#21: Alex Rakestraw
Coatchecking's Alex Rakestraw on Patagonia’s WornWear, Hiroshi Nozawa's Norbit, Media for your Jacketing Pleasure, and more
Cool people like cool things, which is why we asked cool person Alex Rakestraw to come on Perfectly Imperfect & spread the hot rec wealth.
Alex knows more about outerwear than anyone I know & lucky for you he’s here to dish out some killer jacket recs to impulse buy as it starts to cool down. He’s been rec-ing gorpy garms on his blog, Coatchecking, since last January and has 30 reviews under his belt. If you live in the city & want to find that perf jacket that not only looks cool but will keep you warm n’ dry— head on over to his blog!
Without further ado
What’s good Perfectly Imperfect!!!
My name is Alex, and I’m a brand strategist slash writer based out of New York. I also take photos of coats for a niche-ass side project, @coatchecking. Outerwear is dope. That’s about it.
Since chilly szn is upon us, benevolent overlord Tyler B. has blessed me with the chance to spread outerwear wisdom through - what else? - slick recc’s. Here’s a shortlist of brands and products that are checkin’ boxes for me ATM.
🧥 For men: The North Face Brown Label Down Parka
TNF is a BFD in the outdoors space, but its real special sauce comes from translation. This checkered out, mohair-alike down parka mixes the brand’s heritage alpine DNA with the panache of retro suiting for a frickin’ 70s blow out. So much high-end outerwear is emotionless: black GORE shells, slick matte surfaces. This is the opposite. It’s a lumpy, textural oversized parka that just reads “warm.” If you’re on the Beatniks and Goreckis wave, this is your heater.
🧥 For women: Patagonia ReCrafted Down Jacket
Oh MAN is this the hidden gem of #clouterwear. Patagonia’s WornWear ReCrafted program has been serving up sustainable Frankensteins since this time last year, and the garms have only gotten better. While they’re technically unisex, the boxy fit and c-c-c-crazy colors make these tiny shirt/big pants compatible in a way that disappointingly few “cool” coats really are. If your WCW has a snap-front skirt, she needs like four of these.
Bonus: every jacket is handmade by LA’s Suay Sew Shop, a woman-led ethical production shop fighting for garment workers’ rights. Follow them on IG. They’re doing great stuff and making cool clothes to boot.
🧥 For cyborg ninja weebs: Tilak Odin Jacket
Czech outerwear label Tilak is the hidden gem of superlative shells. Everyone knows Arc’teryx. Some know Norrona. But Tilak flies under the radar. While I love their GORE Pro power armor the Raptor MiG, the brand’s Odin Jacket is my reco for an all-season #techwear jacket. The Odin is made from treated Ventile cotton, a tech that dates back to WWII-era flight suits made to keep downed pilots alive at sea. On this jacket, it keeps you dry and comfortable without the clammy (#clammgod) feeling of a giant membrane. It also looks fucking badass and is only like $300, which is a steal for such a quality piece.
🧥 New brand: Norbit by Hiroshi Nozawa
Japan’s Hiroshi Nozawa is a nature-loving design savant who made his name cuttin’ clothes for such tiny, unheard-of brands as uhhh Snow Peak, Fjallraven, and Columbia. He’s since hung out his own shingle with Norbit, a line designed around notions of “hybridity,” aka, garments that fit both outdoors and urban contexts. I interviewed him for last spring’s edition of eyeC (linky) and was so impressed by the craft that goes into every Norbit garm. Follow them on IG, then save thine pennies to cop pure rockstar shit like the brand’s overdetailed Field Jacket.
🧥 Old brand: Nanga
There’s a ton of great heritage down shops operating out of JPN these days, but despite that one picture of that dude on a bike (you know the one), I’m team Nanga. Founded in 1941, they’ve consistently turned out gorgeous product that’s light down and little else. Stockists are relatively rare in the West, so if their take on wispy ripstop and 750 fill suits you, peep either their web store or Rakuten.jp to cop.
🧥 Old brand but new again: Holden Outerwear
In the late ‘90s, there were two choices for cool snowgear: Errolson’s Burton [ak] kits, or Mikey’s Holden. The brand (founded by pro boarder Mikey LeBlanc) got red hot in the ‘00s but faded out before a recent revival. I saw their FW20 collection in Denver last January and fell in love. There is legit functional ski gear that’s one degree of Visvim mixed with casual jackets that look like Veilance meets Yves Salomon. It’s a fresh perspective if there ever was one, and one of my favorite brands of this moment. Check ‘em out.
❗: And finally, for your jacketing pleasure:
A short selection of the best contemporary media to stan #outerwear.
Inception: The entire snow scene is #techwear inspo.
Moonrise Kingdom: All aboard the Todd x Bean train!
Meru: Performance wear being used for actual performance. Wild movie and incredibly compelling.
Bundle Up by The Cool Kids: A rap about cold-weather layering ft. the legend Sir Michael Rocks. Please know how much this means to me.
I’m Down by The Beastie Boys: That’s the show!
Check out the blog here