The Permanent Style x Cromford shearling coat

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Friday, November 27th 2020
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I’ve been lucky this year that so many outerwear collaborations have come to fruition - no delays, no problems, everything fulfilling my expectations. That doesn’t always happen. 

This next one is no less exciting than the others, but I should note now that is being sold by Cromford Leather, not Permanent Style, and that it is mostly made to order/measure. 

Shearling is expensive, and stocking a volume of it is hard. Particularly when - as with pretty much everything we do - the aim is the finest quality in the world. Even buying the skins (nine for each jacket) makes you think twice. 

So Cromford have a small size run available now, and have bought skins to make more - either made to order (no size changes) or made to measure (their normal MTM service). Details on both of those, timings etc, at the bottom of this post. 

There are 20 jackets available in total, the RTW or MTO being £2250 (ex VAT) and the MTM £2812 (always 25% higher than their RTW). 

The key thing that frustrates me about shearling coats is the colours. 

There is certainly an attraction to wools and skins that are undyed, or more natural in colour. I assume that must be the reason why so many are pale, particularly light brown and tan. 

But it makes a shearling coat more striking than it needs to be, and probably less versatile. It’s also what drives the few negative (British) associations there are, such as John Motson or Del Boy

And it’s much less practical. Shearling isn’t that hard to look after, if you brush it down and keep the nap up. It’s robust and fine in light rain, in the same way suede is. 

But pale colours will show dirt much more quickly. Why someone like Ralph Lauren offers them in pale grey I’ll never know. Perhaps the typical Purple Label customer never ventures out into inclement weather anyway. 

So the shearling I’ve designed with Cromford is a deep, muted olive on the outside, with a dark brown wool on the inside. This double dyeing is not easy or cheap, but I do think it creates a coat that is very wearable, while still being distinctive. 

The other thing that frustrates me about shearling I’ve tried and worn in the past, is the traditional shapes. (Don’t worry, there are only two of these bugbears.)

Quite a few fall into one of two camps: either a big, chunky flight jacket, or a long, thigh length tube. 

I can completely understand the appeal of the first. It looks manly, rugged and traditional. In my life I’ve bought two, a vintage one and a new one from Nigel Cabourn. 

The vintage one wasn’t great (shearling tends to rip when it’s decades’ old) and while I still love the Cabourn one, it’s too thick to wear unless the temperature is -5 or below. Which isn’t often in the UK in recent years. 

More importantly, though, that bomber style is really only a casual piece, to wear with jeans, and it can feel like wearing a very particular look - like wearing a black leather jacket. 

The other shape I dislike is hip length or longer, single breasted, and perhaps lacks style. It’s looks purely practical, designed to cover the body and nothing more. Motson favoured that style. 

That thought process led to a design for our coat that was hip length, but with a sweeping double-breasted front to give it some style. 

The double-breasted front was influenced by a vintage piece I found, but also by the lapels on the Bridge Coat we make with Private White VC. The line here is not as dramatic as that, but you will see echoes of it in the slimmer waist, rounded shape through the chest, and then neck-framing collar. 

There are of course lots of other double-breasted shearling coats out there, but I’ve yet to find one that has this combination of sartorial lapel shape and practical length. I remember agonising over a Zegna one two years ago, but it just had a narrow, straight wrap on the DB, and was probably too pale in colour. 

One of the most satisfying things about designing outerwear like this, is the ability to make your dream coat. 

Something our vintage piece contributed to the design was a double layer of shearling on the collar and lapels. 

 

This allows the coat as a whole to be use lighter skins than most, making it easier to wear. But then the double layer at the front gives the lapels style and shape, while protecting the parts of you that need it most: the chest and neck. 

This difference is subtle, and might even go unnoticed by someone wearing it, but I think is key to this design being so functional. 

I was also very keen to make sure the fronts do button easily all the way up - there’s plenty of room under the chin. And the plunge pockets are set far enough forward to be easy to use too. 

Similarly to the Wax Walker, we also made these plunge pockets deep enough so that they can work as receptacles for your phone, wallet, keys etc, and use the hip pockets for your hands if you prefer (as I do). 

