DEEP DIVE - FOWL VEST
Welcome back to "DEEP DIVE," where we look into the inspiration behind some of our favorite Engineered Garments pieces. In this installation, we are featuring the "Fowl Vest," a lightweight hunting vest.
Hunting has long been a recreational activity, dating back to the days of Assyrian kings who hunted lions from their chariots. It was an activity reserved for men of noble status who hunted on their own estates for hundreds of years. England considered all game animals property of the Crown and treated those without noble status who hunted as poachers subject to severe punishment. Hunting was a stylized pastime for the aristocracy, a way to bond and military training. It was no longer a right but a privilege and an indicator of one's class.
Traditional English hunting garb reflects this attitude. During the 17th and 18th centuries, English sport hunters wore colorful, ornately embroidered, and bright waistcoats and breeches. During the Victorian and Edwardian eras, they donned boldly checked tweed Norfolk jackets, flannel trousers, Shepherd-checked suits, and herringbone blazers.
When European settlers came to North America, they brought their hunting tradition but quickly eschewed its strict association with class division. The continent's bevy of game - wild turkey, deer, and moose - made it accessible to everyone. The sport quickly became a permanent facet of the nation's culture. The fascination around America's most beloved folk figures - Daniel Boone, Davy Crocket, and Buffalo Bill - centered around big game exploits.
While many Americans used old clothing when hunting, Jesse Bird, Harry Kenyon, and Albert Jones spotted a demand for specialized clothing at the beginning of the 20th century, marketed under the name Duxbak (as lousy weather would roll off the clothes like water off a duck's back), they produced some of the first canvas clothing, including some of the first "hunting jackets" - made from heavy canvas with a corduroy collar.
Duck canvas - a heavy, plain woven cotton textile - became the de facto fabric of hunting clothing. Prioritizing function over form, garments made from duck canvas weren't as elegant as classical English hunting dress, but their durability and functional pocket arrays made them much more helpful. In the following decades, American brands like Orvis, Woolrich, Filson, L.L. Bean, Blue Bill, and Hettrick's made canvas hunting clothing, giving birth to a new American style.
For the Engineered Garments Fowl Vest, designer Daiki Suzuki sourced inspiration from mid-century American hunting vests. As the name suggests, this design comes from a vest used for bird shooting. The original version is made from 10 oz duck canvas and features three game pockets for storing captured quarry. The Engineered Garments version retains these details: the large pocket on the back, the loop near the neck, and the single button closure. Daiki adds a unique string closure system to the garment's front in a playful touch.
The design has been in the Engineered Garments repertoire for years. Daiki tinkered with the vest's proportions for years before settling on the current balanced makeup, fitting neatly with the Engineered Garments ethos of dark but light, and quiet but loud. Despite its minimal construction, the design is striking - and the 3-D pockets allow for a dramatic look when worn over a shirt while being compact enough to underneath a sportcoat (Daiki's preferred styling choice).
The Fowl Vest is available in the following fabrics:
Black 6.5 oz Flat Twill
Natural 6.5 oz Flat Twill
Navy 6.5 oz Flat Twill
Olive Camo 6.5 oz Flat Twill
Navy / Grey LC Stripe
Olive CP Weather Poplin
Available in-store and online at nepenthesny.com