The coat: exploring the relationships we form with the clothes that shape our identity.

“My Dad died 5 years ago and left me a few quid, instead of paying my debts off and doing something sensible with it, I spent it on clothes and bought this coat. He was into clothes, so I think he would approve. The first jacket I coveted belonged to my Dad – a trucker style, mustard cord Lee jacket. He was quite small and when I was 10, he gave me the jacket because we were the same size. It’s come full circle; this coat is like the last present from him. 

This coat is Nigel Cabourn x Eddie Bauer Kara Coram collab. Cabourn is a genius, not super commercial and doing what he does because he loves it – you can tell this when you wear his clothes – everything is perfect. I love camouflage. When I was a kid, I wanted to be in the army. My relatives had been in the war and I had a chiropodist when I was 7 who had been a Desert Rat – he would tell me war stories whilst cutting my verruca’s off. I was going to join the Royal Marines until I saw the Falklands War on TV, a man on a stretcher with his leg blown off and I thought oh right it’s not all gung-ho, back home in time for tea and medals.

I’ve always collected stuff: toy figures as a kid, vinyl, trainers, clothes but I was always skint and couldn’t afford what I wanted. One of the reasons for setting up Proper in the late 90s was to blag free stuff. I don’t blag anymore. I appreciate everything I get sent. I remember feeling the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I received a jacket from Arktis, with a message on a post-it note that simply read ‘I hope you like this, the SAS do’ 

My obsession has deepened over the years – my son is named after Massimo Osti and I admit I omitted a high pitch squeal when I discovered a vintage Volvo overall with a Stone Island patch at Massimo’s archive. I have often thought why I have a chasm of neediness for outwear. But when I interviewed Alaine de Botton and asked him if he thought my obsession with clothes is trivial and vein and he said ‘not at all, clothing is human architecture and massively important’ I thought, right, I’ll take that” Neil @neilsummers_ co founder and editor of @propermag