This fall, the down jacket (please don’t call it a “puffer”) re­asserts its rugged roots. Fi­nally.

Esquire (Malaysia) - - STYLE - Words by JOHN KEN­NEY ac­ces­sories

Chalk it up to one more ’80s icon gone to seed. Like James spader, so provoca­tive in Sex, Lies, and Video­tape, the once-bold down jacket has lost its edge. is there now any piece of out­er­wear more sex­less and soul­less?

Hard to be­lieve, but there was a time when the down jacket was the win­ter ver­sion of a leather biker jacket: it was born of util­ity and quickly ac­quired a re­bel­lious sta­tus. over the past decade, though, some­thing went wrong, and it lost its swag­ger, mor­ph­ing into the uni­form of soc­cer moms and he­li­copter dads ev­ery­where, per­fect for brav­ing the heavy merges and left-hand-turn lanes in safely shut­tling the team from prac­tice to pizza to cul-de-sac. You know the look—a snug-fit­ting, prim lit­tle num­ber, churned out in as sober and in­of­fen­sive a colour as pos­si­ble, quilted and ribbed to within an inch of its life. it’s even taken on a cute new name: the puffer coat. awwww.

But again, it wasn’t al­ways this way. Born in dan­ger­ous weather—seat­tle sports­man ed­die Bauer made the first ones just be­fore the war af­ter he nearly froze to death on a win­ter fish­ing trip— down coats, jack­ets and vests, with their sig­na­ture em­broi­dered pock­ets of in­su­la­tion, were de­vel­oped by Bauer and other in­no­va­tive out­fit­ters like Mon­cler as a light­weight op­tion for skiers, moun­tain climbers and out­doors­men of all kinds to guard against the bit­ter­est tem­per­a­tures. The style mi­grated from the slopes to the streets in the early ’80s. amer­i­can kids look­ing for an al­ter­na­tive to their fa­thers’ tweedy top­coats took their ski-club jack­ets back­pack­ing across eu­rope. and in italy, a fash­ion­for­ward scooter-rid­ing street scene grew up around the sand­wich shops of Mi­lan—a sort of Mi­lanese ver­sion of eng­land’s young Mods: the Pan­i­nari, whose at­ti­tude-heavy look was inevitably topped off with a big, bright, bold down vest or jacket.

Thank­fully, a few man­u­fac­tur­ers this sea­son have been in­spired to take the down jacket back to its rebel roots, and you can now chan­nel some of that ’80s swag­ger. An un­abashed ar­ray of vivid col­ors—rich yel­lows, strong blues, puls­ing reds—are out from de­sign­ers in fuller, im­mod­est sil­hou­ettes, with the old-school big-pocket quilt­ing. Aber­crom­bie & Fitch is of­fer­ing a ver­sion (the red one, op­po­site page) that’s priced for an af­ford­abil­ity the young Pan­i­nari would’ve ap­pre­ci­ated—just a shade over two bills. So put aside the “puffer coat” and its staid as­so­ci­a­tions in favour of one of these. And don’t worry—you can still pull it off, just like you did in the ’80s. All of which is to say there may be hope for James Spader yet. Have you seen The Blacklist?

Jacket by Aber­crom­bie & Fitch. Jacket by Herno.

Over ar­mour Ed­mund Hil­lary and Ten­z­ing Nor­gay climb­ing Ever­est, 1953. Above An Amer­i­can Were­wolf in Lon­don, 1981. Jacket by Tommy Hil­figer. Jacket by Paul & Shark. Jacket by Kenzo.

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