This vintage leather jacket was made in Toronto by either Score Sporting Goods of by its successor, Shields Sportswear. Without the label, it’s hard to say which incarnation of Harry and Lorne Shields’s company made it. The jacket has the interesting collar of this maker- a short rounded stand collar with a single-snap chinstrap. Most makers made the snap tab as an extension of the collar stand, rather than a second piece. The separate chinstrap is more of a holdover from 1930s leather jacket design. Side adjuster belts are another early style holdover found on this design. The elbows are reinforced with a second layer of leather. There are zip sleeves to keep wind and dust out when riding. Zippers are mismatched, with Canadian made Acme and Lightning zips on the pockets and sleeves respectively. The front zipper is a replacement, with a YKK tape and a vintage Talon slider. The lining is long since missing. The blue leather of this jacket sets it apart in a sea of black and brown leather jackets, as if the distinctive and rugged design wasn’t enough.
Chest (pit to pit): 22″ (doubled = 44″)
Shoulder to shoulder: 18″
Sleeve (shoulder to cuff): 24″
This vintage tailcoat was made in the 1930s by Finnish born Toronto based tailor A. Saarimaki. It has surgeons cuffs.
Shoulder to shoulder: 16-1/2″
This hat was made in Germany and sold by Henri Henri of Montreal, Canada. The raw edge brim with minimal flanging makes me think this hat was released in the wake of the release of Indiana Jones, when this style made a resurgence. The hat originally sold for $245.
Brim Width: 2-3/4″
Crown Height: 5-1/4″
Ribbon Width: 1-1/2″
Made from Hudson’s Bay point blankets, these striped coats are iconically Canadian. The blanket design was introduced in the late 1700s by the HBC, and the material was soon adapted into coats by fur traders. Point blanket coats remained popular in Canada, first as utilitarian garments, later as fashion. The true Hudson’s Bay blankets were made in England. Some were tailored for and sold by the Bay, others, while they bear the fabric tag showing they were made from Hudson’s Bay blankets, were made into coats by and were retailed by third party companies, as is the case with the red Maine Guide coat pictured below.
Right from the start, there were competitor companies with their own striped trade blankets, like Early’s Witney Point, Horn Brothers, Trapper Point, or Ayers. The list went on, each with their own variation on the basic striped scheme. Many of these also made their way into the production of coats and jackets. The classic 20th century point blanket coat is a double breasted, belted mackinaw style, though the fabric has been tailored into everything from a “perfecto” style motorcycle jacket to a pullover hoodie.
Examples from my collection
1950s Hudson’s Bay: The classic cut and colors. Interesting in that the orientation of the stripes is reversed from the usual
1960s Hudson’s Bay: Men’s shirt style. Also commonly seen in a women’s version.
c.1950s/1960s Mac Mor: Company founded in 1951, based out of North York, Ontario.
c. 1960s Gleneaton. Made of Ayers blanket. Milium insulated
1930s Hudson’s Bay. Very old one, with buttoned belt. Had buttons under collar for a hood
1940s Hudson’s Bay/ Maine Guide. Tailored by Maine Guide from HBC blanket
1960s Lakeland: Designed by Jeffrey Banks. 1949 union label. Same style blanket as the Buckskein, but reversed orientation
1950s Buck skein: Duffle coat style. “Thermalized” lining
The bold patterns and bright colors of these blanket coats put them squarely into the “love it or hate it” category of vintage menswear, and outside of their native Canadian habitat can seem a bit out of context. While they can seem a bit flashy by modern menswear standards, these coats came from a rugged outdoor tradition.
Photo from LIFE magazine photo archive
Men’s striped blanket coats are still available from a variety of makers, but they seem to have shied away from the traditional vibrant colors, opting instead for more subdued earth tones and shades of gray. While the Hudson’s Bay Company still retails their blankets (they now sell between $370 and $580), in an odd twist, their former competitors in the camp blanket market are now working with them. The material used in their current production blanket coats is made by Pendleton Woolen Mills. The blankets are distributed in the US by Woolrich Woolen Mills.
Current and recent offerings:
Whether vintage or modern, find your inner Canuck and give a blanket coat a chance.
I recently bought these two Montreal made D-Pocket motorcycle jackets. Both were made by different iterations of the same company, British Sportswear and British Cycle Leathers, which would later become Brimaco. It’s always interesting having similar pieces of vintage clothing like this at the same time to be able to do direct comparisons of fit and details.
The black jacket is a later model of the earlier silver one, which in turn draws heavy inspiration from the Harley Davidson Cycle Champ jacket.On to the comparisons.
Leather color aside, while the two jackets follow the same pattern, there are a number of differences between them. Some of these are due simply to the date of manufacture and the hardware which was readily available at that point. Others are subtle, yet distinct, changes in the pattern.
The design of the d-pocket changed, growing in size, with less tapered ends. The two pockets lost their clipped corners and single stitching replaced double. Hardware changed, with different patterns of Lightning zippers used from one to the next, and different belt buckles and studs, but that has more to do with availability than design. The belt on the newer jacket is backed in cloth, while on the silver jacket it has a backing of black leather. The belt buckles are inset in different ways from one to the next, with triangular reinforcement stitching on the black one. Epaulettes are false on the silver jacket, stitched to the shoulder. They are more conventional and snap down on the black one. The silver jacket has open cuffs that zip closed and have a snap tab at the end of the cuff. The black jacket also has zipped cuffs, but the leather of the sleeve is continuous and the zippers are there for adjustment of the sleeve diameter. The lining pattern is different one to the next, as is the collar shape
Waist: 18″ (doubled = 36″)
The black leather jacket epitomized by the Schott Perfecto wasn’t always the motorcycle jacket default. Here is a small sample of diagonal zip leather jackets, ancestors of the style, which date from the 1930s-1960s. Top to bottom: Monarch, no label capeskin, Foster Sportswear, British Sportswear, no label Columbia. The silver British Sportswear jackets has exposed studs on the lapels, but none on the collar. The Columbia has concealed studs on both. The top three have none. They display a variety of pocket styles and placements, and of cuff styles.