A cafe looking onto Piazza della Signora in Florence might seem like an odd place to embark on a three-way collaboration with two Scottish powerhouses, Walker Slater and Harris Tweed Hebrides. But, that’s where the story of producing this exclusive forest green windowpane tweed sports jacket, pictured above, began. At the tail end of Pitti Uomo on a crisp January morning earlier this year, over espressos and to-die-for pastries we discussed ways in which we could bring all three voices together and produce a jacket for Autumn/Winter 2018 that could be worn with flannel trousers or denim jeans. Overall, a jacket that is imbued with elements of understated sartorialism and British charm.
This project thus far has been a pleasure to have been a part of. Walker Slater, helmed by the inimitable Paul Walker, and Harris Tweed Hebrides, creatively directed by Mark Hogarth, are equally eager to celebrate classical menswear as The Rake and are also a riot to work with. For one, Walker Slater are leading the way in tweed innovation, adopting contemporary yarns and patterns that rally against the fusty stereotype that the cloth is sometimes subjected to. In my opinion, tweed has the most interesting history of all types of cloth, one that’s endearing and tightly woven into its rich tapestry. It’s a cloth that deserves adulation for numerous reasons, too. Did you know, for example, that it’s protected by an Act of Parliament in order to protect the livelihoods of the inhabitants of the Outer Hebrides, a small cluster of desolate but stunning islands off the north-west coast of Scotland?
The contemporary tweed specialist Walker Slater has numerous outposts across the UK. It’s an avid supporter of British-made cloth, be it flannel or tweed, and its styles of tailoring are named after stoic British names such as Edward, James and Francis. The exclusive model we've produced has been coined ‘Ronan’, which is the name of Brian Wilson, Chairman of Harris Tweed Hebrides' son. The jacket itself is a slight evolution of its more casual and fitted counterpart, the Edward, which happens to be Walker Slater’s best-selling single-breasted, notch lapel, two-button jacket (it comes with either two or three jetted flap pockets). The Ronan’s shoulder is slightly padded, but not too structured and we’ve taken in the shoulder half a centimetre and raised the armhole ever so slightly to give it more of a fitted silhouette. We’ve removed the flap pockets and replaced them with patch pockets, which “is a welcomed sartorial styling detail that is not only unusual but actually rather practical,” says Walker. These patch pockets are then complemented with a neat pattern matching of the windowpane, downplaying the formality of the silhouette so as to make it an ideal companion to smart-casual flannel trousers or even a pair of selvedge denim jeans.