The shearling we used is Spanish merino. This is extremely soft compared to a lot of others used, such as entrefino, which tends to be thicker and rigid. The merino is dense though, and it is the density which gives it warmth. 

These types of skins are considered ‘double face’ in that both sides are treated (and dyed) without the wool of the sheep being removed. Often cheaper shearlings are actually two separate skins, a suede and a wool, which are sewn together because it’s cheaper (a little like split suedes). 

The outer side has a suede finish, and the inner is semi-curly wool, cut to 10mm length. An average of nine skins are required per coat, as mentioned. 

Basically, our aim was to make the finest shearling possible, using the finest materials. That isn’t the aim of every maker, but it is ours, and that’s why pieces like this are necessarily expensive. I won’t have to tell regular readers that a coat like this would be over £5,000 from a larger, designer brand. (Indeed, Cromford makes for some of them.)

Other design details on the coat include a small, zipped pocket on the inside - which is something that’s hard to do on shearling, given there is no lining, and so is often left out. 

There’s also a throat latch, which we widened and placed lower on the neck, to make sure no cold winds slip through between body and collar (which again, seems to happen on most coats - and which we did on the Donegal Coat too).

Finally, this isn’t a design detail, but it’s worth pointing out that shearling can look nice with the sleeves rolled back a little, as shown below. This is useful because it avoids sizing problems for anyone that’s a little shorter, or has relatively short arms.

Oh, and for those that are interested, the shearling is a by-product of the lamb industry, as most are. 

Ordering details:

  • 10 coats are available now, two in every size from S to XXL, costing £2250 (ex VAT) 
  • Skins are available for a further 10 coats, which can be made to these standard sizes, or made to measure 
  • If you order a RTW coat, it will be ready in three weeks
  • If you order MTM, it will take roughly eight weeks and cost £2812 (ex VAT). The extra time is consultation, and shipping and making toile fittings
  • The MTM must be in the same style as this coat, but otherwise there are no limitations
  • If you want a different style, this is a bespoke service, which should be discussed separately with Cromford
  • Ordering is through the Cromford Leather website here
  • All extra information, including care and sizing, can be obtained through contact with Cromford. I measure a 39-inch chest, am 6 foot tall, and wear a Medium

Other clothes shown:

  • Cream and red cashmere watch caps, from Permanent Style 
  • Jeans, bespoke from Levi’s Lot No.1
  • Grey crewneck, cashmere from Luca Faloni
  • Vintage bandana, from The Vintage Showroom
  • Grey flannel trousers, from Whitcomb & Shaftesbury
  • Navy roll neck, from Edward Sexton

Photography: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man

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Anonymous

Great coat Simon! At which temperatures would it keep you warm?

Anonymous

And, conversely, what would be the warmest temperature you’d be likely to wear it in?

Motty

For those of you watching in black and white, Simon is wearing the brown coat…

Tamaki

HI Simon,
Happy to know your collaborations are doing so well. I really like the designs you create, even though some are not for me (more in terms of the purpose of the garments than the style themselves. Ex: the Wax Walker isn’t very practical for me because I’m quite distracted and would wax all other garments I have)

On this collaboration, I think it would be nice to mention that I really liked that 1) The name on Cromford site says “Crompton’ and 2) the fact that Cromford put a person to use their jackets. I find very hard to assess Cromford style, leathers, and color purely on shots of the the garments themselves without context. I believe that if Cromford did that, it would be great, because their product does seem very good (I bought your leather jacket from Cromford on Markkt, which I love)

Anonymous

Don’t really know why, but this is the first PS product that made me go meh… Sorry for the negative feedback!

Boyce

Pack up the suitcases, Rodney, the old bill has arrived on the manor!
Derrick Trotter would have been hawking these in Peckham

Ian

looks really nice quality, any news on the selvidge oxord shirt coming out?

Mbb355

Sorry to get off-topic, but does this mean you’ll be releasing a new selveldge chambray shirt? Or does this mean you’ll be re-releasing the selvedge chambray cloth?

