We all know fashion goes in cycles, but style is forever.
However, even within those parameters there are items that can get almost totally lost for a whole generation before making a comeback. Polo neck sweaters, rugby shirts, even desert boots.
In recent years the much maligned shearling coat is one such example.
Comedic images abound of sheepskin wearing cads, bounders and market traders on the British side of the Atlantic, but the shearling coat really has a dual history in the canon of Anglo American traditional clothing - being both a British tradition and an American West tradition.
In recent years we’ve seen numerous attempts to bring back a classic shearling silhouette. Here at Hutton, just as with other makers’ iterations of our iconic Playtime chukka, we felt that no one got it quite right, so we decided to up the game with our definitive take.
Several well known brands have recently launched shearling coats ‘inspired by’ the iconic model worn by Ryan O’Neal as Oliver Barratt in the 1970 smash hit Love Story.
We looked again at O’Neal’s coat and thought - this is a perfect example. All the details, we love plus Ryan is wearing his in a modern style, sweater or shirt underneath and not oversized for a sports jacket to sit underneath.
Our next task was to find a maker: preferably in England.
We reached out to Owen Barry 1948 (you may remember them from the collaboration work they've done with J Press in the past) of Street, Somerset (the spiritual home of British shearling) and asked them to work with us on creating the definitive model based on the actual coat worn by O’Neal throughout much of Love Story.
Within a few short hours of making contact, the team at Owen Barry was wholeheartedly onboard and thus the idea and so our first collaboration was born - ‘The Oliver’ by Hutton X Owen Barry 1948.
We examined all the key details of the movie coat, the short rear vent, the welted buttonholes, the top button closing with a loop, even the placement of the labels on the inside of the large welted handwarmer pockets.
By the time Love Story was made in 1970, it was common to wear a raincoat or overcoat without the need for the extra space for a suit jacket - something that is commonplace until today.
‘The Oliver’ is sized correctly, made to be worn over a shirt or a sweater but not over a sports jacket.
We sent the pattern makers at Owen Barry highly detailed instructions for all the elements needed to make 'The Oliver' the definitive shearling, and Owen Barry used their historic skills in turning our design into the perfect coat.
So experienced are the team at Owen Barry that they created this sample in one single attempt.
Ready to see a few pictures? Here's a peek:
Need to see more now? Check out the product page here. But not before you keep reading to learn more...
Anglo American Tradition
The Hutton of Northampton story is an integral part of the Anglo American history of menswear - part of the tradition that is known as ‘Ivy Style’ - so this shearling coat was an obvious choice for Hutton’s first foray outside of footwear.
In order to celebrate our partnership with Owen Barry 1948 we are doing a trial sprint run of 'The Oliver' that is SUPER LIMITED.
The turnaround time for your order will be approximately 3-4 weeks and yes, it may be getting towards spring in the northern Hemisphere but don’t miss out on these because it may well be a one off event.
So if you’re like us and know that when you see something - even when it's ‘out of season’ - and it so happens to be ‘just right’ then you need to press the trigger even if it's for putting away until the next cold spell. And for most of us, let’s face it, there will always be another cold spell.
The Oliver is made of premium shearling, hand cut and sewn in Street, Somerset, England by the Owen Barry craftsmen and women who between them have decades of experience in fashioning these iconic garments.
A Quick History of the Shearling Coat
There’s a definite crossover of the history of the shearling coat between the exploration of the American West in the late 19th century and the British sports car scene that began in the 1920s.
Even before this, shearling was a plentiful natural resource for keeping warm in the days before technical fabrics.
One of the earliest iterations were the shearling ‘bomber’ jackets and flight suits used by aeronautal pioneers in the early days of flight. It was then a natural extension that the open sports car would be the natural home for shearling coats.
The shearling used materials readily available gave cowboys, pilots, and open sports car enthusiasts the protection they needed from the elements.
From the 1930s through to the boom years of the 60s, as part of the creation of the Ivy myth in the US there was always a thread of Anglo tailoring influence that the Americans took and made their own.
Just like the historic adoption by Americans of the Hutton Playtime (especially in Hollywood with McQueen, Anthony Perkins and here in Love Story Ryan O’Neal), the shearling coat became a mainstay of the ivy traditional look.
In Italy, where these coats have never gone out of style, they are part of the culture, too.
In the UK, they became synonymous with various TV characters and the ‘chancers’ of the post war era like Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter in ‘Only Fools and Horses’ and and Arthur Daley in ‘Minder’ - but really both of these characters came from the same tradition of post war upper class ‘cads and bounders’ guys like Terry Thomas who played a big part in the Americanisation of British traditional style.
The flat caps, lapped seam tweeds, Hutton Playtimes, desert boots, even the Brooks Brothers button down shirt, these all came out of an American love for creating a tradition based on English style where they had previously had none.
The irony being that American clothing in almost every decade of the 20th century was far more traditional and a part of every man’s wardrobe from boy to grandfather, than any British styles outside of the very upper class.
Against this background we have the character of Oliver Barrett in Love Story. An East Coast scion of a wealthy family (Oliver’s father is played by the Welsh actor Ray Milland, himself an icon of the transatlantic idea of style since the 1930s) for whom it's only natural that part of Oliver’s ivy dress code contains the shearling coat.
Careful ivy nerds can spot Oliver wearing Hutton Playtime chukkas with his shearling in a wintery Central Park in the latter scenes of the movie.
Back on this side of the pond, James Fox the Chelsea pre-Sloane in Joseph Losey’s The Servant can be seen sporting a beautiful shearling.
Maggie Smith in the 1958 cult thriller no way out, wears a unisex shearling with capri pants and desert boots. A very British look, but also very American at the same time.
James Fox in Joseph Losey’s The Servant 1963:
More About 'The Oliver' by Hutton x Owen Barry 1948 Collaboration Sprint Run
So here we have it, your definitive classic shearling 'The Oliver' by Hutton x Owen Barry 1948.
This sprint run will close on Sunday, March 6.
This is a custom order made expressly for each customer. The product itself will be shipped at a date to be confirmed later.
Due the nature of sprint runs being made to order there are NO REFUNDS for sizing issues or variables in the natural marks and grain due to the nature of the natural (not man-made) materials used or due to the handmade (not machine-made) nature of the product.
If in the unlikely event you may have an issue with the quality of your item then a refund will be possible.
IMPORTANT SHIPPING NOTICE: Orders for the UK will be shipped directly from inside the UK.
EU orders will be imported together by Hutton and shipped to EU customers by us. No further VAT or customs fees will therefore apply to EU orders.
Orders from overseas (non UK/EU) may be shipped from UK or EU. All usual customs and taxes may apply in your country if outside the UK/EU.
We have priced this sprint run to reflect the cost of English handmade shearling items and the retail prices of Owen Barry products produced for retailers such as J Press.
Delivery in UK estimated 3-4 weeks from March 7th or earlier.
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