Trade up from that trusty-but-pedestrian puffer to a luxe shearling jacket—from labels like Coach, Tom Ford and Hermès—the guy’s-guy way to wear fur
Shearling Lamb Leather Coat, $6,700, boglioli.it PHOTO: ZACHARY ZAVISLAK FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, STYLING BY ANNE CARDENAS
EVERY MAN HAS his sartorial limits. The line I could never cross is fur. It always felt too eccentric, too feminine.
But I had a change of heart about a month ago, when I came upon a Throwback Thursday post on Instagram of a young Ralph Lauren, circa 1970, on his ranch, in a sheepskin bomber. It had a crackled-leather shell with a fluffy teddy-bear lining and a mammoth, primed-for-popping collar. It looked at once as toasty as a campfire and sharp as barbed wire—and I had to have it. I had to have…a fur jacket.
After all, shearling—the tanned skin of a sheared sheep or lamb with the clipped wool left on—is fur. Not a ritzy uptown mink but fur nonetheless. And my serendipitous Instagram find reminded me what men like Mr. Lauren have long known: that shearling is the manly way to wear it.
“It’s a guy’s guy kind of material,” said Frederik Dyhr, the vice president of men’s design at 91-year-old British brand Belstaff. “Shearling offers a way for guys to wear a more luxurious material that doesn’t feel precious.” Since Belstaff’s relaunch as a more fashion-forward label, in 2012, shearling has been a mainstay of its men’s collection, paying homage to the brand’s rugged moto-racing DNA while still aligning with its new luxury leanings.
Mr. Dyhr believes a shearling can take you through both elegant and more off-duty occasions. And with the multitude of options this season, many men can surely find a shearling to suit their style. There’s Tom Ford’s rugged, ’70s-ish tobacco-and-cream model ($7,890), Jil Sander’s fuzzy, almost Patagonia-like reversible zip-up ($3,490), Coach’s cropped and distressed aviator jacket ($1,995) and Ralph Lauren’s brown bombers, which could have come straight out of his family photo album. The sleek, cocoa-brown Boglioli version wouldn’t be out of place heading to the office.
But the question remains: why are designers, and men like myself, drawn to shearling now? The answer is most likely hanging in your closet.
For several years, our winters have been blanketed not just with snow, but also with down. The practical, yet pedestrian, puffer jacket has become ubiquitous, clogging the streets and subways from November to March. Kent Gushner, president of retail institution Boyds Philadelphia, has watched puffers from labels like Canada Goose and Moncler fly off his shelves, but he’s begun to sense that men are tired of being “just another guy in a big, black parka.”
For this fall’s stock, Mr. Gushner invested heavily in sheepskin options from high-end labels including Brunello Cucinelli and John Varvatos. The jackets are more streamlined than the boxy, elongated styles of the ’70s and ’80s.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the price tag. To get a true shearling jacket (with real leather and real fur), prepare to spend somewhere in the four figures. That said, years from now, it will have aged beautifully unlike your relatively inexpensive techy-puffer jacket. “A shearling seems to get softer and more worn-in,” said Scott Corey, a vintage dealer who sells to Americana clothing collectors and inspiration-seeking designers. The best way to think of a shearling is as an investment—you buy one now as a gift to yourself in the future. The more you wear it, the more supple the texture and the more richly patinated it will become. If Mr. Lauren’s jacket looked that good in the ’70s, I can only imagine how great it looks now.
Written by Jacob Gallagher Sept. 15, 2015 1:44 p.m. ET
Sources from: The Wall Street Journal
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