I’m always looking for things that have that added ingredient of different, be it a vintage car, a strange back-street caffe, or another jacket for the collection. Realm & Empire have been mentioned here a few times before, as one of a handful of British companies worth keeping an eye on. By some incredibly fortuitous dealings, R&E have managed to wangle access to the IWM archives, which for a menswear designer must be like finding the grail of inspiration.
For this jacket inspiration has been WW2 pilot jackets. Not the leather bombers the ace pilot would wear while on a mission in the dark and cold skies, but a mid-length wool coat that would be just the ticket for ground duty. The olive green wool blend, double breasted front and shawl collar give it a distinctive look. The added extra canvas patches on the arms are inspired by repair patches on vintage jackets and also flashes that were added to give better visibility, though this is more obvious on the navy version with the orange stripe.
The inside is splendid though, and one of those cases where details are only included to provide pleasure for the wearer. The lining is a very vivid red polyester, with the R&E logo woven into it. Surprisingly flash for a jacket inspired by vintage military garments, but given how it makes me smile every time I see it, very much worth it.
The design is otherwise kept quite clean and straightforward. Two decently sized front pockets with nice big flaps on them. Deep enough to store both things and hands alike. Also there is a decently deep inside pocket for your flight map, phone and wallet. And a single rear vent. Nothing more.
Ah, not quite though. When you insert your arm into the jacket the first time you will notice something. And it will bring a smile to your hardened features. There is an elasticated cuff hidden inside the arm. And a matching one in the other arm. This is such an appreciated feature in the cold, stopping that icy wind from finding it’s way up your arms. I’m surprised so jackets have it.
My reasoning for getting this coat instead of a more conventional double-breasted pea-coat was that the shawl collar is less restrictive. I can’t be alone in finding it a challenge to combine a decent scarf with most jackets. If there is any space left when the jacket is done up, there will be room for a flimsy scarf at best, or else the scarf has to go on the outside, which from an engineering point of view is a poor solution. Imagine putting the insulation on the outside of the wall on your house.
With the shawl collar though, there is more space and this allows me to wear a scarf of decent dimensions and thermal properties. Score!
Sizing wise, don’t go to high on it. The arms are not very spacious, so if you’d like to wear a sweater inside, you’ll probably want to go up a size. The R&E roll-neck I reviewed a couple of months back looks great with this jacket.
Keeping a lookout from moose, badgers and errant menswear superstars. A light frosting really pretties up the Autumn woods. By the way, I still have a limited number of these scarves left, if you fancy adorning your neck with one. #realmandempire #shackleton #fracap #indigoscarf #autumn #høst #welldresseddad #dadstyle
Personally I also feel a bit like chasing back and forth across a bridge in my Porsche when I wear it, but that may just be me. It’s a nice jacket though, and the added different is very much appreciated.