BRANDS / SEASONAL SLANT ON A CLASSIC / FIELD JACKET / K-WAY
Photographs: William Osborne
K-WAY Manfield Enzyme Field Jacket
My love for a field jacket remains undiminished – I think I own one in virtually every standard issue hue, or in my mind I do. Coined the ‘M-65 field jacket’ it was widely used by the US military during the infamous Vietnam War helping to keep troops cool while serving in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam, while keeping them warm during the cooler conditions that came after monsoon rains.
Originally introduced in olive green shade 107, the jacket has metamorphosised over the decades in to a large variety of colours, patterns and weaves. Made almost exclusively by Alpha Industries for the military, it’s a humble jacket that has stepped-up with aplomb from utility to high fashion. The original design was characterised by two large hip pockets and two medium-sized breast pockets, with a concealed zipped-in hood. It had a detachable insulated lining for cold-weather wear and velcro fasteners on the sleeve cuffs and collar.
K-Way’s modern incarnation boasts many of these features (although not the insulated layer), including a natty tricolore emblazoned epaulette. Its imponderous attributes immediately endeared me – light enough to wear over a shirt or sweater in the summer as the nights cool off – its slim fit cuts a fine silhouette with a drawstring cord option than can be fastened to further flatter the waist. K-Way, whose name I first encountered in France back in the late 80s when they were one of a handful of sponsors of AS Monaco, were in fact established in Paris in 1965 by Leon Claude Duhamel. The brand gained notoriety initially for producing lightweight, nylon hooded pac-a-macs with vibrant zips that every French school kid had and hand-wrote their name on inside.
The pac-a-mac is still an integral part of the brands philosophy in 2015, and has manifested in to variety of playful interpretations and colour ways. But proving they’re not just a one trick cheval, this technical field jacket is a departure. Made of lightweight, fully water-proof enzyme washed nylon, the outer shell is both windproof and breathable – featuring 4 outer pockets and 1 inner pocket, concealed hood and heat sealed seams. The zip is trademark jazzy, but less so when buttoned up. The necessity of the logo could be contentious to the purist – if I was being picky I’d perhaps go a touch smaller.
Unusually for me, I’ve gone down the casual route on styling this up, and layered a Harry Stedman button-down shirt and grey marl sweater underneath. But a field jacket looks just as sharp worn over a jacket and tie as the cool kids at Eidos Napoli so eloquently illustrate. Even the master of style Nicolas Ricci of Italian brand Sciamat was spotted in a K-Way recently on Savile Row, so it must be cool. It’s nice to know a man of his standing is a fellow fan.
Watch out for more in an occasional series of 'Seasonal slants on a classic' on Sartorialee