INTO THE ARCHIVE

Words L.Cloudsdale Images D.Watson

INTO THE ARCHIVE

Words L.Cloudsdale Images D.Watson

You’ll often find Mike Stoll deftly flicking through precious military surplus, tailored drape coats or vintage flight jackets in the depths of the Private White V.C. archive. A menswear oracle, he’s the longest serving member of our team and has spent his entire career making the finest outerwear for home-grown clothing brands (and some very well-known international heavyweights) right here on the outskirts of Manchester. If there’s anyone in the U.K. who understands the importance of a well-proportioned pocket, the perfect collar depth or an expertly cut raglan sleeve, then it’s our very own ‘Stolly’. Over the decades, he’s been fastidiously preserving, labelling and storing every garment he’s ever had the pleasure of working on, resulting in what we believe to be Manchester’s finest collection of post-war jackets and coats. With so much fashion folklore at our fingertips, we thought it was a great excuse to select some of our favourite pieces and ask Stolly to talk us through the details. In the first of an ongoing series, we’d like to introduce what is lovingly referred to as ‘the Ellis Brigham’.

 

Amongst hundreds of items on the rails here in the Private White V.C. archive, you’ve chosen to kick-off the series with a personal item from your youth. Most teenagers are quite fickle when it comes to trends and clothing, what made you hold onto it?

There are lots of reasons why I’ve kept this jacket for nearly fifty years – some are sentimental, but mainly it’s because it’s such a classic example of the brilliance of Ventile. I first wore it in the early 1970s on a family holiday to the Lake District with my parents; all three of us were in matching Ellis Brighams! It was around the time that ‘regular’ people had started taking trips to climb Mount Everest, and needed outwear that was windproof and waterproof. Ellis Brigham were specialists, making garments (and tents) in Manchester that were very advanced at the time. In today’s money, this would have cost upwards of £1,000.

It’s made from a double-layer of Ventile using a technique called ‘bagging out’. Essentially, it’s two complete jackets stitched together, but slightly off-set, so wherever you’ve got a seam on the right side, the inside seam will be positioned slightly to the left or right of it. This was so that if water gets through an external seam it hits more Ventile rather than soaking through to the clothing underneath. This was long before manufacturers had invented ways to seam-seal, which is the method more commonly used today.

What aspects of the design still resonate with you today?

Every little detail has been carefully considered. Inside the cuffs there’s a strip of fleece to give you that little bit more comfort, something soft and warm for when the weather takes a turn for the worse. There are envelope pockets too, which stop things falling out, even if you’re busy hiking and forget to close them – they keep everything inside safe and secure.

The fabulous nickel zip (with cotton tape) is still in great working order, and running alongside it you’ve got these superb, solid snaps that have stood the test of time. Inside there’s a drawstring waist to cinch-in when it gets really cold, which helps to trap air in the section around your chest for extra warmth. The smock-type hood was well ahead of its time, coming right up round the chin – but it’s something you see everywhere these days, probably because this sort of jacket became popular on the football terraces, even though the design was from a climbing heritage.

Nearly half a century old and this jacket still looks contemporary. Why?

Men don’t change. They want straightforward, stylish, practical things that last. A hood for when it’s pouring down outside, big, roomy pockets on the outside and well-placed ones on the inside. Ideally, you spend your hard-earned money on things that age well and continue to look nice. Even after all those years of wash and wear, to me, it still looks beautiful.

You’ll often find Mike Stoll deftly flicking through precious military surplus, tailored drape coats or vintage flight jackets in the depths of the Private White V.C. archive. A menswear oracle, he’s the longest serving member of our team and has spent his entire career making the finest outerwear for home-grown clothing brands (and some very well-known international heavyweights) right here on the outskirts of Manchester. If there’s anyone in the U.K. who understands the importance of a well-proportioned pocket, the perfect collar depth or an expertly cut raglan sleeve, then it’s our very own ‘Stolly’. Over the decades, he’s been fastidiously preserving, labelling and storing every garment he’s ever had the pleasure of working on, resulting in what we believe to be Manchester’s finest collection of post-war jackets and coats. With so much fashion folklore at our fingertips, we thought it was a great excuse to select some of our favourite pieces and ask Stolly to talk us through the details. In the first of an ongoing series, we’d like to introduce what is lovingly referred to as ‘the Ellis Brigham’.

Amongst hundreds of items on the rails here in the Private White V.C. archive, you’ve chosen to kick-off the series with a personal item from your youth. Most teenagers are quite fickle when it comes to trends and clothing, what made you hold onto it?

There are lots of reasons why I’ve kept this jacket for nearly fifty years – some are sentimental, but mainly it’s because it’s such a classic example of the brilliance of Ventile. I first wore it in the early 1970s on a family holiday to the Lake District with my parents; all three of us were in matching Ellis Brighams! It was around the time that ‘regular’ people had started taking trips to climb Mount Everest, and needed outwear that was windproof and waterproof. Ellis Brigham were specialists, making garments (and tents) in Manchester that were very advanced at the time. In today’s money, this would have cost upwards of £1,000.

It’s made from a double-layer of Ventile using a technique called ‘bagging out’. Essentially, it’s two complete jackets stitched together, but slightly off-set, so wherever you’ve got a seam on the right side, the inside seam will be positioned slightly to the left or right of it. This was so that if water gets through an external seam it hits more Ventile rather than soaking through to the clothing underneath. This was long before manufacturers had invented ways to seam-seal, which is the method more commonly used today.

What aspects of the design still resonate with you today?

Every little detail has been carefully considered. Inside the cuffs there’s a strip of fleece to give you that little bit more comfort, something soft and warm for when the weather takes a turn for the worse. There are envelope pockets too, which stop things falling out, even if you’re busy hiking and forget to close them – they keep everything inside safe and secure.

The fabulous nickel zip (with cotton tape) is still in great working order, and running alongside it you’ve got these superb, solid snaps that have stood the test of time. Inside there’s a drawstring waist to cinch-in when it gets really cold, which helps to trap air in the section around your chest for extra warmth. The smock-type hood was well ahead of its time, coming right up round the chin – but it’s something you see everywhere these days, probably because this sort of jacket became popular on the football terraces, even though the design was from a climbing heritage.

Nearly half a century old and this jacket still looks contemporary. Why?

Men don’t change. They want straightforward, stylish, practical things that last. A hood for when it’s pouring down outside, big, roomy pockets on the outside and well-placed ones on the inside. Ideally, you spend your hard-earned money on things that age well and continue to look nice. Even after all those years of wash and wear, to me, it still looks beautiful.

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