Back to the Future

Keeping warm was easy for early man. He’d skin whatever he ate for his supper and fashion it into a cape. And burn a tree.

Paleolithic Ice Age Europeans by Esteban De Armas

Source: Marine Pollution Bulletin

But for modern man it’s now an exercise fraught with difficulty.

The modern clothing industry has created many comfortable and inexpensive ways to keep us warm in winter but we now know that more and more of these choices are either deeply unethical, unsustainable, or environmentally harmful.

Much of the down that insulates our clothes is inhumanely sourced, including in the worst cases by the live-plucking of geese. Cheap fur-farming uses practices that are abhorrent. While the supposedly ethical choices such as polyester fleece, fake fur and polyester hollow fibre insulation have been revealed to have potentially catastrophic effect upon the environment. Synthetic clothing sheds hundreds of thousands microfibres when it is washed and these fibres find their way into the oceans and our food chain from where they cannot be recovered, and will not biodegrade.

And we can’t turn the heating up, because we’re already burning too much fossil fuel. So what do we do?

Funnily enough the answer lies in turning the clock back, about a hundred years or so, to the days when we wore woollen underpants, and our overcoats were heavy, and long, and made of wool.

 Source: Gentleman’s Gazette

Source: Gentleman’s Gazette

Wool is a sustainable, natural and ethical material. It can be spun and woven into textiles which are incredibly warm, and incredibly durable. 

Woollen cloths can be reused, or recycled, and at the end of their useful life will quickly and harmlessly biodegrade.

Source: E.Tautz

I have in my wardrobe several very serviceable and stylish woollen overcoats coats of at least 40 years vintage, some significantly older, passed down by grandfathers, my father, a Godfather. A Greatcoat, various Crombie, two British Warms and an assortment of others.
— Patrick Grant

The most ethical and sustainable way to stay warm? The way your grandparents and great grandparents did. Turn the heating down, pop your long-johns on and start a lifelong relationship with an 22oz woollen overcoat.

On the left you have Colonel Phillip Robertson in the trenches in one of the original British Great Coats, on the left you have Patrick Grant, 100 years later, in an E. Tautz double breasted heavy melton Woollen Great Coat.

The British Warm or Great Coat began its life during the First World War as a British Standard issue garment for the armed forces to stay warm and keep dry. Today the coat has mutated into variations and permutations, but you can still find a classic British Warm Wool from the Harrisons of Edinburgh ‘Overcoatings’ bunch at 850gms or breezy and efficient 30oz cloth. Careful not to blunt your shears cutting one of those out!

See our Instagram stories on 22oz Cloths for more info and specific cloth suggestions.