John Motson may be hanging up his trademark sheepskin — but why should you?
Last month, legendary football commentator John Motson announced he is relinquishing the mic at the end of this Premier League season, after 50 years in the gantry. Beloved for his Mancunian hum, nimble phraseology and encyclopedic knowledge of the game, it’s also his extraordinary sheepskin coats for which Esquire salutes him. Oversized, ultra-plush and super-insulating, Motty’s coats have helped affirm shearling as one of the most stylish — and British — methods of keeping warm.
The material — the fleece and hide of a yearling sheep — has been worn since prehistoric times, but the turn of the last century saw shearling come into its own. Pilots wore shearling-lined bomber jackets to fight the cold in unpressurised cabins at high altitudes. Marlon Brando made shearling stylish in 1954’s On the Waterfront, while Steve McQueen furthered its appeal when he donned a military B3 shearling jacket in The War Lover (1962). In the UK, of course, Derek “Del Boy” Trotter loudly claimed the look in the Eighties.
This season, shearling abounds. Belstaff has replica Forties flight jackets and Prada uses it on everything from bombers to desert boots. Saint Laurent, Burberry and Bottega Veneta have gone meta with it, turning shearling inside-out on sweaters, jackets and Motty-esque belted overcoats.
To appreciate the style’s enduring rugged appeal, look to Ryan Gosling’s shearling overcoat in Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049. And failing that? Well, we’ll always have Del Boy.
Pine leaf suede-shearling jacket, £2,080, by Z Zegna
Broadcaster John “Motty” Motson — 50 years, nine World Cups and one immortal fashion statement