The story behind the English Tweed coat

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When we develop a new coat with Private White VC, Lucas and I generally travel up to Manchester to them in person, to talk through the idea and dig into the archive. 

At the end of last year, when we went up to discuss our ‘English Tweed’ project, it also turned into a road trip, with five of us shuttling along the M62 from Salford to Slaithwaite to see Marling & Evans. I’d never been to the mill, and Mike Stoll at PWVC thought some M&E cloth might be a good fit for the coat. 

It ended up feeling something like destiny.

The dynamics in a car are interesting. Suddenly the relationships between people change, with one person in charge and others feeling like kids in the back. It’s perfectly acceptable to stare out of the window and say nothing - but people do also share completely random thoughts. It’s cosy and intimate, yet no one is looking at each other. 

My abiding memory of that journey was seeing the farm that famously sits between two halves of the M62, Stott Hall Farm (above). The story is that the owner refused to move out when the motorway was developed, and so it's plonked incongruously between the north and south lanes. 

I think at this point someone else in the car pointed out that this isn’t quite right. That actually the land couldn’t be used for the motorway because it was too steep, so the farmer is not the reason for the bifurcated traffic. Still, he could have moved out and decided to remain there, tending his sheep. 

Weird conversation. Not something we’d ever talk about if we weren’t all sitting in a car, staring out at the countryside.

When we arrived at Marling & Evans it was a pleasant sight. The local industrial area is being redeveloped (above), and M&E's neighbours are The Handmade Bakery and Hillside Harmonies record shop. The hills slope down steeply all around, and the River Colne (rather like the M62 around Stott Hall) flows thoughtfully around either side of the complex. 

Mark Garrett of Marling & Evans was outside to greet us and conducted a quick tour of the mill, before we sat down with cups of tea to talk about our reference coat - a vintage piece from 1980 I’d picked up a few weeks earlier. 

Mark and Mike began turning the coat over, talking about the period. Both were working back then, both in the same industries, and they realised they might have made the coat together - Mark the cloth and Mike the coat (shown below, right and left respectively). 

In fact the more they looked at the details, the more likely it seemed. Mike has been making British outerwear for decades in what is now the Private White factory - hence the extensive archive. Our task shifted from trying to create something new to remembering how the original had been made. 

The cloth Mike had had in mind was Marling & Evans undyed wool, which is made from local sheep and seemed close to the spirit of the original. 

But we would certainly want to develop our own version - which is an aspect of PS products I probably don't emphasise enough. 

The material used in the English Tweed coat is not one you can buy anywhere. Just like the Donegal coat, the weight, density and colour combination are all specific choices of ours. The fact some M&E undyed wool is available by the cut length has caused confusion with some readers, asking which swatch it is. But nothing else is the same. 

The journey to develop it started that day in Slaithwaite, when Mark went to see if he had a spare length of the undyed quality. He did, so we lugged that big roll out to the car and stuck it in the boot (above) to take back to PWVC. 

In the next few weeks we went through three other permutations, though, before arriving at the tweed we wanted. It had to be heavy enough to be a real winter weight, but also soft enough to give that reassuring sponginess. The colours also changed, with grey and black being replaced with a more subtle grey/cream mix in one direction, and dark brown in the other. 

As I said in the launch article, developing your own products really makes you realise how much these little decisions contribute to good design, and how much time it takes. 

I’ve worn the coat on my travels this winter - to New York back in October, to Seoul a fortnight ago - and it’s proved practical, warm and reassuring. 

We just missed the snow in Seoul, but there was still an icy wind now and again, and the coat was nice buttoned up to the chin. In New York the weather was warmer than normal, but in the evening there were cold winds that fly down NYC’s long, straight streets. 

The picture at the top of this article was taken by Rubato in New York, for an upcoming journal piece. It shows how I wore the coat most days: open, with a knit and a pair of flannels, not too warm but ready to button up against the cold. 

In Seoul it had to be rather smarter, as I was seeing tailors every day and having fittings. But it admirably there too, never looking too casual and holding a hat and notebook in the big hip pockets.

