In 1985 Sid Mashburn, a twenty-five year old designer from Mississippi began working at a two year old New Jersey based retailer called J. Crew. Both Mashburn and J. Crew would move on to become key players in fashion in years to come, but in the mid eighties they were simply two fresh faced entities trying to make a name for themselves in menswear. Mashburn wasted no time and quickly began designing pieces that would help to define J. Crew’s aesthetic for years to come. One of the first pieces that Mashburn designed was the Barn Jacket, which is, in my opinion, the quintessential fall coat.
Inspired by a classic hunting jacket shape, the Barn Jacket does it’s job in a perfectly no nonsense manner. The simple front, water repellent shell, and dual angled pocket design give it clean, functional look without any fuss. Details such as a corduroy collar, wooden buttons, and muted colors make the coat mesh perfectly with the seasonal landscape.
For J. Crew the Barn Jacket represents the American heritage vibe that was so crucial to their early development. Long before the trend’s latest resurgence, J. Crew was producing traditionally inspired garments that worked without ego or pretense. The Barn Jacket was a representation of this, a well constructed jacket that was understated enough to work in almost any outfit, and at an incredibly low price point of only eighty-eight dollars.
The Barn Jacket is also a vital piece in the story of Sid Mashburn as a designer. It’s remarkable to look at what Mashburn has created today with his own menswear store in Atlanta and reflect on that by looking at the Barn Jacket from his early days. Even as a young man without much experience Mashburn was still able to design a piece that has endured for decades, a true testament to his dexterity as a menswear designer. We can see where Mashburn began, with a piece of classically inspired American design and trace how he has stayed true to that while still constantly reshaping his own approach to design.
Mashburn and J. Crew were certainly not the first to do a modern take on classic designs, but with the Barn Jacket they succeeded in creating a garment that took a step forward by alluding back to classic designs, therefore leaving a legacy as a great piece of design.