As temperatures start to plummet all over the globe (they certainly are in our Berlin office), you might be on the hunt for some new outerwear. A lot of winter jackets out there are a little lacking in chic, so if you’re looking for something a little more stylish than what’s essentially a wearable sleeping bag, then you should consider adding some shearling to your wardrobe.
Sheepskin that’s been tanned and left with the wool still on, shearling has been used for thousands of years to beat freezing temperatures, and has been a trusty part of the menswear wardrobe for decades, too. Heavy, hard-wearing and guaranteed to keep you warm, shearling’s use in outerwear varies from trimmings (collars, linings, pockets and hoods) to full-blown furry extravaganzas that, if you’re not careful, might make you look like an extra from a ’70s porno.
The material is most classically seen on cropped, bomber-style aviator jackets, which were cemented as menswear classics after their use by World War II fighter pilots.
More recently, we’ve seen a resurgence in popularity for sheepskin. In the artwork for Views, Drake took the shearling mainstream, pouting as only he can while overlooking some freezing Toronto streets in a mega-shaggy, mega-cozy shearling number.
It’s not just your boy Drizzy who’s discovered a love for sheepskin. All the usual mega-celebrity tastemakers — Rihanna, Kanye etc. — have been spotted in sheepskin recently, and tons of designers are re-working the piece, too. Rather than the shaggy brown-and-beige ensembles that you’ll find lurking in the depths of thrift stores (or on the backs of pouting rappers), many labels are tinkering the garment to modern tastes, keeping the masculine silhouette and cozy fabric, but removing the ’70s kitsch factor.
Central to Kanye’s YEEZY Season 3 collection are shearlings in all sorts of shapes and sizes: elongated options with hoods, neon yellow bombers, mega-cropped women’s blousons, you name it.
Speaking of neon bombers, one of the wackiest (and most expensive) pieces from Supreme’s FW16 collection was a seizure-inducing lime green number made in collaboration with OG leather label Schott NYC.
Acne Studios has made the shearling an integral part of its collection for a while now, and its version comes in a sleek all-black colorway, with black leather taped across the seams.
It’s not hard to see why the jacket is enjoying such popularity at the moment. It’s butch as hell, with a big, oversized cut, boxy silhouette and all sorts of military-style buckles, belts and flaps. You can style it with pretty much anything, it looks dope on both guys and girls, and even low-cost versions look extra luxe and cozy.
If things are really, really cold, you can channel some extra-macho vibes by popping the collar and fastening it shut, as our man from Acne Studios is demonstrating above.
What’s more, the shearling fills a pretty big gap in the men’s wardrobe. Outerwear options are a bit limited when temperatures get really, really cold, and a lot of dedicated winter coats look more like sleeping bags than stylish classics.
As with all leather garments, particularly of the luxury variety, genuine shearling coats can reach well into the thousands of dollars, although these days, there’s tons of more affordable options made from cheaper, usually synthetic fabrics, courtesy of all the usual fast-fashion megastores.
Thanks to sheepskin’s popularity in the ’70s, there’s tons of furry outerwear pieces on the vintage market too, although they’re more likely to be at the used car dealer end of the style spectrum.
For more style tips, get familiar with the Chelsea boot.
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