The Fireman’s Jacket – Sealed Off

Looking back on these past ten or so days, I would have to say that the best way to describe Fashion Week is like watching a thousand movie clips, all at once.  Sped up, slowed down, spliced together, forward, backward, until I can’t even tell what I’m watching anymore, everything just becomes a two dimensional blur.  Sitting through show after show, picking up on a random shirt here, a fabric there, maybe a pair of shoes, or a full suit in a rare moment of clarity, it all became really difficult to process.  And I won’t even try to touch upon the nauseating circus of try-hards in their best “please-take-my-photo-please-please” outfits that congregated outside the show.  All I know is that by the end of the week it was next to process anything.  Each show had some takeaways but trying to interpret them instantly just became an exercise in futility.

That’s not to say that it was all a wash, there is certainly something to be said about going to a show to get an overall feel for a collection, encapsulated in the atmosphere of that moment.  Yet, it was in those split seconds of clarity, when against an overloaded backdrop, I would see something that truly resonated with me, not just as something to appreciate, but as something that could actually impact how I dress, that I was able to really gain something from this week.

I’ve already spoken about York Street and how impressed I was by what the Ovadia brothers were able to pull off, but there was one piece in particular that over a week later has lingered in my mind: The Fireman Jacket.  It’s simple enough, essentially a barn style jacket with two lower pockets and a rolled-edge collar, the only real difference being that on top of the front buttons are four metal clasps to finish it off.  A friend of mine pointed out that the straps are just about the only thing that relate it to Firemen, and I’d have to say he’s right, but it’s those sturdy clasps that really seal it (sorry haven’t had a bad pun in while, figured I was due.)

In the past, and even up to this coming season, J. Crew, Barbour, Black Fleece and several other brands have all come out with Fireman-esque jackets, but I always feel like they haven’t done it right.  J. Crew and Barbour use smaller fasteners that look like some kind of modified metal binder clip running down the front, and Black Fleece’s seals (in typical Thom Browne fashion) are just too prominent for my tastes.  The second I saw that York Street jacket though, I knew that I had found what I was looking for.  In my opinion the Ovadia’s got the designs spot on, making a more practical (hopefully slimmer fitting) version of the “original” Fireman Jacket that Ralph Lauren made back in the eighties and nineties.  Now, I say original with a bit of trepidation because I’m not exactly sure if he was the first to do it, but I can say that it was Ralph that popularized the style during the late twentieth century.  I’m glad to see the Fireman Jacket making a proper comeback, as I have never really understood why more brands don’t utilize the design.  It’s clean enough to wear with just about anything, it’s cut to a decent length, but it’s those dense fasteners, allowing you to seal off the front buttons and block the wind from cutting through, that make it such a smart piece of outerwear.  While the York Street version should be out in stores soon, you can still find the occasional vintage Ralph Lauren Fireman Jacket on eBay, if you want to go with a classic (albeit baggier) model.  Regardless of which style you prefer, it’s a great, criminally under appreciated design, that I can only hope to see more of in the months to come.

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