Iconic outerwear : Goggle jacket

In my very occasional series featuring iconic outerwear, I’ve today arrived at a jacket I’ve had very mixed feelings about. Initially I thought it quite ludicrous that a parka would have a hood with a pair of hinged goggle-lenses fitted in it. Surely they could have no function at all? Granted it’s hard to come up with new design features, and sometimes a crazy chance will be taken, but googles? What next, a snorkel?

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If they actually did work though, as an all-weather, all-season cyclist, I could sort of see the attraction of being able to really close ranks against the occasionally rancid weather! Zip that hood fully closed and the the rain pelt against the goggles!

So what changed my mind? Well, it’s been a few years now since the Goggle Jacket had it’s 20th anniversary, but the images produced at the time, and the greater story behind it are so powerful that I keep returning to look at the photos. It’s sheer brilliance, something that is really quite rare in the fashion business.

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As history has it, the original jacket was designed by outerwear legend Massimo Osti founder of Italian clothing company CP Company (he later went on to found Stone Island a label that enjoyed halcyon days as a casuals brand, but is now notable mainly for the badge on the arm being removable). Their philosophy of “Function and Use” was really put to the test when they entered into a sponsorship deal with the “Mille Miglia“, the famous Italian road race for vintage sports cars. The original road race ran from 1927 to 1957 as an open-road, thousand-mile endurance race from Brescia to Rome and back. It returned in a safer, more sanitised regularity rally in 1977. This means that what used to be a balls to the walls first to arrive wins race was toned down to a race where the winner that is best at keeping to set speeds underway wins. More of a showcase event for expensive vintage sports-cars and their monied owners than the testosterone-fuelled race of previous times.

In any case, part of the sponsorship deal was that CP Company supplied the participants with specially made jackets for the event, and they came up with the design feature of the googles, which would be useful when driving an open-top sports-car in inclement weather. They also added a third google-lens to the left wrist, to enable the wearer to keep an eye on his watch. Pretty nifty really, and a superb idea for that specific application.

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The jacket went on to become a roaring success, no doubt largely due to it’s signature features. It appears that it found special favour among young men with a penchant for the casuals culture, i.e. the combined interest of fashion and football. Were the googles of use when standing on the terraces in driving rain, or maybe it was a handy way of masking up in case of fisticuffs? I’m sure I’ll be handily informed about this by those that know the culture in more detail than me.

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This brings us to 2009 and the 20th anniversary of the jacket though. It does say something about the iconic nature of the jacket that it was considered worthy of a celebration. How could they possibly come up with something notable for a jacket that had been around for 20 years already? What CP Company did was a stroke of genius though, as I see it.

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Image borrowed from AitorThroup.com

Enter Aitor Throup, young Argentinian-British fashion designer with a fascination for terrace culture and attire, combined with a very interesting outlook on how garment design combines with human anatomy (something not all designers pay attention to today, as any number of ill-fitting garments testify to).

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Aitor looked back to the original intention of the jacket, how it was to protect the drivers of a car without a roof. This meant a combination of anatomy, ergonomics and function had to be considered, and Aitors result is even better than the original. Using life size models of a human in not only a sitting, but also a driving position with arms gripping the steering wheel, the re-design is now fully ergonomic. What this means isn’t a jacket that only looks good when you are sitting with arms stretched out, but a jacket that has a structure that allows it to morph into a driving position when that is required.

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Image borrowed from AitorThroup.com

This is tailoring at an entirely different level than most jackets I’ve come across. Using zips at the side to allow the jacket to work in two different modes is very clever, after all the shape of the human body is very different when standing and sitting. Taking it even further the hood is both anatomically accurate and at the same time can be adjusted to make room for a helmet if needed.

Add in that it’s made from triple-layered Gore-tex, specially dyed to give a vintage look, it’s probably one of the most singular jackets ever created.

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Image borrowed from AitorThroup.com

With only 1989 examples made, it’s also quite a rare and expensive piece. Do I feel the desire to own one? Very definitely. Do I know what I would use it for? Not really, it would likely be more of a collectible and talking piece than something I’d actually be able to enjoy fully. Unless I build the C-type Jaguar racing car I’ve been dreaming about for too many years.

The photos and drawings produced by Aitor for the anniversary I would like to enlarge and have as posters on my wall tough. Rarely have I come across graphic artistry of such power and brilliance. And I’d also flag Aitor as a designer of particular brilliance and certainly one of few that are worth following closely.

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Image borrowed from AitorThroup.com

 
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3 Responses to “Iconic outerwear : Goggle jacket”

  1. Scratch

    I’m exactly the same as you on this jacket.
    I don’t like the goggle jacket persay – far too many negative connotations – but they often feature lovely military style baffle pockets and such like. Some are just plain jackets with a goggle hood stuck on to try and sell them – others are quite complex and very detail rich.
    That anniversary edition is absolutely something else though but would just be something to own and have. A beautiful and curious object to be stared at.

    Good article – especially since you’re coming at it from a total outsiders point of view and seeing the jacket for perhaps what it is rather than what it represents.

    Though it’s probably worth noting that Massimo Osti founded and owned CP Company rather than just working there as a designer.

    Reply
  2. Peter Willis (Pedrotoon)

    Great article, great jacket…unfortunately I just see a right wing football hooligan.

    It would be nice to see an article on Massimo Osti or Aitor Throup though.

    Peter

    Reply

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