This season, one phrase that you should never utter goes as follows:
“I’m wearing Persian Lamb.”
To utter it would be akin to saying “see my lovely shearling collar? It’s made from the skin of newborn lambs.” Lambs, in the plural. And by lambs I potentially mean unborn lambs. Or guaranteeably no older than 3 day old lambs. It won’t just be PETA that hates you for it – this is the sartorial equivalent of dressing in the hope of never getting laid again, or perhaps yourself being mulesed. Lambs are universally found to be cute and adorable, people fawn over them even if a lamb’s dawn bleets are amongst the most annoying sounds on Earth.
Shearling is back amongst men’s winter 2012 fashion, and Persian Lamb is amongst the trend’s elements. Wear shearling if you like, and after the break we’ll show you just how to do that, but if you venture into the realm of something that remotely resembles Persian Lamb refer to it just as “shearling”, your “nice wool collar” or pray for the opportunity to mutter “faux” under your breath.
Men’s shearling: the looks to wear it with
As with most recent seasons, men’s shearling is an on-trend element this autumn / winter. It’s a detail. It’s always a statement and sometimes even something functional as it prevents the blistering winter wind from causing permanent chill damage to your neck. And because it’s a fashion trend gradually evolving across different seasons, you’re going to encounter it on jackets and coats in a way that feels immediately familiar. Not familiar in a way that makes shearling feel done and dusted, but more so in the sense that what you’re looking at doesn’t bring anything new to the equation.
Take the use of shearling in Gucci’s men’s collection as an example. Beautifully coloured, each piece is dark without being black. The shearling is sumptious but remains as trim. Each coat or jacket would be warmly welcomed in any guy’s wardrobe. And yet none are going to set the world on fire.
If that’s a limitation of shearling, if shearling is now the equivalent of an on-trend, trusty old friend, how do you make it a statement this year?
Men’s shearling: the looks that accompany it
By pairing it with the this winter’s other statements. By using it as a detail to heighten another seasonal look.
Shearling bomber jackets.
Whether made with an air of minimalism or a sumptious texture, men’s bomber jackets have replaced the cropped parka as the casual jacket statement to make. Shearling and bomber jackets go hand in hand.
Here you have options aplenty, ranging from the neutral tones of Hermes to the shine of Costume National and Christian Lacroix to Dior Homme’s army infused bomber jacket.
Extending shearling beyond aviation
Yes, bomber jackets are an aviation look. But while our love affair with men’s military fashion has receded to be little more than a colour choice, the aviation inspired interpretation of the look never quite became ubiquitious for men. And so it has remained and extends the aviator look beyond leather bombers. For a marrying of aviation with shearling, you can’t look past Ermenegildo Zegna’s classicist interpretation of the two looks.
Shearling with the blues and blacks
It’s fair to say that winter wardrobes are often laden with blacks; very dark blues replace them this season, however. And it’s here that you might encounter the aforementioned Persian Lamb whose black curls compliment the midnight blues of this trend. There are alternatives (aren’t there always in fashion?) and you’ll find the likes of Dries Van Noten using dyed shearling as an alternative.
Shearling and animal prints
It autumn 2011 was all about tribal prints, then we’d be amiss not to mention the prevelance of animal prints amongst autumn 2012′s collections. Here shearling comes full circle with a natural pelt cut complimenting animal prints from the likes of Dior Homme.
Burberry are amongst the largest proponents of shearling – military is Burberry’s thing and the military have long taken advantage of shearling’s natural properties. So it comes as no surprise to see Burberry Prorsum utilise shearling alongside their interpretation of this season’s cropped jacket over suit trend. Something of a cropped bomber jacket, here Prorsum have styled black shearling against a casual charcoal.
You only get what you pay for
It’s likely that you’ll encounter a lot of shearling amongst the shops you’ll frequent for your winter wardrobe. You’ll see the real and you’ll see the imitation, the latter being predominant amongst fast-fashion retailers.
There’s nothing wrong with imitation shearling per se. But the quality has to be apparent. While we’ll always turn our noses at fake watches and handbags, fake furs and fake shearling don’t attract the same scorn. Sometimes they even wear better. But they have to be quality imitations.