Marc Richardson on having an addiction to coats
The thrill of collecting jackets
Words— Marc Richardson
I’ve never fancied myself much of a collector. I have enough pairs of shoes to go almost two months without wearing the same pair twice, but I’m definitely not a collector — I just happen to like sneakers. The thought that I was collecting jackets never crossed my mind; I mean, it’s not something that many people collect to begin with.
Recently, though, I realized that I had unwittingly begun collecting jackets over the last few years. My first reaction was “well, this is dumb”; jackets aren’t exactly cheap and, for the most part, they do the same thing: keep you warm. How many jackets did one really need, I asked myself.
But, as I flipped through some two dozen jackets I started to realize that it wasn’t dumb, it was actually fun. Not only that, but I had actually made a series of subconscious decisions to broaden my “collection” over the years. And, looking at it now, jackets might be as good a garment as any to collect.
Fargo's Martin Freeman stands out in the snow in a bright orange parka.
With my current crop of jackets, it would be fair to say that the collection was spawned by an upcycled maharishi woodland camo parka that I would have bought in 2014. It’s an intricate jacket with myriad pockets and a novel wrap placket that covers up the zipper and makes the parka look like an anorak. I remember seeing it for the first time and knowing immediately that I needed to have it. I wasn’t one to wear too much camo at the time, nor was I one to particularly like jackets, either. But every single time I wore it, I got compliments. Needless to say, I kept wearing it.
Of course, it wasn’t the first jacket that I owned. I remember the jackets that I had in elementary school and high school. I remember a white and blue ski jacket that I wore for three years in elementary school because it was so cool. While that was almost 15 years ago, I’d be remiss to not comment on the similarities it bore to contemporary Balenciaga jackets — that’s either a testament to my otherworldly trend forecasting or a poignant example that we’re always looking back for fashion inspiration. I also remember my first GORE-TEX rain jacket, too. It was black, as one’s first GORE-TEX jacket should be. Neither of those is still in my wardrobe, but by remembering them so vividly, it proved to me that I had a weird attachment to my outerwear.
The oldest jacket that I have — and the one I hold most dear — is a Supreme x Jean-Michel Basquiat M-65 from 2013. I didn’t buy it because it was a jacket, though. I bought it because it was Supreme collaboration with Basquiat’s estate and because the jacket was the best piece from the collection. For a while, it was the only jacket I would wear, regardless of the temperature. At the time, I thought that I hated jackets; they were bulky and didn’t lend themselves to getting a fit off. So I layered and layered some more under that M-65. I spent a cold, humid winter in Paris and ended up with a nagging cough that didn’t go away until the summer, which I attributed to my reluctance to wear a jacket.
Freaks and Geeks was chock-full of iconic jackets.
That’s why I say that the collection was launched by the camouflage parka I bought the following fall, because it made me realize that not only are jackets essential to staying warm, they’re also the statement piece to end all statement pieces.
That, in turn, led me to buy more jackets and ultimately come to the conclusion that it’s very hard to have “too many” jackets.
It's hard to have too many jackets
Consider that there are so many different situations where a jacket is needed — wanted, if you don’t feel like being hyperbolic. At the very least, you should have different jackets for winter, rain and cold autumn weather. So that’s, like, three… at least. Denim and leather jackets are pretty timeless and are almost universally considered wardrobe staples. That’s five.
From there, it’s easy to justify a work jacket… or two. Personally, I opted for an olive drab one — an underrated classic that should be seen on par with denim and leather — and a white Stone Island joint that I like to wear to change things up a bit. What about a trench coat? You have to have a trench coat! And once you have the classics down, don’t you want something that’s a little more out there? What about a puffer jacket for when you feel like channelling the ‘90s? What about an insulating layer for when it’s cold out, but not raining or snowing?
Ryan Gosling's satin scorpion bomber in Drive (left), Princess Leia in all white.
If none of your jackets — of which you should now have at least a dozen — are black, then you should probably get a black one. Just in case you have to suit up in an all-black get-up.
It’s kind of like “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie”, but with jackets. If you give someone a classic jacket, they’ll ask for something a bit more trendy or daring. If you give them a showpiece, they’ll ask for something muted. If you give them a parka, they’ll ask for a windbreaker. If you give them a windbreaker, they’ll ask for an insulating jacket to wear under the windbreaker. It’s a cycle that never ends.
But that’s where the thrill is with jackets: It’s not like collecting denim where the differences tend to be in the details; jackets are often wholly different from one another. They’re big purchases, yes, but that makes them all the more thrilling. You get something tangible for your money. Something people will see and something you’ll wear for years to come. Collecting jackets might seem ridiculous and expensive, but it isn’t really. Jackets last longer than, say, shoes, and if you’re only wearing a jacket a handful of times each winter, instead of every day, it’ll last even longer.
Ewen McGregor bombing along in a suede jacket in Trainspotting.
I don’t think anybody wakes up and says to themselves that they’re going to start collection something — and definitely not jackets. You kind of fall into it and wake up with the realization that it’s too late to turn back. That you need to pick up something funky to offset the sober winter parka you bought last year. That’s how I ended up with a black and red houndstooth wool trench coat — there is literally no other scenario in which I would buy that jacket than one where I already had almost two dozen.
That’s the thing with collections: They encourage you to take sartorial risks and push you outside of your comfort zone. Your wardrobe becomes ever-expanding, but so, too, do your tastes.
What I realized is that there may be a jacket for every occasion, but there is also an occasion for every jacket.
Samuel L. Jacksons's black and yellow winter coat in The Hateful Eight.