If I decide to make a coat red in the show, it’s not just red, I think: is it communist red? Is it cherry cordial? Is it ruby red? Or is it apple red? Or the big red balloon red?Lady Gaga
Reader, a handcrafted, made in Britain winter coat or ( artisan country of origin coat), celebrating the art of tailoring, and inspired by the annals of history and the luminous stars of Hollywood is the perfect way to cloak yourself in a forever fashion suit of armour against the most inclement weather. Pay attention to the quality of the cloth, length, fit and attention to detail and I’m confident you could throw your ravishing new a wool military coat over your pyjamas on Christmas morning and throw snowballs with wild abandon!
Investing in a made in Britain coat fashioned to last is also a smart, sustainable fashion investment that will last you many winters, if not a whole lifetime when you treasure and care for your clothes well. The statement winter coat is the attire of Hollywood goddesses from both Hepburn’s to Marilyn Monroe, Kim Novak, Hedy Lamarr and the immortal images of Julie Christie swathed in utility military grey in Dr Zhivago.
Even more exciting, you have a dazzling array of choices, from a new made in Britain coat from a small fashion atelier to a preloved masterpiece for a great deal less than its original stellar price tag. Whatever you choose, a classic, made in Britain coat in sustainable, circular natural fibres such as wool, cashmere, alpaca, organic cotton, camel hair, silk or Harris Tweed is as essential to winter happiness, comfort and survival as a very good hairdresser to tame your tresses from the wind and cold, together, with some beautiful silk, organic brushed cotton or wool vests and organic porridge with honey every day make you glow.
As the saying goes, there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.
Now, in so many ways, winter gives the fashion lover far more divine opportunities to dress up not down and get dressed with a sense of theatre, romance and chutzpah, and lashings of old Hollywood allure. A fabulous coat does that.
A coat made to last for many seasons and outwit fleeting trends should be classical and timeless and evoke the eternal glamour of Kim Novak’s icy white cocoon car coat in Hitchcock’s Vertigo or Audrey Hepburn’s delicious Givenchy Jaffa coat in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Pops of primary colours sure look swell too on a grey January morning. The best shapes are – the pea coat, originally worn by sailors; the military coat, plundered very successfully from the military uniform dress and many a historical period drama; the Chesterfield, cocoon and car coat; and the elegant, flowing lines of a cape or cloak. Look at Cecil Beaton’s remarkable portrait of the queen in a midnight blue cape for inspiration and regal star power.
Now, without further ado, here is our guide to the best made in Britain, slow, artisan, bespoke and country of origin coats and cape makers from Oxfordshire to Manhattan and Peru.
Bespoke and handmade tailored made in Britain coats for women and men.
Do you long to dress like Julie Christie’s Lara in Dr Zhivago in a sweeping, floor-length, handmade military coat of impeccable tailoring, quality, and provenance, using sumptuous British cloth from tweed to cashmere, wool, silk, and velvet? The kind of coat that will help you face tempests with an air of pluck, invincibility and that all-important sense of theatre as well as timeless sustainable, slow fashion allure?
Then step forward Browne and Daughters, that most elusive of fashion jewels – a best-kept secret artisanal slow fashion house patronised by it girls and the aristocracy for timeless, heirloom fashion that manages to look au courant and play on fashion’s illustrious history in every cuff, lapel and tailored refined detail.
The Zchivago (£864 – £948) is an undeniable made in Britain statement winter coat. A double-breasted bespoke masterpiece for grand entrances and exits that is both practical and ravishing to behold. A coat for hopeless romantics and regal snow queens. Wear it for epic winter journeys by train and stolen kisses at the Savoy. You are even invited to make the Zchivago coat your very own! You can choose the fabric, trimmings and elegant detailing from British textiles that are exclusive to the fashion house. We also love the Lara, another floor-length coat with luxurious hem detail. It’s also possible to have it trimmed in leather or faux fur. The house also designs equally covetable short coats, notably, the Skye swing coat (£900). Its oversized patch leather pockets, leather sleeves and featured brass zip make for a breezy style homage to the sixties.
