Coat inspiration can come in many forms. Meryl Streep in Kramer vs Kramer, for example. Or, this winter, a child’s stuffed toy. The teddy bear coat, otherwise known as the Borg, is big, cuddly, cosy and heart-meltingly cute. And it’s big news.
Browse for a coat anywhere on the high street at the moment and you can’t move for the soft, furry, textured fabric most associated with plush toys. There are three-quarterlength ones at Anthropologie, bikers at Asos (its three-quarters has now almost sold out), boho ones at Zara (the brand says its textured faux-shearling coat and soft faux-fur coat have both been popular) and wrap styles at Whistles. The colour palette is the kind you would see in a collection of plushies proudly displayed on a six-year-old’s bed: grubby whites, the occasional pastel but, by and large, the soft browns and beiges worthy of a Steiff production line. (Sidenote: Steiff, one of the the original teddy bear companies, does make excellent coats if you really want to go literal with the trend.)
Grown women dressed like teddy bears could be seen as symptomatic of the modern Peter Pan complex, a resistance to “adulting” and the next step on from the shutting-outthe-world statement of the duvet coat. There is even a new teddy bear emoji, as if to prove a point. But the teddy bear coat has a long history, dating back to cars becoming more commonplace in the 20s. Motorists took to wearing alpaca coats with fuzzy textures – the style even made it to newspaper cartoons. And the textured shearling-lite fabric known as Borg? The New York Times traced it back to George Borg, the owner of a knitting mill, who was producing deep-pile fabric for paint rollers in the 1940s. When he realised the fuzzy texture could lend itself to outerwear, he took it to New York’s garment district on Seventh Avenue. And that is the story of how the fabric of paint rollers went from DIY to the world of high fashion.
If the high street has adopted the teddy coat this season, and the London brand Shrimps now owns the Muppet-like coloured d faux-fur look, it is Max Mara who set the standard. Its teddy bear Icon coat appeared on the catwalk in 2013, with the first five looks of the show all very fuzzy indeed, and all in the soft browns of a teddy-ish colour palette. Carine Roitfeld, Alexa Chung and Kim Kardashian were then spotted in them. Fast-forward five years, and MatchesFashion. n. com says they are still popular – despite the £1,780 price tag.
“Max Mara’s pink teddy bear has been a bestseller for us as each time we reorder it, it sells out within a few days,” says Liane Wiggins, the head of womenswear buying. “More classic colours such as ivory, camel and navy have also been performing well.” Wiggins credits the teddy’s current “moment” ” with the fact that brands are offering a much wider variety, namechecking the workwear shape by Chimala as a new twist. The high street and smaller labels are on this shape too – see Lucy and Yak’s shorter style, made from recycled plastic bottles, for £60.
If you need more of a sell before embracing g the teddy, bear this is mind. It is more than cutesy emoji dressing. It is part of the faux-fur r revolution currently taking place in fashion, with brands such as Gucci, Burberry and Chanel banning fur – plus it looks a bit like the fleece fabric seen at Gen Z favourite brands Urban Outfitters and Monki. If in doubt, think of it like you once did your teddy bear: as your partner in crime this winter.
£60 Whistles, £285 Anthropologie,
Asos, £70 £198 Zara, £89.99