I love bespoke overcoats and they will probably always be my favourite, but it’s great to have something soft and easy that can also cross over between smart and casual. 

Thank you to Mark and Mike for sharing all their history with us, and to Rubato for the use of the photo. That journal piece, with more of Oliver’s lovely photography, will be on their site when it’s ready

The English Tweed coat is available here. Some snaps below of the M&E mill.

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Hi Simon,
An interesting insight about the coat development and the road trip. As long as you had sunglasses and a full tank of gas!
Wishing you, you family, the PS Team and all your readers a Merry Christmas.


Hi Simon,
Thanks for making it plain that the Permanent Style fabrics are unique.
As with everything the less you know the more you assume and so it is good to be informed.
Your explanations and detail add to the value of the products, there is an old saying “you are always down on what you are not up on.”
Have a good Xmas


North and South!! East and West c’mon! Brilliant article and many thanks for a great year of many of the same. PS just gets better as it matures and really hoping in 2024 you add more to the lookbook (what a great resource) and even more interview films – absolutely brilliant stuff of late – you would get a new year honour if it was up to me. Many thanks again.


Hi Simon,

Great article. Very interesting to read about the development process.

Unrelated question: Do you have any recommendations for shops to check out in Brussels and/ or Amsterdam? My family and I will be spending the Christmas holiday split between the two.

Wishing you and yours the best over the holidays.


david rl fan

Hi Mike, Never been but Pauw IMO looks great and I just found Oger the other day, Both look to have stores in Amsterdam

Ras Minkah

Pauw Mannen in Amsterdam is a really fantastic shop with some nice brands some of which have been covered on this site


Thank you all for the recommendations! Happy Christmas!


In reference to that farm, the great John Shuttleworth wrote a good song about it. The song is actually about regret and it often goes through my head when I think of those impulsive clothing purchases that never justified themselves through wear, or alterations that made a garment worse. ‘Some things you just can’t undo…’


Hi Simon,

Is that Rubato knit fawn or the ecru colour?


Hi Simon,
A very subtle look!
Would youd mind specifying your size when it comes to Rubato knit?


Thanks Simon


Very pleased to read this article as yesterday whilst visiting home for Christmas I was able to make the same trip over in the opposite direction from West Yorkshire to Manchester for the day and I had the pleasure of visiting Private White V.C.  Sarah, the brother of James Eden gave us a tour of the factory and it was a fantastic experience that I highly recommend to anyone who is interested in making a purchase, or who indeed has already made a purchase from the company.  Sarah was a fantastic guide, and all the staff were wonderfully friendly.  
Whilst there the cutting team on the top floor were making up some suede bombers and due to the characteristics of that particular material, they had to cut the patterns by hand which was fascinating to see and shows the skill of the staff who are behind the brand.  Another highlight was visiting the archive room seeing the breadth of garments that the factory has produced over the years.  I was left with the distinct impression Simon that you have an abundance of items to take inspiration from in that room in order to produce many more great collaborations over the coming years. 
In terms of items, I had the pleasure of trying on the PS English Tweed Coat and I loved it.  I expected it to be heavier than it was from the photos as it seemed comparable to a vintage military DB wool coat I have which actually is a lot heavier and stiffer.  Maybe my misconception is due to the fact I did not expect the tweed to feel so soft and malleable, because as you wrote in the article that sponginess of the weave really does shine through. It was contrary to my preconceptions about how Tweed should feel.  
Interestingly I had gone there hoping to pick up a PS Herringbone Donegal but unfortunately, they were sold out of my size (any news on planned restocks of Size 4 Simon would be much appreciated) so I tried it on in a different colour and it was interesting comparing the Donegal to the English Tweed.  I think that the Donegal seems more versatile on a couple of levels:
–       Firstly, in terms of weight the Donegal is clearly lighter not only from the material but also the fact it is not DB which makes a really notable difference in overall garment weight that I didn’t appreciate.  For me personally the Donegal would undoubtedly work better for me given that I live in Italy so I feel it would get far more use throughout the year compared to the English Tweed…if I was still living back in Yorkshire I may come to the opposite conclusion on that evaluation.
–       The second aspect I noticed, and I am not sure if I have correctly understand why this is but the herringbone pattern in the Donegal seems to have far more clarity and crispness compared to the English Tweed which seems more fuzzy (I guess it is the tightness of the weave perhaps?).  For some reason I think the more defined Donegal Grey Herringbone goes better with tailoring and gives off a slightly more formal flavour. (Simon on a sidenote I do not know if it is possible, but I think it would be great to see the English Tweed expanded into different colour variations next winter as it would look superb in brown similar to the material you used for your Liverano Ulster Coat…maybe some food for thought).
Overall, I would highly recommend visiting the factory as I was left with the distinct feeling that it is a unique place and added to my admiration for the brand.  I really hope there are many more collaborations to come.

