Sunday, May 09, 2010

Fitted casual outerwear: O'Connells, J. Press, Odin, Memes

I think it's safe to say that every fellow should have a fitted, zipped cotton (or Harrington) jacket. My search for the right one started several years ago. First stop: O'Connells, an excellent American trad or Ivy style retailer based in Buffalo. I bought a natural G9 Baracuta jacket which comes with a distinctive red and green Fraser tartan lining. This iconic British garment was created in the 1930s and popularized by Elvis Presley and Steve McQueen in the 1950s and 1960s.


The Baracutas are unusual for casualwear because they are sold in exact men's sizes (i.e. 38, 40, etc) - a distinct advantage in my opinion. However, I did find their sleeves on the classic model a bit blousy (though that is intentional and original to the design).

A couple of years later, my next stop led me to J. Press. I purchased a J. Press navy blue cotton zipped jacket (similar to a Baracuta) but with different detailing and slightly more fitted. For example, the Baracuta has simple elastic sleeve cuffs while the J. Press jacket has cloth straps with D-ring fasteners to cinch in the sleeves and the hem. However, I was in between the standard sizes (S, M, L) so the fit was not quite right (too long in the sleeve, too short in the length). I should note that J. Press currently sells British-made Baracutas though the model I bought was made in the USA.

This past weekend led me to Odin and Memes, two men's retailers in the East Village. At the former, I bought two Engineered Garments: a WG navy poplin jacket and a light chambray conductor shirt-jacket.


At Memes, I purchased a Wings + Horns hooded chambray zip jacket. This was manufactured in Canada. Not quite a traditional Harrington jacket but a well-fitting variation nonetheless. All of these jackets fit me very well off the rack.


I think I've seen the future of men's RTW or part of it anyway. And it's Japanese in sensibility (Engineered Garments is led by a Japanese designer). Or more accurately, it's a fusion of Japanese design sensibility (traditional designs made up-to-date) and American traditions, while incorporating innovative fabrics and flexible and "authentic" manufacturing (made in USA or Canada).

The mash-up I would like to see most? J. Press interpreted by Wings + Horns. Similar to the Brooks Brothers' Black Fleece collaboration with Thom Browne but more oriented to the casualwear spectrum (workwear, streetwear, country clothes).

Store locations
- O'Connells, 3420 Main St, Buffalo, NY
- J. Press, 380 Madison, NYC
- Odin, 328 E 11th (b/w 1st and 2nd) plus other locations in NYC
- Memes, 3 Great Jones (b/w Lafayette and Broadway), NYC

Additional links
- Styleforum thread on slim fit v. classic G9 Baracuta jackets

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