At this point, thanks to tumblr, Twitter, Google Reader, and Instagram (if you think I left anything out there, well then god help us all) I’d venture to guess that on any given day I must flip through nearly a thousand photos, which is a revelation that’s simultaneously awesome and horrifying. Of these photos though, probably only ten or so will end up striking enough of chord that I remember them the next day, and from there, probably only one will ever have a lasting enough impact to inspire some idea in my head, but sometimes that’s all it takes. As the weather turned a couple months ago, one image in particular jumped back to the top of my mental queue: this shot by the Sartorialist from just over two years ago now. Published during Scott Schuman’s prime of producing images that were actually informing the budding menswear community, you could take any part of this outfit and make a case for why it’s inspiring, but for me this shot remains all important for one reason – the jacket.
For months after first seeing this photo I scoured the internet, trying to find out exactly who made that knit duffle coat, but could never quite put the pieces together. That is until one day, I was scanning through the new arrivals section on Frans Boone’s website, when I discovered an Italian brand I had never heard of before called Bark. I clicked through and bam, right in front of me was the very jacket that I’d been hunting for all this time. Unfortunately, my ever shrinking bank account prevented me from picking the jacket up that day, but I’ve kept Bark in my back pocket all this time. They aren’t exactly an easy brand to peg down though, thanks to their lack of U.S. accounts and the fact that I don’t speak a lick of Italian, but from what I’ve gathered Bark is a relatively young brand, headquartered out of the Modena in Italy. While you can’t count on many Italian brands to have a very forthright internet presence, you can certainly count on them to have a clearly defined ethos. Brunello Cucinelli is always the strongest example with his sprinklings of philosophical overtones, but Bark is right up there with them, touting a philosophy tab on their website that heralds individuality through style. The juries still out for me on whether or not a knit duffle coat can make you unique, but either way it’s still an enjoyable read nonetheless.
As for individuality, my Bark experience came to life this past week when my long sought after jacket suddenly resurfaced at a Saks Fifth Avenue in Maryland (Saks is the brand’s only current U.S. account) during a year end sale. A few days later that jacket arrived at my doorstep and yesterday after months of coveting, I finally tossed on a Bark jacket for myself. The best way to sum up the jacket is a phrase that I said over and over again – it’s like wearing a blanket, but in the best of ways. The knit is comfortable reminiscent of SNS Herning’s sweaters in both look and feel, it’s tight enough to actually keep out the wind, with a weight to it that I didn’t expect. I considered taking the jacket off several times as I would dart into buildings, but it was simply too heavy on it’s own to carry around. Ultimately though I would say that’s a good thing. Bark’s best asset is that they challenge expectations. You would think that a knit sweater would ever be as warm as a topcoat, or that a topcoat could ever really be as comfortable as a sweater, but Bark has figured out how to make what I would deem to be the most wearable winter coat I’ve ever come across.