets and vests, selections of luggage by Filson (22-ounce oil-finished canvas and saddle leather duffels and shooting bags from $85 to $205) and Holland Sport (Latigo saddle leather English field bags, anglers bags, weekend bags and gun cases from $155 to $450). A variety of English-made shooting sticks ($115 to $130), traditional and ranch-style cotton poplin brush trousers with reinforced canvas leg facings ($62 to $69), leather-faced whipcord hunting trousers ($200), poplin shooting shirts with suede gun patches on the shoulder to cushion your shotgun or rifle ($40) and cotton moleskin quilted shooting jackets ($210) are some of the outstanding items. There is also an extensive sportingbooks library.
10 Old Bond Street,
London W1X 3DB
Swaine Adeney has been trading in London since 1750 and has held a royal warrant since it was first granted one by King George III. Suppliers of whips and other riding equipment to 10 successive monarchs, the family-run business now includes riding clothes and kits, casual clothing, gifts and accessories, and its famous umbrellas and canes. The travel umbrella, with detachable handle and tip, is the best of its kind (priced at around £145/$223). A complete selection of the estimable green Wellie country boots (£49/$75), country checked shirts in wool-and-cotton (£65/$100) and soft-as-chamois moleskin shirts (in lovat, fawn and olive, at £79/$121), and hard-wearing corduroy trousers (in dark green, corn and navy, at £81/$125) are some of the more notable items. The firm is also good for those heavy-ribbed, military-styled sweaters with the suede elbow and shoulder patches (£107/$165).
Willis & Geiger
1902 Explorer's Trail,
Reedsburg, Wisconsin 53959
Willis & Geiger first published a catalog just last year, although the firm has been making wonderful outdoor clothing for more than 90 years. It has outfitted such famous sportsmen as Teddy Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway; explorers Sir Edmund Hillary, Charles Lindbergh and Adm. Richard Byrd; and a host of other high-wattage personalities such as generals Douglas MacArthur and Jimmy Doolittle, and actor Clark Gable. The firm's all-time coup is its legendary "Type A-2" brown horsehide flight jacket that it first designed for U.S. Army fighter pilots in the 1930s and which was used extensively during the Second World War. The original and authentic jacket is still available--brass zipper, merino wool waist and cuff ribbing, stitched epaulets and all--at $368 to $388. Recommended for warm-weather wear are the firm's 340-count cotton poplin clothing: bush jackets ($120), trousers ($76), shirts ($66 and $84), fishing vests ($178) and its "Professional Outdoorsman" jackets (with eight very practical pockets, recoil pads, epaulets, bi-swing back--for greater freedom of movement--gusset cuffs and concealed hood, at $188). Cold-weather coats include goose down parkas with waterproof and windproof shells ($278), quail coats with button-out wool linings ($288) and substantial shearling hooded parkas that look like they could take the Arctic in complete composure ($788).
G. Bruce Boyer is the author of Eminently Suitable (W.W. Norton, 1990). A New Generation of Fabrics
Leave it to the Italians to design the perfect blend of fashion and function. Two of the world's leading textile and clothing manufacturing firms-- Ermenegildo Zegna and Loro Piana--have introduced new fabrics this year, the results of advanced research in material technology.
Zegna has been a world leader in prestigious fabrics for most of this century. Since the 1960s, it has been producing its own line of handsomely tailored clothing and sportswear. This spring the firm introduced its "Yachting" collection of outerwear--from winter to summer--made from a new cloth called Microtene 10.000. A superthin polyester fiber is used to produce a yarn of extraordinary lightness--much finer than silk, a mere kilo of it would stretch around the equator--which means it can be densely compacted, allowing it to be both porous and virtually waterproof.
The fabric has a very pleasing peach-skin feel, the result of an emery-polished finish, and the garments perform exceptionally well in the wet and cold. The various jacket styles are so handsome they can serve admirably as outerwear around town.
The firm of Loro Piana has created another breakthrough cloth. Its truly remarkable patented "Storm System" all-weather fabric guarantees warmth, lightness and protection from wind and rain. Loro Piana used its expertise in spinning, weaving and finishing techniques to exploit the natural thermal properties of the finest cotton, wool and cashmere. Then, working with U.S.-based Gore Technologies, a world leader in the field of synthetic polymers that developed a special microporous membrane for an all-weather lining, Loro Piana created a new generation of outerwear fabrics.
These fabrics have been taken up by such fashionable firms as Faconnable, Brioni, Canali and Armani for raincoats, parkas, sports jackets and other outerwear, as well as a line from Loro Piana that includes riding and field jackets (originally designed for the Italian equestrian team). This is sumptuous, high-performance gear, guaranteed to retain a dry and elegant appearance even in the most challenging weather.
--GB Custom Shooting Suits
If you were thinking of having a nice tweed shooting suit custom made, the chap to see is Leonard Logsdail, an English gentleman and one of the finest tailors on Savile Row, but now practicing his art of bespoke cutting in New York City.
"We used to do tweed shooting suits on a regular basis in London, and I still do several every season over here," says Logsdail. "We prefer what I call 'working tweed,' stout 18-ounce thorn-proof cloth that can stand up to the rigors of the hunt. The second criterion is comfort: we provide bellows pockets, bi-swing back, suede gun patch, throat latch, even an inside hare pocket with a waterproof lining in the jacket if the customer wants. And since the swing of the gun is the most important movement in the field, we want to make sure the back rides free and that the sleeves are slightly longer for breaking in. On the plus fours we can do strap-and-buckle knee fasteners or Velcro, whatever the customer wants."
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