Joel Benford

Hi Simon,
Do you have any thoughts on dyeing the fabric?
Carole Jackson says I’m a summer and grey looks dead on me…


The spongy casual feel of the thick fabric is lovely (and cuddly even like a luxury bathrobe) – as I was able to see/touch in NYC in the October Pop Up event.
Have you ever considered offering a traditional, smart Navy blue double-breasted overcoat (below knee length)? Similar to Cyril Castle’s creation for Roger Moore in Live and Let Die. Not necessarily a velvet Chesterfield collar – but basically a more formal and lengthy rendition of the your Bridge Coat. Although this is a smart overcoat and may not get as many occasions to wear – it would certainly have its moments to shine.


If I can give my two cents, while it’s not the smart db coat mentioned above, the same cut as the english tweed, perhaps with a open slit in the back rather than a pleat, in a nice clean navy fabric would be a superb coat to have. Similarly would the regular raglan you do, in a clean navy or a nice light color like oatmeal/sand or indeed camel, but the latter would be more showy than some might care for.
I’d personally have a hard time not getting both of those.


Hi Simon,
This is a superb coat! Design wise, it’s the best! That’s an instance that exhibits how PS lives up to its promise!
I’m really delighted that you’ve managed to come up with such a coat! Nowhere else to be seen!


Happy holidays 2 u and family…best of health 2 you …your wife and daughters in 2024..cheers and much peace


Hello, I am still very much a novice on these issues but this coat is a thing of beauty. If possible could you point me in the direction of a manufacturer who makes similar currently. Many thanks


Price isn’t an issue, as a 6 foot 4 man with a 30 inch waist and 36 inch leg off the peg has never suited me so I have all my clothes tailored to fit or I have to go for clothes that, even with a slim fit, are far too baggy. The longer English tweed jacket made to measure (bespoke?) Seems to fit the bill perfectly as you are wearing it rather than it wearing you if that makes sense


Out or curiosity, Simon. Is your tweed coat an earlier sample or cut different somehow, than the ones sold? I’ve noticed in every single photo of you wearing the coat, the collar and lapels stand in a completly different way that they do on mine. I love my coat, and the way the collar stands in the back then softly flops toward the edges, suits the cuit of the coat very well. But I wouln’t mind being able to make the whole collar and even lapels stand straighter, like yours often seem to do.


Happy New Year.
I would be interested in your opinion of a Bridge coat made using a similar cloth?


I think it would be interesting if you could include some pictures of the original coat.


Hi Simon, I bought the coat recently and while I love it, I’m having some issues with the collar not staying up. Despite my best efforts, it’s constantly flopping back down within seconds of putting it up. Similar to what you’ve written, I really only wish to wear it with the collar up. I noticed in the product description you wrote there’s a “crescent insert” at the neck to keep it up. On mine, I see what I think is crescent stitching at the neck, but there is no kind of material “insert” in the neck apart from the wool; should there be? — I was wondering if maybe I got an earlier sample or something like that. If it helps to determine, I did also notice my inside pockets were beige, whereas one I had tried on earlier (slightly too small) had black pockets. For that reason, I was thinking maybe I ended up with a different version? If note, is there some type of adjustment that can be made to keep the collar up? I did buy from the PW site, the reason being I temporarily/strangely forgot I can buy it from the PS shop, and sort of made the quick purchase over there. Hoping you can advise! Thanks! <3