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From Field And Factory To Fashion

 

Image: James Munro

A few years ago I was walking in London’s Spitalfields market when I happened to come across several rails of dark blue jackets. Or rather, half-jackets. You wouldn’t have wanted to wear one up a mountain but they wouldn’t have been suitable for a funeral either. These particular jackets were scruffily formal; casual but smart enough to do dinner as long as the Queen wasn’t there. The best things about them were the pockets: fat envelopes of fabric on each side, big enough to wedge in a cold hand or an average-sized paperback, as well as an unexpected inner pocket on the right. How French. Mine cost £25 and I have worn it most days since, making it value-competitive with my socks. I have relished its practicality and dirt-resistance – also that it says I have thought about what I am wearing, but only very quietly.

Image: Carrier Company

Nothing lasts. Whatever island of trendless fortitude you think you have found in whatever part of the world you are in, eventually the fashion navy will cruise into view. I suppose if they were being sold in Spitalfields these shirt-jackets – shackets, if you will (you probably won’t) – must already have had some claim on fashionability, but nothing at all like what has been happening recently.

They are everywhere, with the crowning achievement, of course, being the outsized women’s version in the spring 2016 collection from Vetements, the Most Fashionable Label In The World Right Now. If fashion works upwards, the shacket might have started at the bottom, but it is now very much here. Lest anyone accuse the trendmakers of not having a keen sense of oxymoron, they are categorised under the title of “French workers” (although they are not far off from looking like the proudly proletarian Mao jackets beloved by Chinese diplomats).

Extract from Ed Cummings' article in the Endeavour Issue

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