Izzy Lane produces is the place to look for a well-priced, chic, made in Britain winter coat at a great price. This small artisan fashion company produces two quintessentially made in Britain artisan, slow fashion collections a year including a small selection of very elegant, tailored classic winter coats with great attention to detail, beautiful quality and affordable luxury price tags from their very own flock of rescued Wensleydale sheep.
The founder, Isobel Lane, tells me she started the Izzy Lane fashion house to give a voice to animals in the fashion industry and to protect and champion fast-disappearing artisan fashion skills from weaving to button making.
This season there are just a few gorgeous winter coats left in a chic pea coat design in Shetland wool, with 3 button sleeve detail, deep lapels, back vent and side and front pockets. There’s also a timeless tailored, mid-length coat called The Pepper, in black worsted wool, with a chic small collar, pocket detail and fully lined. Additionally, there is also a classic pea shape for men too.
The collection also features some very hard to find tailored Miss Marple wool skirts. The kind of skirts our Queen wears at Balmoral – in a houndstooth check and a fabulous black tartan, loomed in Scotland, of course. While you are snapping up a coat, dog lovers amongst you won’t want to miss out on a very smart ethical coat for your canine friend too. They are the height of canine elegance and refinement.
A made in Britain coat with bespoke attention to detail offers a far better investment for your wardrobe in terms of quality, price, longevity, originality and sheer beauty, compared to many famous designer brands with inflated price tags. A coat costing over £1,000 is a big investment. Why not support British manufacturing and country of origin artisan slow fashion instead and become a fashion philanthropist? Many designer names outsource manufacturing to distant shores and prefer to spend their money on hype and advertising rather than on the quality of the cloth, finishing and execution of the garment often using inferior, unsustainable synthetic fibres, poor quality synthetic linings, and buttons that fall off. Natural fibres rule the roost and they don’t leach microplastics into our rivers and oceans. They are durable, made by nature to last and they can be composted at the end of their life with you.
Maquien – pronounced McQueen is different and ticks our slow fashion boxes. This made in Britain bijou fashion house offers timeless made in Britian coats and jackets in British cloth inspired by a eureka moment during a fishing expedition to the River Tay. Each garment is lovingly made in a small garment factory in the south of England.
The Duchess fit and flair swing back winter frock coat is a regal statement coat worthy of the Duchess of Cambridge or Sussex – and it’s yours from £559.00 – and you can have all the fun of selecting the colour of the cloth for your regal, thoroughly head-turning, swingy coat with opulent velvet trimmings. Note the attention to detail from the patterned brass buttons to the subtle flourishes of scarlet on the collar, contrast piping, and lining.
Maquien also has some fabulous military-style short coats, an elegantly romantic long and luxuriant winter cape lined in blue satin which is more Windsor Castle than gothic, with plenty of photo opportunities to swirl and flutter mysteriously. And we do love their new style coat Seville, which would be absolutely lovely for larking around the countryside on frosty winter mornings in boots like Cameron Diaz’s heroine in The Holiday.
It’s an oversized coat that is both glamorous and practical, although it won’t make your look like Michelin lady, with a thick jumper worn underneath. Now these details are very important. We like and admire the baby pink contrast collar detail and the deep side splits for ease of movement. Of course, the cloth is the star. A dreamy lighter cloth in pale blue English wool check. Just the ticket if you are a blonde. Once ordered, each coat takes approximately three-four weeks to be delivered.
Want to buy a stunningly beautiful preloved winter coat in natural fibres by Moschino, Harrods, Chloe, Dolce or Burberry or Aquascutum? Oxfam Fashion Online is the best-kept secret of seasoned fashion editors and the most discerning fashion lovers in search of iconic fashion, often in mint condition for around 50% – 70% less than the full price, depending on desirability and condition. This is the place to play the fashion hunter-gatherer and un-earth a beautiful donated, preloved coat by a stellar fashion house and supports Oxfam’s global humanitarian work.
Oxfam frequently receives quite extraordinarily beautiful donated items, many in mint condition by the great fashion houses – Dolce and Gabbana, Versace, Christian Lacroix, Burberry, Prada, Stella McCartney and cult artisan fashion houses such as Megan Park, Beulah and Alice Temperley and one of a kind vintage treasures from the twenties to the eighties, too, by Ossie Clarke, Yves Saint Laurent and fifties Christian Dior. Just don’t expect to snap up a vintage Dior jacket or coat for less than going rate for covetable vintage and preloved fashion. Prices are on a par with other top preloved sites. Tip – focus on less iconic designers to find a bargain and if you are are able to mend the odd hole, torn lining or upcycle an iconic garment then you can find ravishing fashion works of art that belong in the V&A! or your closet for less!
