The Return of the Sporting Gent

Options abound for the trend-setting sportsman

There is a movement taking place in the realm of sporting fashion. A rebirth so to speak. For too long now, many in our hunting fraternity have had a seemingly wear-whatever,  je ne sais quoi fashion sense in regard to the sport. From sweats to jeans and nearly everything in between, anything goes has been the style. This however seems to be changing.

Much of America is now smitten with the sporting life and trends of Europe. This Old World look has transcended from the shooting fields across the pond and has found its way into the mainstream of American culture. Of all things, it is the high-fashion designers and entertainment industry who is at the forefront of this movement and the catwalks have had an overload of tweed, leather patches and fur accents. The influence of the highly popular television show Downton Abbey is certainly prevalent in the fall collection for Ralph Lauren.  And Tommy Hilfiger's new Hunt Club campaign also has a touch of that Oxford English flair. But if it is true Bespoke tailoring you are after, look no further than the firms of Holland and Holland and Purdey. In addition to luxurious made-to-measures, these companies also have ready-to-wear articles.

Back stateside, Eddie Bauer is making a return to its sporting roots with hunting apparel from its new Sport Shop. Stylish form follows function in this new collection featuring featherweight jackets and vests, to fleece and waxed cotton. Born in the field, Eddie Bauer Sport Shop is the newest thinking in design, fit, fabrication, and construction. From the Original Outdoor Outfitter.

You can't talk clothing and the U.S. without mentioning the Orvis company. Orvis has established itself as the new Abercrombie & Fitch, in the context that A&F lost its compass when they abandoned their sporting heritage and resorted to using half-naked models in order to sell tee shirts and sweats to teeneyboppers. Orvis, however gets it, and has become the wish book catalog I look forward to this time each year. In addition to their own signature line, they carry everything from Le Chameau and Barbour to Beretta and Holland and Holland and in virtually every apparel category from belts and boots to ties and chaps.

Seldom can a company be as contemporary as it is classic, but Beretta manages to excel at each. Stylish and distinctive, the Vintage Years collection is the standard for the gentleman sportsman, yet the Active Mite and Active Cool lines are the picture perfect look for the modern hunter. From the shooting peg and stalking wood to a casual ride or even a night out, Beretta has a look for you.

For the sportswoman reading this, aside from Eddie Bauer and Beretta, whom I might add have really nice ladies line-ups, you have to check out the Really Wild Clothing Company. Waistcoats, jackets, breeks, trousers, jumpers, skirts, gloves, scarves, hats, socks and boots, they have it all, and it all is so chic. The Wild Life, indeed, and with elegant cuts in feminine colors and posh patterns, you are sure to set the trends from the town to the country.

One final inclusion. You most likely have never heard of Seeland International. I must admit I just recently happened upon them myself. But they are certainly worth taking a look at. Much of their offerings are from the Scandinavian brand Härkila, a company which prides itself on uniting tradition and technology. Of Seeland's new 220-page Shooting Catalogue there are nearly 170 pages of the most modish assortment of stylish hunting wear and accessories you are ever to come across.

There was a time when sportsmen really cared about how they presented themselves, ie. Nash Buckingham, Archibald Rutledge. We should have a reverence to our sport and dress ourselves accordingly. The public is impressionable, and when we take to the forest or field looking as if we just finished mowing the lawn or painting a house we imply that the activity in which we are about to partake is lacking in importance. However, within this audience viewing us lies the future of our sport. It is becoming more popular than ever to look like you just came from a hunt, and, it is the upscale version of the hunter which is taking hold. So how do we convert these posers and potential hunters to the fold? Well, it starts by being role models. We are the guardians and stewards of this land and should look the part. The grey flannel businessman appears successful, the three-piece broker – powerful, the clerical collared priest commands respect and the well dressed hunter looks a sportsman and a gentleman.

These distinguished gents were photographed at Southeast Georgia’s Cabin Bluff. To this day the lodge still offers some of the finest sporting opportunities and accommodations on the entire East Coast. 

These distinguished gents were photographed at Southeast Georgia’s Cabin Bluff. To this day the lodge still offers some of the finest sporting opportunities and accommodations on the entire East Coast. 

Sporting Wish List 2012

Grab your pilot glasses, bass plugs, and left hook, we're going Christmas shopping!

Accurate and dependable, Merkel has established itself as a name you can trust. With the introduction of the new take-down RX Helix rifle, form now follows function. The Helix has the look of an Old World beauty combined with the sleek lines we have come to expect from modern firearms. New innovations like a straight-pull bolt-action and a bolt head ratio of two-to-one places a premium on rapid-fire precision. This firearm is designed to be deadly accurate and lightning fast. It is available in three action lengths and 12 calibers. $4,000 (Photograph by Ron Spomer)

Ideas and inspiration are certain to take flight from the cockpit of Restoration Hardware's Aviator Wing Desk. Inspired by streamlined World War II fighter planes this desk is a shining swoop of metal. Its shape mimics the bent wing of a plane. Poised for take-off, it features a polished aluminum patchwork exterior accented with steel screws, built around a solid hardwood frame. $2,195

1. Have a cup of eggnog and kick back with a 1894 first edition copy of The Wild Beasts, Birds and Reptiles of the World and relive P.T. Barnum's account of his explorations and adventures while pursuing animals for both sport and his menagerie. $45-$200.       2. For around $1,300 the casual, yet elegant Invicta Pro Diver Chronograph Elemental Watch in wood & steel is half James Bond, half Bear Grylls.       3. Elegant styling makes the Swarovski Optik Leather Pocket Tyrol Binoculars perfect for any occasion from the opera to the Okavango. $969       4. Carry a Dave Hoover tackle box on your next fishing trip and trout will leap into the boat from respect. Okay, probably not, but he will be sure to be the envy of all of his fishing buddies. If you can find one that is. Dave has since retired and locating one of these gems can seem as elusive as catching a new world-record largemouth.  $400-$1100.       5. Even Old Tom Morris would've been smitten with the 61 Cirac Stand Golf Bag in King Croc by Belding Golf bags. Around $600.       6. A knife for all necessities, the Wenger Giant Swiss Army Knife V1.0 weighs in at 2 pounds with 87 implements and 141 functions. $1,000-1,600       7. Care to go a few rounds? If so the Seletti Boxitalia Punching Bag & Boxing Gloves are for you. Made from vintage-style brown leather, these professional-level training tools sport a classic design that will dress up any room from the penthouse office to the man cave. $110-$325.       8. The Beccaccia (woodcock) is a hunting jacket cool enough for James Dean. Waxed-cotton with front-loading game bag. $314

Left to right: Swing for the fences like they did back in the day with this 1880's style vintage bat. Hand-made of professional quality northern ash wood, this bat will go the distance. $139.95         In a small village at the foot of the Black Forest, a few dedicated master craftsmen have been using their talent and expertise to create the most beautiful crystal in the world. So nice to come home to, so nice by the fire, Queen Lace Crystal 18 oz. Double Old Fashion is perfect for the man of distinction. $250          Versatile Lemon Peel baseballs are as perfectly suited for stocking stuffers as they are for streetball, pepper and stickball. $34