Survival of the Fittest
The shell of a jacket needs to withstand the elements, while the inside needs to keep the wearer warm without making them overheat. Wong noted a few materials ideal for inside lining, such as bonded microfleece because of its moisture-management properties, mesh lining for breathability and jersey lining for comfort. "We often pair the jersey lining with taffeta sleeves so the arms can easily slide in and out of the jacket," Wong added.
The lining is dictated by the material of the shell. According to Parker, cotton is not a great insulator, so the lining chosen for a cotton coat is particularly important. "In our cotton jackets, we often use either a nylon or brushed tricot lining backed with polyfill that is diamond quilted to prevent the filler from shifting," she said. "This helps to ensure all-over insulation for the life of the jacket." For performance wear that is not cotton, Parker suggested bonding linings to shells to make the jackets wind-resistant. "Bonded fabrics are lightweight and highly functional, protecting the wearer from the elements," she explained.
Warming Up in Style
After addressing strength and warmth, outerwear suppliers need to make sure their styles are aesthetically pleasing. "There is a fine balance between fashion and function that exists in coat design," said Parker. "The right formula starts with understanding how the jacket is going to be used." For active end-users, range of motion is integral to a functional and fashionable coat. "Through four-way stretch fabrics, functioning bi-swing backs and/or articulated elbow pleats, our customers look great while they experience easy and natural wear whether swinging a hammer … or skiing a black diamond run," said Parker. Wong added stand-alone collars and ribbed cuffs and waists as good examples of stylish additions.
Coloring the Coats
The fashionable amendments to coats are largely dictated by who is purchasing them. With this in mind, Wong offered ideas for coat wearers of all ages. For adults, she suggested a classic look. "A reputable company with many years in the business might prefer a classic style in a work-appropriate color," she said. "The neutral colors and understated design of [a classic] jacket paired with a logo decorated on the left chest will appeal to this market." Newer, youth-oriented companies are likely to choose more flashy styles. "A start-up company geared towards younger end-users might lean towards … a hooded pullover constructed of 100 percent SoftCool," said Wong. Brightly colored hoodies with features like a quarter zip, drawstring and cord locks and a kangaroo pocket in front are good for young end-users. "A logo can be placed across the front of the chest, or for a bit of an edge, on the back between the shoulder blades, right underneath the hood for a surprise, peek-a-boo effect," added Wong.