Part of the fun is turning fashion detective and seeing what one can unearth. Editor’s note – after a jolly good hunt, I’m now the new keeper of a beautiful wool tweed embellished jacket by Megan Park (a favourite designer of mine), a scarlet wool and cashmere cape, by Eric Lewis of Dublin and a pale gold boyfriend sweater by Stella McCartney. All three garments appear unworn.
Cordings is the place you go to buy a beautiful Harris Tweed coat fit for a duchess, supermodel or chatelaine of a rock star with a dash of colour or whimsy and then go for afternoon tea afterward to celebrate. It’s a cherished British institution.
Reader, I’ve loved Cordings ever since a consort of mine, with a fascinating and illustrious family tree, insisted that he needed a new gentleman’s covet coat and it had to come from Cordings of Piccadilly – country clothing meets Mayfair outfitters to royalty and rock stars for almost 200 years.
He was right. I’ve been smitten with Cordings ever since. This is the place to buy a sweeping, floor-length military ladies or gentleman’s coat made from cloth spun in Yorkshire or a dashing royal blue and plum Harris Tweed coat (£325) exuding charisma and beautiful quirky little details you won’t find anywhere else. This winter the collection of investment-worthy slow fashion coats for women and men includes a sublimely covetable Powder Blue Alpaca coat (£525) fit for Eric’s first wife, model Patti Boyd.
This historical Regent St emporium is a delicious haven where the unabashed fashion eccentric will feel right at home. While you could buy a coat from Cordings online store, we urge you to go and visit – it’s rather fun and you can lap up the fantastic customer service and original wooden shop fittings. Cording’s ravishing collection of jewel-coloured Harris Tweed coats perfectly embodies the beauty of Scotland – from the heather to the starry, ink blue skies over Skye. The only thing that would improve on this perfection is to bring manufacturing back to the UK, not Austria.
How many jewels of quintessential British Fashion History are lucky enough to be rescued from the vagaries of mere trends by one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time? Namely, Eric Clapton, rock and roll prince, covet coat lover and now shopkeeper and joint MD of Cordings of Piccadilly, just a hop and slip from the Café Royal and Whole Foods cathedral to organic food.
As a young musician, Eric Clapton used to wander around Piccadilly until dawn, after seeing a band in the West End. It was on one such night that he discovered Cordings. At first, the working-class young man felt he didn’t belong in the rarefied world of Cordings. Fortunately, success gave him the confidence to walk right in and Clapton became its best customer and now its custodian.
“I became aware of Cordings; I think when I was in my mid teens. I come from the country, and the highlight of our week would be to come up to London and listen to guitar players and musicians, and it was difficult to get home. I’d spend that time till dawn just walking the West End and I remember Cordings. It stuck in my mind as a place of tradition, part of the heritage of England.“Eric Clapton (BBC British Style Genius)
Thank goodness he did. Now this country meets Mayfair bastion of British tailoring for men and women too (since 2003) is embracing its roots and focusing on made in Britain elegant, English eccentric tailored clothing and supporting our iconic tweeds, twills and worsteds forever in fashion.
This season it’s exciting to see People Tree, the pioneering organic and fair-trade fashion house launch a classic, minimalist black quilted winter coat in 100% GOTS certified organic cotton.
The sleek, sportswear-inspired quilted design is elegantly chic, and falls just below the knee and features a stand-up collar, central zip, drawstring waist, corozo buttons, pockets and just below the knee length.
It’s a coat that borrows from iconic Italian design and could be worn for any occasion, making it an organic fashion best buy to take you from the office to a smart evening out over a vintage evening gown or cigarette pants.
The coat is fully lined in organic cotton, making it cosy and practical, whatever the weather this winter.
Bravo People Tree, we look forward to seeing more classic coat designs in certified organic cotton and wool for next winter.
