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.