Couture week in Paris, and the temperature was nine degrees cool. Undeterred by the cold, many attendees wore their corsets, sheer mesh dresses and satin bra tops anyway, sans manteau.
Actress Florence Pugh made a statement of her own, wearing what might one day be called a dog walking jacket. A fleece, a borg liner, a camping jacket…
Granted, Pugh’s cost £890, and she wore it with heels, a miniskirt and loads of Valentino accessories. Yet it is a casual garment that has only recently been spotted in a high-fashion context. One enthusiastic Fashion writer said her choice “sends reverberations through the fashion industry” [sic].
Hyperbolic, certainly. But a good excuse for all of us to note that the humble fleece is now considered an It item. Styles that meet fashion criteria are clearly different from fleeces for sportswear, or the matte and smelly Sherpas you actually walk the dog in.
The comfort is there, but so are some thoughtful design details; drawstring waist and exaggerated collars, grosgrain hood ties and satin quilted pockets. They are chicer than hoodies, but not as chic nor as heavy as a real sheepskin coat.
Fleeces have appeared on the catwalk at Stella McCartney, Dior and Louis Vuitton in recent seasons, while current offerings at Net-A-Porter include variants in organic cotton, cashmere and silk, with prices ranging up to £5,500. That’s all well and good if the fiber content is luxurious, but if you’re paying more than $300 for a jacket made from recycled polyester, you might be the one with the fleece.
The chain stores call them “borg” jackets and actively show us how they make great layering tools. See how a £29.50 fleece has been used in a ‘shirt sandwich’ at Marks & Spencer, on top of a cream knitted and striped shirt.
Borg vest (£29.50, Marks & Spencer)
This concept of clashing materials in your layered look comes from independent labels like Marfa Stance, whose creative director Georgia Dant says it’s all about “textural play.”
“Our shearling liners are reversible and modular, meaning there are endless ways to layer our unique buildable accessories (like collars and hoods) for layering and updates, both for style and function,” says Dant of how they mix and -match concept has developed that can be adjusted depending on the weather and the desired effect.
“In winter we like to combine it with other outerwear, for example under a voluminous Parachute Parka with exaggerated proportions. As the weather warms towards spring, it can be worn over a slimmer outerwear piece such as a denim or leather jacket, and in spring it can be worn alone over a summer dress or lightweight knit for a fresh and different look.”
Marfa Stance’s color combinations – khaki, cream and coral, navy blue, black and burgundy – are a signature design. Elsewhere, ecru shades are among the most popular this year (match your fleece top with your Instagram-friendly boucle sofa), but you can also embrace the trend’s bold roots in a bold color.
Fleece was invented in 1973, when mountaineer Yvon Chouinard wanted a quick-drying, yet warm alternative to wool. He combined two types of polyester material – one of which was intended as a material for the covering of toilet seats – and sewed them together to create a prototype. Fashioned into his first lightweight jacket design, he launched his Patagonia brand – today worth an estimated $3 billion. For decades, that unglamorous history meant that fleece was treated purely as a functional fabric – but not anymore.
Pugh’s style is that of Patou, the Parisian home of LVMH founded in 1914 by Jean Patou. Monsieur Patou – a rival to Coco Chanel and Jeanne Lanvin in the 1920s – was an innovative couturier who championed the idea that women should be liberated. by wearing restrictive clothing.
He was one of the first to offer a liberating sports line that could be worn around town – obviously not using the kinds of high-tech, typically stretchy materials we now wear in sportswear, but still an early recognition of the ethos that couture and could provide comfort. coexist.
Whether Pugh knew this history or not is unknown. But you might suspect that some 110 years later, Patou might have quite enjoyed the reinterpretation of a camp jacket in his name, worn amid the razzmatazz of couture week.
Windproof Sports Vest (now £35, H&M); Borg fleece (£130 boden.co.uk)
High Pile Jacket (£129, arket.com); Sherpa Jacket (£158, en.varley.com); Cotton-blend fleece (£550, JW Anderson at net-a-porter.com)
Five items you’ve always had that are now in fashion
Wear the classic striped shirt with jeans, or smart trousers and a statement belt.
Wear them again in the 80s way, with a blazer with big shoulders.
Fine Striped Shirt, £95, With nothing underneath; Thermal Leggings, £16, Marks & Spencer
Wear them anytime, anywhere, not just at home.
Free of logos, ideally made of corduroy material.
For men and women, in all colors and cuts.
Teluride slippers, £64.50, Penelope Chilvers at snowandrock.com; Unisex cap, £38, LuluLemonTrousers, £55, John Lewis