Robin

I think you’ve really stamped your mark with this .
Most shearling coats look hideous .
Often worn by middle aged gentleman with no sense of style.

This has a beautiful collar , a degree of tailoring to give it shape and a incredible colour.
Without doubt , more then any other PS product , with this one you’ve filled a huge gap in the market .
Retailers would do well to just copy / ‘rip off’ this design .

P.S. incredibly jealous that I could never afford something like this !

Colin

Sensational; modern, classic and practical! How does the shearling used compare to that used by Private White in, for example, their Jeep Coat, rather than their Deluxe Shearling Flight Jacket, which was a collab with Cromford Leather.

Another Simon

Spot on about the colour. I keep hoping I can find some vintage piece that can tick some of these boxes since I could never afford something like this new, but this is great inspiration.

robert kubek

I hesitate to say this but this coat is simply spectacular.

EL

Gorgeous coat. This is a very nice design. I don’t think shearling fits into my aesthetic and I have more than enough outerwear, but this coat tempts me anyway.

Chris K

Simon,

I’m going to go ahead and say that, in my opinion, despite admiring many PS pieces, from fabrics to coats and jackets, this is perhaps your finest work yet. Awesome. The choice of colours, the cut, the weight everything. I can tell this has been a long time coming, particularly as I recall some time ago you mentioning a continuous search for the perfect shearling coat, which you hadn’t found to date.

I struggle to justify it this year, but can I ask is it something that would be likely to make a return next year (in this colour)?

Many thanks, the very best
Ck

Paul

A lovely coat – although I must admit that my initial reaction on first sight was “that’s a shearling version of the Bridge Coat!” But none the worse for the design aspects they share – the Bridge Coat is a thing of beauty, too…

Sadly, I won’t be investing in this shearling; aside from being considerably above my current financial comfort threshold, it’s the sort of thing I’d have very limited opportunities to wear – the British winter rarely gets cold enough IMHO. I’ll have to settle for lusting after it from afar, and wear one of my other PS coats instead.

J

Looks absolutely awesome. It has an old artic explorer vibe to it if you know what I mean. I’m afraid a coat like this is to warm for the climate in Holland these days though.. Simon, I was just wondering.. The subject value of clothing and all the effects on the world resources ect. are often writen about in your posts. How do you personally feel about buying as much clothing as you do and even producing some? I understand that it’s all quality stuff that will probably last much longer than a standard garment , but still.. Is it something you think about? Sorry if this may seem off topic.. Thanks you very much!

Phil

Simon,
Congratulations on a beautiful garment. How versatile would you say this jacket is in comparison to the FW2020 Donegal? Could this have a place in a casual capsule wardrobe as you have outlined previously? Could you put this on over jeans and a jacket? I’m having a hard time picturing it. Thanks!

Dr Peter

This article is perfectly timed! A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a vintage shearling coat in excellent, undamaged condition (no tears or stains) from a local thrift shop. It is a three button style, about mid-thigh in length and a good fit for me, except for the cuffs which I have to roll up a single fold. And of course, it is a bulky garment. It is US-made and has the label of the American company Schott, which is famous for its good-quality pea coats. This jacket has two large pockets near the bottom, but no hand-warmer pockets.

Unlike London, however, the winters in the frozen tundras of Wisconsin will provide ample opportunity for me to wear this shearling coat. We have plenty of days where the temperatures get to -30 degrees Fahrenheit. This coat will be toasty on such days, along with one of those Russian-style wool hats to warm my bald pate! I have one of those too, another vintage acquisition, although I am unsure whether that is real fur or faux fur. My total outlay for this shearling coat was a princely $25.00 plus sales tax.

Josh

Magnificent. It really has been a good year for PS outerwear! Frustratingly for me, they’ve mostly been variations on pieces I already have some facsimile of – I have too many gaps in my core wardrobe to justify a second shearling jacket (or a wax, for that matter) at this point 😌

Hal

The two-hole, brown, horn buttons are delicious Simon. Where can I find some?
Hal

Daniel

This design is exactly what i look for. The only over complication is the pockets. I find that handwarmer pockets remove the ability to incorporate internal zip pockets. I would have gone with similar deeper plunge pockets with slanted entry.

