Every now and then, something crops up on the sartorial radar that gets me properly hot under the collar. Mason & Sons is a brand, or rather a parent company, which only really cropped up on our radar last year, introduced by The Rake's Benedict Browne, who interviewed the firm’s paterfamilias, David Mason, for our ‘Words of Wisdom’ series. For context, Mason owns a number of heritage British brands under the umbrella of Mason & Sons, including Anthony Sinclair (Sean Connery/James Bond’s original tailor), psychedelic 1970s shirtmaker Mr Fish, heritage British eyewear brand Curry & Paxton, and a fair few others besides.
Motoluxe is one of the latest additions to the house’s portfolio, and although its over 100 years old, it’s been lying dormant since the 1960s, so resurrecting it back to life has been something of a labour of love. It’s a plan Mason’s had in the pipeline for several years, but as it turns-out sourcing authentic deep-pile Alpaca for authentic ‘teddy bear’ coats is no easy thing. “It’s incredibly fiddly stuff to weave, and the demand is limited” explains Mason, “it took me five years to track down a supplier of real ‘teddy bear’ quality Alpaca, the cloth mills are starting to use worsted Alpaca more commonly but this deep-pile cotton-backed quality is a rarity.”
The teddy bear coat’s design is borne, like all the best things, of the joint requirement for luxury and practicality. At the turn of the twentieth century, motoring was a pastime reserved exclusively for the upper echelons of society, such was the expense involved. Indeed, it was considered an ‘outdoor’ sport, partially because early motors came sans roof and heating system, and as such, it demanded a substantial complement of protective clothing to undertake comfortably. Quite apart from the mandatory driving cap, goggles and tough leather gauntlets, large A-line cotton ‘duster coats’ were worn in the summer to protect the driver from dust thrown up in the car’s wake. In winter, when temperatures plummeted, huge insulating fur or deep-pile Alpaca ‘teddy bear’ coats were worn to counteract the effect of the car’s airstream. It didn’t take long for the look to garner connotations of glamour, adventure and exclusivity.