Weaving fine cloth is a very precise craft, but common terminology for textiles can be sloppy.
Any fancy check is labelled a Prince of Wales these days, but that term refers to a particular checked pattern using specific colours. This beautiful three-quarter coat in flannel does not employ a Prince of Wales check.
Rather, the stunning oversized design is a version of a glen check, one of myriad patterns that became popular in the 19th century on hunting clothes for the aristocracy, especially in Scotland. It is a masculine and evocative design, here given a striking contemporary aspect by being magnified to a large scale.
Jigsaw turned to classic producers to create the flannel cloth. Fine fibres from Australian merino sheep were dyed, carded (or brushed) and spun by Z Hinchliffe & Sons, a specialist firm in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. The finished black and ecru yarns were woven at Tonedale Mill in Wellington, Somerset, the home of Fox Brothers, which has been in business since 1772.
Somerset and neighbouring Gloucestershire were once important textile counties, producing what were known as West of England qualities. The most significant of these was flannel, a classic cloth recognised by its slightly brushed surface, which results in a lovely touch or “handle”, as well as improving its properties of keeping the wearer warm.
In 2009, Fox Brothers was acquired by Dragons’ Den investor Deborah Meaden and Douglas Cordeaux, the mill’s CEO, who have been busy returning the business to its position of influence.
For the styling, Jigsaw’s design team was inspired by the easy elegance of the 1920s and 1930s. Beautifully made in Portugal, the coat is half-lined, a finish that is more difficult and more expensive to execute than a full lining, but is more appropriate to modern lifestyles and our generally milder autumn and winter. Natural horn buttons have been used to underline the classy nature of this fabulous garment.
To avoid the restrictive nature of some overcoats, this glen check version has been cut ever-so-slightly oversized to create a more relaxed feel.
It also means there is a little bit more of the superb Fox Brothers flannel cloth to appreciate.
By Eric Musgrave