Peruvian Connection and its boho-chic alpaca fashion collections came into being as the result of one beautiful and very glamorous baby alpaca coat bought as a gift twenty-five years ago.
Now, this small, perfectly formed artisan alpaca and Pima cotton fashion house based in the USA and Europe crafts exquisite alpaca coats, ruanas and capes using ethical alpaca yarn and by harnessing the ancient artisan craft skills of garment workers in Peru.
From the eternal glamour and sublime warmth of the original Biddy alpaca coat, trimmed with plush baby alpaca fur – to the crisp military lines of of the Vicarage grey alpaca and wool winter coat ($698), the rich, jewelled-hues of the Nunavut alpaca blanket coat ($350) or the sixties allure of the Heirloom Afghan coat in hand crochet un-dyed alpaca yarn (now $479, normally $798). Peruvian Connection is the go-to brand for a coat, cape or ruana of many hues with a dash of whimsy or pop art. A coat that appeals to the fashion extrovert, and eternal nomad. A woman who never follows the herd.
A visit to the Kings Road shop is a must to find a beautiful and unusual winter coat in sustainable alpaca with a dash of Victoriana or a ravishing print taken from a piece of art history. This is the place to find a coat to turn heads and swathe yourself in a piece of fashion art.
Sustainability Info – Please note that all alpaca yarn and fur comes from alpaca that perish during the long harsh winters in the Andes. Harvesting the wool and fur provides a sustainable and fairtrade income for artisan weavers and their families and protects the habitat and an ancient way of life.
From day one Toast has worn its ethical and authentic principles with style and breezy optimism, championing the idea of slow fashion and sustainable natural fibres, artisan craft skills, and organic cotton in its collections inspired by artists and workwear.
That hasn’t changed too much as Toast has become a small fashion chain. It is a good place to look for a mid to high-end classic, quality winter coat made to last from a blend of natural fibres including wool, tweed, linen, mohair, cotton and alpaca and plant-based synthetic fibres. However, it’s disappointing to see that the coats are not manufactured in the UK. To do so would give a great boost to our homegrown tailoring and garment factories.
A Toast coat offers a marriage of utility and function, with unfussy, elegant clean lines and beautiful, durable cloth including this season’s favoured dogtooth ($675) – perfect for keeping the weather out and jumping in icy puddles. The current collection also features a rather delectable long Cotton Velvet Evening coat ($450) – perfect for a night at the opera a la Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.
If money is no object and you want to commission a ravishing, made in Britain couture, fashion work of art coat, inspired the golden age of Hollywood – then the name for your little black book is Atelier Tammam in London’s leafy Bloomsbury. A slow fashion house loved by Poldark starlet Eleanor Tomlinson.
Creative Director Lucy Tammam is an ethical, slow fashion trailblazer. She studied fashion and textiles at St Martin’s School of Art and Design and she has a passion for the bold, opulent style of the fifties and Dior’s ‘new look’. She also cares deeply about preserving the vanishing skills of the couturier. Lucy has spent the past decade perfecting the exquisite craft skills of the couture atelier from fine embroidery to making toiles and setting up an ethical fabric supply chain. Lucy’s one of a kind garments are fashioned in lustrous peace silk, linen, English lace and certified organic cotton.
The houndstooth fit and flair fifties slow couture coat is a monochrome fashion masterpiece, celebrating the fine art of couture tailoring and the optimism of the post-war style. Imagine having such a coat fashioned to fit you, and you alone? Price on application.
Lucy and her team also offer a service where they will upcycle a vintage piece to give it a 21st– century edge, with exquisite embellishments and sublime tailoring for a perfect fit. Atelier Tammam
Love reading our slow fashion articles? Check this fashion story – On Swarovksi Crystal and the Conscious Design Programme to Teach Circular Fashion to the next generation.
We hope you have thoroughly enjoyed reading the first chapter of our Made in Britain Coats feature and slow fashion guide to coats. We will continue to add new coat makers as we research and write about them.
Want to watch our slow fashion journalism in action? Tune in and watch our editor AJ, interview Edwina Ehrman, the curator of the Fashioned from Nature Exhibition at the V&A Museum and learn about the last 400 years in fashion and its impact on nature. Fashioned from Nature Documentary
Made in Britain Coats & Slow Artisan Luxury Coats