Jason

A fabulous piece of design, great skin choices and a beautiful colour.
That said, its uses are extremely limited and in my case, the cost per wear would be off the Richter scale.
Falls under the heading of nice to have but in no way essential.
I would think differently if I went to every winter race meeting !

Graham Meek

Just wanted to add a personal note about my experience with Cromford. I had a MTM shearling jacket made last winter, dark navy blue/black wool, and the whole process of dealing with the team was superb. Totally extravagant purchase and just need the cold weather to wear it!

Andreas

Have to agree on the impracticality of light colored shearling; this season, the store I work for offers a creamy-white Zegna shearling jacket, and needless to say, we haven’t sold a single one so far.

It’s also really hard to find one of these if you’re a slim guy, as most stores tend to stock shearling outerwear in size 48 and up (and that’s usually a very generous 48), with some even starting at 50.

Peter Hall

Fabulous colour. Modern and practical.

Tore

Agree with the others – magnificent coat, and fabulous colour! A couple of questions about sizing: are you a solid Medium here, Simon, or could you also wear either Small or Large? Is the sizing comparable to that of any of the PW collaboration coats? Thanks!

Alan

Hey Simon. Looking to ordeer this coat but sizing decision is tough like always for me! They don’t really provide measurements as I asked via email. I am an M in the Wax Walker, The Trench, and the original raglan overcoat. I am an L in the Bridge, your polo knits, and the oxfords (though I usually have to take those in a bit in the bod). Any thoughts? Thank you.

Alan

Hey Simon, they did reply and recommended a large but they didn’t provide measurements. Will take their advice and return if it doesn’t work. If only the market made an M-L size. As I age (hopefully gracefully?), becoming a 41 has been a pain at times

Andrew

Simon, well done. You’ve absolutely nailed it. I’ve never been a fan before but, with your two gripes addressed, I see it’s really practical and looks great. Really impressive

Andrew Martin

Simon, are you going to do a Holiday Gift Guide as in years past? Thanks!

Steve

Great stuff, Simon. Are these kinds of coats hard to maintain? Will just a suede brush really do to keep it looking good over the years?

Secondly, I don’t know if you can give a preview but for those of us who can’t purchase it this time around, are there already changes you intend to make when you produce another run of these next year?

Michael

Hi Simon,
How did you tied your scarf? I don’t see any knot in front for this is a casual look and I like it. Thanks

peter

hi simon, when youre wearing your medium, did you have any pulling when buttoned up ? i was wearing same amount of layers as you in your photos when i tried on my normal size in small but in my opinion, jackets fits slim- i had pulling.
had to size up so was wondering how you can fit a medium when im normally a chest size 34/36.

Shem

Hi simon can i ask what is your experience dealing with the team from markkt? There are a few items I would like to purchase from them but have been hesitant as they have never replied a single email I have sent them regarding item meaurments. They also do not seem to reply to their ‘live chat’ on the website. While it states they do offer refunds etc. I’m really not sure about using them given their lack of correspondence

RT

It isn’t! Based on my experience as both potential buyer and seller.

Danny

+1! I’ve been trying to sell some things with them over the last few months. Communication isn’t great and I get the feeling they’re quite disorganised. I’m not 100% confident I’ll ever see anything from the items I sent them, but it’s a risk I took.

Richard

Hi Simon,

Nice touch to have the coat named Crompton on Cromford’s website.

Whilst I’d aspire to have a MTM/bespoke jacket from Cromford it’s not currently attainable on my budget.

Is there another MTM/bespoke leather jacket maker that is cheaper whilst still having a decent standard of craftmanship and quality of materials? Albeit not on par with Cromford.

Richard

PETE

before i take the plunge on this colorway, i’d like to check if you are planning on doing another colour this year, if so, what colour would it the outside and inside be?
would be great if you have any information so i can plan my purchase. thanks!