The Phitwell: a jacket for the modern man
Classic menswear is dominated by a few, longstanding items of clothing: the jacket, trousers and waistcoat, all at least 100 years old, and a few pieces from war and sport in the first half of the 20th century: the trench coat, the T-shirt, the polo shirt etc. Even specific types of jacket, such as the Norfolk or 6×2 double breasted, nearly all originate from this era.
This jacket is no exception. The only difference is that it was not invented by a military outfitter or a French tennis player. It was the brainchild of Savile Row tailor Tim Skinner.
The Phitwell is an ingenious variation on the pleated-back shooting jacket.
It is fairly standard for shooting jackets to have pleats on either side at the back, in order to allow greater movement when the wearer raises his gun to a take aim at an ascending pheasant. But in my experience the problem with these jackets is that a sufficiently deep pleat will not consistently return to its folded state. The solution offered by most tailors is to insert a length of elastic between the pleats on the inside of the jacket – but I have found that to be uncomfortable.
The Phitwell – trademarked by Savile Row tailors Dege & Skinner – incorporates elastic lacing down the middle of the lining in the back of the jacket. This spreads the tension in a way that a single piece of elastic cannot, and provides just enough pull to keep the pleats in shape, while retaining comfort.
It was invented by Michael Skinner’s father, Tim Skinner, in 1938, and later Michael registered the trademark. “The Phitwell is an outstanding shooting coat, with cleverly controlled pleats and sleeves cut to give the wearer maximum freedom of movement in the field, while simultaneously creating an elegant, well-fitted sports coat for après shooting,” says Michael.
His son, Managing Director William Skinner, adds: “To this day we find that the Phitwell is popular for shooting and outdoor country pursuits. But we also have a number of customers, particularly in the US, who choose the design for their regular attire, citing the comfort and ease of wear as their main reasons for choosing the unique design.”
In an age when men unfortunately spend a lot of time hunched over a keyboard, and often discard their suit jacket as a result, the Phitwell could be just the thing.