Wednesday 29 July 2015


IT SHOULD COME as no surprise that camel coats are no longer made of actual camel's hair. "It's just a little wiry," said Karl Aberg, men's design director at Marc Jacobs. "Today's customer really wants that soft touch." Modern fabric options include wool, alpaca, synthetics and blends thereof. But while the materials differ, the essential idea remains: It's a tailored coat, hovering around the knee, that comes in any number of shades of toasty, caramel-y beige.
Though no longer directly linked to its namesake species of four-legged mammal, the camel coat kept its name, and its spot in the canon of menswear. It's a versatile piece with lasting appeal. Perhaps that's why so many menswear designers—Gieves & Hawkes, Marc Jacobs, Berluti and Ami, to name a few—showed camel coats on their runways for fall. "I think men are less tricky than the industry thinks," said Gieves chief creative officer Jason Basmajian. "They always go back to classics that always look great."
This coat certainly delivers. "It's just really easy to wear," added Mr. Basmajian. "You can take it in that sporty direction, but you can also really dress it up." Indeed, it looks great over a suit as well as jeans and a basic sweater. And the neutral shade pairs just as well with blacks and grays as it does with more colorful, adventurous palettes.
Here, we evaluate three brands' latest updates of this fuzzy classic

Brought to You By: Jason Basmajian, chief creative officer of Savile Row brand Gieves & Hawkes.
Best for the Guy Who: Wears a suit nearly everyday and is looking for a smart investment.
Spirit Animal: "More James Bond than Brideshead," said Mr. Basmajian.
Price: High at $3,595, but a pattern made by G&H's tailors—plus full canvas construction and hand-finished details like a button hole on the lapel—don't come cheap. "Before bespoke, it's really the best quality we do," said Mr. Basmajian.
Fabric: Tiptop notch. The Italian-milled 52% alpaca, 48% wool blend is lightweight without sacrificing warmth. If a Savile Row designer calls a fabric "incredibly expensive," you know it's the best.
Color: Caffe latte with an extra shot of espresso. "I love the idea of deep camel, not pale," said the designer.
Fit: A slightly slimmer, elongated cut with a strong roped shoulder and a hem just below the knee. "It gives the impression of height and elegance," said Mr. Basmajian.
In the Details: It comes with the same unpolished horn buttons used in the brand's bespoke range of coats. The buttons develop a unique patina.
Nota Bene: Only a couple dozen of these beauties were produced, so if you want one, you'll have to act quickly.
THE COLLEGIATE // J. Crew Wool Cashmere Topcoat
Brought to You By: Frank Muytjens, J.Crew's head of menswear design, champion of the slim silhouette and the all-round newly stylish American man.
For the Guy Who: Is a camel-coat first-timer.
Spirit Animal: Ryan O'Neal in "Love Story." Sure, it was Ali MacGraw who famously wore one in the film, but Mr. O'Neal's character would certainly have gone for this.
Price: Smartly accessible at $495.A wool-and-cashmere blend coat for under 500 bucks is a great entry-level option for any guy.
Fabric: 95% wool keeps it durable and warm and a 5% dash of cashmere adds a hint of softness.
Color: A warm, almost dark-orange hue. "I love darker camel for this fall. It feels a little more modern to me right now," said Mr. Muytjens.
Fit: Slimmer and shorter than most. Expect the same body as the Ludlow suit that Mr. Muytjens has popularized throughout his J.Crew tenure. The hem hits around mid-thigh, a move the designer made to give it "more edge." And a lack of shoulder padding yields a more natural, less forbidding Master-of-the-Universe silhouette. Meanwhile a peak lapel is there to add "personality and a sharper look."
In the Details: The contrasting black buttons are concealed under a placket that, said Mr. Muytjens, "creates a cleaner sensibility and gives it a more streamlined look." The placket is lined with grosgrain for durability.
THE HIGH-LOW // Marc Jacobs Baby Alpaca and Wool Coat
Brought to You By: Karl Aberg, men's design director at Marc Jacobs.
For the Guy Who: Lives downtown but has uptown tastes.
Spirit Animal: Luke Wilson as Richie Tenenbaum.
Price: Solidly in the "investment" category at $2,545. If it's the one you love, rationalize your purchase by calculating its likely low cost-per-wear.
Fabric: A high-pile, fluffy 70% alpaca, 30% wool blend. "When you touch it," said Mr. Aberg, "you feel the softness."
Color: Caffe latte, extra milky. Mr. Aberg's take on camel is markedly lighter than the other two coats' hues. It's a pale, nearly nude shade of camel that nears blush in the right light. "Lighter is elegant and has a more luxurious feeling," the designer explained.
Fit: Despite coming from a high fashion brand, the silhouette is timelessly classic. It hits at the knee and is neither too slim, nor too relaxed. "It's a proper man's coat," said Mr. Aberg. "[It's] the kind of thing you can imagine being passed down generation to generation." The unstructured shoulders also give it a slightly drapey effect.
In the Details: The hem is intentionally unfinished and slightly frayed, though a ribbon trim keeps it from fraying too much. "We liked the idea of it looking a little grungy," said Mr. Aberg.

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