[DEEP DIVE] CAGOULE SHIRT
Welcome back to "DEEP DIVE" where we take a look into the inspiration behind some of our favorite Engineered Garments pieces. In this installation, we are featuring the "Cagoule Shirt", a modified piece of wet-weather clothing that deftly combines classic rain gear with influences from military garb.
Inclement weather is a necessary point of consideration for anyone. More than just looking good, one’s clothing must stay warm and stay dry. The modern market is dominated by companies that use the latest technology to supply futuristic items and combat soggy conditions, and have established a number of devoted adherents. But what exactly constitutes ideal rain gear? This is a question that Engineered Garments designer Daiki Suzuki has thought about for decades.
During the 1980s Daiki worked in an American imported goods store in Shibuya, Tokyo, coming across American-made rain products manufactured by companies like Charles River Apparel. These rain parkas were made from rubberized cotton and colored in bright hues with oranges, yellows and greens - and were wildly popular at the time. Daiki pined for these products from afar, unable to afford one of his own with his meager income.
Upon receiving one as a gift from a friend, he noticed that the rubberized cotton was too heavy and not breathable. He couldn’t move around comfortably and ended up sweating inside the impermeable outer shell. The clothing looked good, but wearing it didn’t feel right. He asked his friends why they were so in love with the product, and they were unable to articulate a clear answer. It seemed that - like many of the Made in USA products he was selling at his store - people liked the products, but were unable to pinpoint what exactly made them so appealing.
Decades later, when Daiki sought to make his own rain parka, he began by choosing a silhouette, taking inspiration from the US Navy Gunner Smock. Issued during World War II, this popover design was made from heavy cotton, and provided to the gunner crews who manned gun turrets on the decks of US battleships. In the early 90, a few years after moving to New York, Daiki frequented the legendary downtown vintage megastore Canal Jean Co. and could still find piles of the pullovers, modestly priced at just $10 or $15.
Daiki was satisfied with the simple two pocket design with a functional hood, and made it the basis of his Cagoule Shirt. The item itself is quite roomy - as most pullover garments tend to be, allowing for it to be taken off easily while keeping some extra space for layering. A distinctly Engineered Garments touch is found with the placement of 3 cat-eye buttons under the chin, and one apiece for the flaps of the front pockets. The drawcord at the bottom is yet another one of Daiki’s flourishes, creating an opportunity to cinch, blouse, or even leave it to dangle - the drawcord has an element of inherent stylishness, a thoughtful detail made for the thoughtful individual.
Like many items in the Engineered Garments catalog, the Cagoule Shirt undergoes constant experimentation, with Daiki tinkering and making adjustments here and there over the seasons. Initially made without side pockets, Daiki eventually relented and included these after years of customer feedback.
Daiki’s love for natural and basic fabrics lies very near to the center of the Engineered Garments philosophy, and at the heart of the Cagoule Shirt is the fabric it is made from. Although it is a rain garment, the Cagoule Shirt does not use vulcanized cotton, vinyl, or any other hi-tech material. Material choice is deliberate, and includes a handful of synthetic fibres like nylon and polyester, as well as natural cotton and wool. For the Spring Summer 2022, the Nylon Micro Ripstop is a standout as this water-resistant fabric is super lightweight and still breathable - well suited for rainy days.
Ultimately, what makes something ideal as rain gear is decided by the individual. The Cagoule Shirt offers an uncommon answer - something that is simple on the surface but filled with complexity underneath. And after so many years, sometimes the subtle choice is best - even when it comes to staying dry.
The Cagoule Shirt is available in the following fabrics:
- Olive Nylon Micro Ripstop
- Black Nylon Micro Ripstop
- Grey Nylon Micro Ripstop
- Multi Color Cotton Ikat
Available in-store and online at nepenthesny.com