Well, here we are. It’s the end of July and in London at least, the weather is still hit-or-miss. The forecast for August doesn’t look terribly rosy either, worst luck. It’s a good thing that fashion brands are beginning to drop their autumn collections, with lightweight macs and raincoats to the fore.
The one launch that stands out, right now, is Hackett x Grenfell. It’s a smart four-piece collaboration that consists of two peacoats in navy and khaki, and two old-school Harringtons with patch-bellows pockets on each hip. Of course, Hackett’s reputation precedes itself, but Grenfell is a brand you may not have heard of. Principally, this is because it’s a connoisseur’s brand, but it’s also only recently been revived from several decades of dormancy. Good thing too – it makes superb stuff – all in its Leytonstone factory.
Grenfell was founded in 1923 and took the name of one Sir Wilfred Grenfell. He was a clever chap, an explorer who worked with mill owner Thomas Haythornthwaite to develop the world’s first untreated rainproof cloth. Other outerwear makers of the time were experimenting with rubberised or waxed materials, which though effective made unwieldy clothes that didn’t breathe. Grenfell succeeded in creating the world’s most dense natural cotton drill. It was totally resistant to the elements, while being relatively lightweight and breathable. In its day it was a fashion-coup, not that it was easy to pull off.
Weaving the stuff was a technological headache. First, special yarn had to woven that was strong enough to take the tension of the weaving process, then the looms had to be strengthened for the same reason. Once made, early prototype cloths turned out to be so water resistant that no dye could penetrate them. Eventually though, the recipe was perfected.
Fast forward 94 years and Grenfell is making stunning outerwear, using authentic Grenfell cloth and traditional manufacturing processes in East London. It’s a wonderful made in England success story. Now, this collaboration with Hackett ticks all the right boxes. The resulting pieces are well made, understated and practical.
The peacoat is particularly sharp. It’s lightweight, breathable and weatherproof, as we’ve already established. It’s also laden with useful pockets and cut with six-button double-breasted closure and a generous revere collar. The inset sleeves feel clean and while the twin side vents are unconventional, they’re an intelligent addition. Really, it represents a much smarter piece of design than the traditional woollen peacoat, a tough old thing that tends to only come out in deepest, darkest mid-winter. This coat is more contemporary and more versatile. The navy option is classic, but the khaki is a typical Grenfell colour.
There you have it, the ideal piece to tackle summer showers and to take you into autumn’s dropping temperatures, made in England and brought to you by one of Britain’s most iconic style brands. Don’t say we don’t take buying advice seriously.
£595, visit hackett.com or grenfell.com