Toronto Star

Sorry, but you can’t buy my fabulous Figue jacket


I am sorry to say that you cannot have this fantastic jacket. I already know that you want it. And I know this is a very discouragi­ng way to begin this discussion.

But since everywhere I happen to go in the jacket — from the grocery store to a meeting or an elegant fashion lunch — someone stops me to compliment me on it before asking where on earth I got it, I figure I have to lay the ground rules upfront.

As I tell my jacket’s many admirers, they won’t actually be able to find this jacket for themselves because, first of all, it’s a one-of-a-kind piece, made from a vintage army jacket, so each one is unique. And secondly, it’s from a New York-based Bohoinspir­ed fashion line called Figue (, by former Tory Burch designer Stephanie von Watzdorf.

Von Watzdorf used to personaliz­e her own army surplus with magic marker, but her fancy new repurposed army jackets have been such a hit they’re pretty much sold out online.

The thing is, I do understand your frustratio­n with this situation, because even though I never imagined that this crazy, glitzed-up old army jacket was particular­ly “me” or would be this fall’s answer to all my wardrobe issues, it’s ended up being my go-to piece of the season.

It’s true I did admire it from afar, mostly to be polite. But when my extremely generous New York friend with the toofabulou­s closet forced it on me during a recent visit, claiming that she never wore it because her long hair kept getting stuck in its elaborate gilded appliqués and that I should really take it anyway because it’s made from an old Canadian army jacket, I didn’t imagine that I would have much occasion to wear it. What I didn’t fathom was that at this precise moment, the more over-the-top and offbeat a fashion choice happens to be, the more it seems to go anywhere you do — and then with absolutely everything. Not to mention that with the extremely unpredicta­ble weather nowadays, a lightweigh­t, unstructur­ed layer of outerwear that feels neither summery nor all battened up for winter is a must-have. Now that we have no idea what a season might bring, that fashion buzzword “seasonless” starts actually making sense. It is also handy that the jacket, while smashing for making an entrance, is also something you don’t have to feel the least bit guilty about, since it’s made from army surplus that’s just been cleverly reimagined. So while Figue’s repurposed military jackets starting at a $1,200 (U.S.) are a fashion investment, it’s one with the added bonus of being guilt-free. Which doesn’t entirely free me from a slight twinge whenever I have to tell my fabulous jacket’s next admirer that its unlikely that they will score one of their own. Karen von Hahn is a Toronto-based writer, trend observer and style commentato­r. Her new book, What Remains: Object Lessons in Love and Loss, is published by the House of Anansi Press. Contact her at kvh@ karenvonha­

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