It gets to this time of year and if I am due to be in London, after nearly fifteen years of blood thinning that seems consistent with a move to sunnier climes, I have an arm wrestle with the hungry moths who gather expectantly around my Loden overcoat.
I bought my Loden overcoat at Galeries Lafayette’s stunning store on Boulevard Haussmann (75009 Paris) in 1982 for, I recall £90 (or then 900FF). It is simply the most beautiful and hard wearing garment that I have ever owned. It’s as close to a waterproof, coat-shaped blanket as you’ll find. With leather cuffs, an unstructured body and fitted shoulders these coats were designed for deep Austrian winters and, naturally, can cope very well with a paltry 5 degrees in London. Bring it on!
But what is Loden? Rather unappetisingly, the name “Loden” derives from Old High German ‘lodo’, meaning that ‘coarse cloth’ – which, I can assure you, the modern variant is far from.
It has its origins in the Tyroll and is thought to have been produced, originally, by Austrian peasants. Its thick, water-resistant and short pile comes from the coarse, oily wool of mountain sheep.
Loden fabric comprises strong yarns that are loosely woven into cloth which then is subjected to a process of shrinking that eventually gives it a felt type appearance and it becomes quite dense. It is then extensively brushed and clipped by a repeated process that results in a supple, windproof and extremely durable material that is similar to wooden “melton” and “duffle” as used in duffle coats – another favourite – please see our earlier post – https://aestheticons.wordpress.com/2016/11/15/duffle-coat/
Loden coats are traditionally available in two colours navy – as mine which is still available from Steinbock’s in Innsbruck (Austria) – and olive green although other variations including grey and camel, are available. Cordings in Piccadilly also have a stock and usually a New Year’s sale.
Image by Models Own