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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Founded in 1781, Asprey remains under the direction of the Asprey family, having expanded from its origins as a manufacturer of fine dressing and writing cases (its first royal warrant as a supplier of traveling cases to Queen Victoria came in 1862) to jewelry, antiques, decorative gifts and tableware, objets d'art, clocks, watches and silver. The firm began offering shotguns and rifles in 1990, with a wide choice of new, used and made-to-measure guns. But it is the sportsman's wardrobe, accessories and gifts that concern us here. Clothing and gifts for the discerning marksman are designed to be practical and elegant. Asprey furnishes tweed jackets (£350/approximately $537) and shooting breeks (short trousers) (£145/$223), check shirts (£40/$61) and wool challis ties (£40/$61), and wonderful "Windstopper" lined sweaters (£135/$207). The firm also has cartridge magazines (250 shell size) in thistlehide leather (at £650/$998), and cartridge bags (at £65/$100 in green canvas, £175/$269 in thistlehide leather), telescopic design shooting sticks with saddle leather seat (£125/$192), beautiful and practical leather-lined wicker cocktail and luncheon hampers (from £1,100/$1,689 to £1,500/$2,303) for those picnics on the downs and leather-bound game books to record the bag (£155/$238). And for the dandies, hand-painted, 18-carat gold game bird cuff links (£1,950/$2,993).
J. Barbour & Sons
Simonside, South Shields, Tyne & Wear,
NE34 9PD, England
55 Meadowbrook Drive, Milford,
New Hampshire 03055
J. Barbour & Sons has been making fine outdoor clothing for a hundred years. Its specialty is its famous green waterproof and thorn-proof country jacket. Designed in 14 models--from a short, waist-length wading jacket to the calf-length "Burghley" overcoat--each is made of fine, long-staple, oil-proofed Egyptian cotton. All seams are double-rolled, zippers are corrosion-proofed and press studs are solid brass. The linings, collars and cuffs are designed for the best protection and lined with quality corduroy, cotton and wool. Available in heavyweight and lightweight versions, jackets are priced from about $275 to $400. Very pre-synthetic. The firm also stocks a selection of canvas field bags, socks and stockings, tweed hats and caps, knitwear and country shirts.
Freeport, Maine 04033
L.L. Bean is the grandfather of all sports mail-order catalogs. Started in 1912, the year that L.L. himself invented his now legendary rubber-and-leather Maine hunting boot, the company now publishes five outdoor catalogs--Spring Sporting, Summer Sporting, Winter Sporting, Fly Fishing and Hunting--in addition to its more general seasonal ones. Each catalog's hundred-odd pages is chockablock with products for camping and backpacking, cycling, skiing, hunting and fishing, boating and hiking--everything from kayaks and portable stoves to bike racks, binoculars and balaclavas. Apart from its famous hunting boot, Bean stocks perhaps the largest selection of outdoor footwear available: lightweight canvas-and-leather hikers ($55) and nylon trail-running shoes ($75), several dozen models of sandals and sneakers, and its hand-sewn camp moccasins, introduced in the 1920s (in three models: bluchers, camp mocs and boat mocs, each at $69). The "North Col" hiking boot of Gore-Tex and leather is a poem to rugged practical footwear ($185); Bean's "Aqua Stealth" wading shoes are ideal for mountain streams ($90). You'll also find a full complement of cotton chamois and flannel shirts, canvas duck field coats, insulated waders, whipcord and moleskin shooting trousers, cargo jackets and fishing vests, heavy and reinforced wool sweaters, deerskin gloves, down-filled camouflage parkas, insulated boot socks, Gore-Tex and neoprene waders, a dozen styles of fly vests and everything else for a day by a trout stream or a week in deep woods. Then there's the traditional and genuine split-wicker fishing creel for carrying your catch, complete with leather shoulder harness, latch strap and waist belt ($48).
718 Madison Avenue,
New York, New York 10021
317 South Washington Street,
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Beretta is the world's oldest industrial enterprise: it has been making superior firearms in Italy since the sixteenth century. Bartolomeo Beretta, a contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci, became a master gun-barrel maker; a descendant, Pietro Beretta, made weapons for Napoleon. Today, in addition to the extraordinary guns and rifles, the firm creates a full range of hunting clothes and accessories--marvelous field jackets in water-repellent Rovertex cloth (with or without goose down) with all the authentic details: removable hood, adjustable waist, bellows pockets, zippered game pocket, quilted liners and storm cuffs (from $250 to $575). Beretta also offers extremely durable and handsome shirts in cotton gabardine, fine poplin and pinwale corduroy, with large button-flapped chest pockets (from $60), water-repellent cotton hunting trousers with cargo pockets ($95) and a good basic selection of sport luggage in green resin-coated cotton and tan leather (from $60 for a Dopp shaving kit to $550 for a hunting bag).
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