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July 31 2014

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At Woolrich Woolen Mills, The Rough With The Smooth

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The torch has been passed at Woolrich Woolen Mills, not with a flame but with a parka. The old designer (Daiki Suzuki of Engineered Garments) and the new (Mark McNairy, formerly of J.Press and founder of the blogger-worshipped line Mark McNairy New Amsterdam) joined forces for an overcoat they called the Four Hands Parka, modeled on a vintage Woolrich model from the thirties originally designed for an Arctic expedition.

That’s as good a guide as any to the hardiness that’s characterized the WWM brand since its founding—whether or not the soft-handed fashion types who buy it at stores like Barneys and Ron Herman will ever get near an ice cap. McNairy’s been building a reputation for himself as a premier reinterpreter of classic Americana, and his ace in the hole is the poppy irreverence he brings to the often worshipful, slightly humorless world of workwear wonkdom. So a found fabric with a geometric square motif—originally intended for blankets, most likely—becomes a hooded duffel coat; McNairy likened it to a digital camo pattern. Another duffel comes (sacré bleu!) striped. Bowties in tartan, camp pockets on a herringbone blazer, blocks of contrasting print on a button-down: McNairy mentioned mashing traditions, and it showed. He drew on Woolrich’s historic military wear, and also on its lesser-known Ivy League tradition. They found their joint avatar in John F. Kennedy, collegian turned navy man.

With Woolen Mills, Woolrich continues to do vintage smart: the rough stuff remade for the finer tastes. And speaking of those, check out the giant military tent (above) erected in one room of the presentation. It may look like the M*A*S*H mess hall, but it came stocked with local Milanese and Tuscan fare, carbon-footprint info included.

Photo: Tim Barber / Courtesy of Woolrich Woolen Mills

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