Few brands stand the test of time like Woolrich. Championed as America's oldest outdoor apparel brand, Woolrich has remained at the epicenter of quintessential Americana style for almost two centuries, creating timeless garments that encapsulate an entire way of life.
Naturally, such heritage speaks volumes about Woolrich's ability to adapt, and this season is the perfect example of how it does so. For FW22, the brand is introducing the next chapter in its iconic Sierra Series, a capsule of four outwear pieces — the Sierra Supreme Jacket, Sierra Supreme Vest, Microfiber Sierra Parka, and the Sierra Supreme Printed Jacket. All of these pieces riff on classic Woolrich silhouettes that were first introduced many decades ago.
The standout piece in the new collection is the Sierra Supreme Printed Jacket. Naturally, the features are top of the range — it's built from water-resistant Ripstop fabric that's insulated with duck down and its pockets are lined with Polygiene ViralOff® technology, a treatment that reduces microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi) within two hours (which is an extremely welcome addition given the current climate).
Yet it's the design that playfully interacts with the setting in the clearest way; the ombre colorway speaks directly to the outdoors, inviting scenes of sunsets and winter landscapes. To fully appreciate this, Highsnobiety took the jacket for a spin in nature, pitting it against backdrops that inspired its design. Take a trip for yourself in the video below.
But in order to understand the cultural significance of the Sierra Series and why these jackets are universally admired, we need to go back to the beginning and learn a little about the history stitched into their seams.
200 Years Ago...
In the early 1800s, John Rich, the son of a wool weaver, made the epic journey from Liverpool, England to America where he used his knowledge of the wool industry to run a small wool factory in rural Pennsylvania. Eventually, he partnered with Daniel McCormick and, in 1830, founded the Woolrich brand.
The Woolrich mill operated in a micro-community off Pennsylvania's Plum Run stream and its surrounding mountainous areas were full of lumberjacks, huntsmen, and trappers. As the story goes, Rich would load up a mule cart with his quality woolen wears and travel to their lodges to sell his goods to the men and their families. Winters in the region were rough and Woolrich fabrics were exactly what folks needed to keep warm through the season.
Over the years, the Woolrich brand grew increasingly prestigious. It began supplying woolen blankets to the military during the American Civil War, producing workwear for railroad workers, and for American troops and civilians in the first and second world wars. Within this time, the Woolrich "Buffalo" black and red plaid also entered the picture and swiftly became synonymous with American workwear. The checkered pattern adorned vests, shirts, jackets, and caps, and is immediately identifiable today as Woolrich™.
When people say that Woolrich is literally woven into American history, they're not exaggerating.
The Sierra Style
The Sierra style entered the Woolrich world in the late 1960s — basically, it's the brand's version of an all-around, goes with everything, puffa jacket. But of course, its function was much more than that. By the early '70s, the style had become something of a cult classic, a symbol — as the garment names would suggest — of supreme quality to those in the know. In particular, the 1973 Supreme Sierra Jacket was the most popular backpacking jacket the brand offered at the time thanks to its bonkers spec range that essentially shadowed the rest of the market. The jacket's construction, down quality, and filling allowed the wearer to move in -35° temperatures and, the best part, it packed down into a pocket that then doubled as a pillow. Thoughtful features such as these have always been integral to the brand.
The Parka silhouette is another long-serving example of how Woolrich continues to cater to its community's needs. Around the same time that the secret pillow jacket was becoming a hit with backpackers, the Arctic Parka was also making its debut. The coat was specifically designed for construction workers on the Alaskan pipeline, where the daily maximum temperatures were, on average, an unimaginable -40 degrees below freezing. Everything about the coat was designed to meet the workers' requirements, enabling movement, and promoting warmth in extreme conditions — the latest Sierra Parka is an evolution of that landmark piece.
While of course, garments specifics have changed over time thanks to advancements in design technology and consumer demands (the fabric is now lighter and softer, for example) Woolrich's original mission statement stays as true as ever: creating premium garments that empower life in the elements. Every single item the brand has created, from the original Buffalo Check to the latest Sierra Series, is crafted with pure purpose in mind. The function has never been sacrificed for hype or trends.
For more information, head over to Woolrich.