Vulpine refer to the women’s British Cycling trenchcoat as the ‘finest women’s cycling garment in the world’ – it’s a lofty claim, but the tailored jacket does carry some pretty special features.
Designed to perfectly suit the drizzly British weather that we can only expect to enjoy until the very peak of summer, the British Cycling trenchcoat is created using British Millerain bonded showerproof fabric.
Available in 'dark navy' or 'stone', there are several cycling friendly details, including a clever reflective strip at the rear, an array of handy pockets and a cut that allows ease of pedalling.
The 'Made in Britain' mentality
Vulpine is a brand with a story. Founded by ex-film executive Nick Hussey, his priorities have always been firmly planted in creating clothing around a cornerstone of quality, with plenty of understated style and on-bike practicality in the mix.
Outlining the foray into British design, Hussey explains his original conundrum: “[When founding Vulpine] I knew I wanted to make it all in Britain... Except I couldn’t. British manufacturing is pretty stuffed. The main problem is that even if you fund the factory, there aren’t the skilled workers to place in it. Decades have passed since those skills were at a premium, and people move on, or even die. And with no factories to train a new generation, or that new generation to train the next, there is no manufacturing."
So – the bulk of the kit was made in Portugal, Italy, China and Sri Lanka – until an influential gentleman managed to change Hussey’s mind, leading him to create the new Made in Britain items. The range consists of three men’s and one women’s jacket – this very British Cycling Trenchcoat.
The fabrics used come from 1880 founded company, British Millerain, who are based at a factory in Lancashire, where they use techniques handed down over six generations. They’re the original creators of waxed cotton for outdoors wear, and are now a world leading specialist in the area. So for a brand wanting to utilise waxed cotton for waterproofing and breathability, they’re a pretty solid choice.
Just to be extra clear, Hussey did approach the ‘Brexit’ elephant in the room when these products were launched – noting: “I am a proud European and a proud Brit. I think of myself as both, and I was devastated when we voted OUT...Made in Britain is not a statement of independence, its a love letter to our skill, curiosity, tolerance and creativity, and is offered to anyone around the world who wishes to enjoy them with us."
So – we understand the ideologies behind this trenchcoat. Great. But ideologies don’t keep you warm or dry – so how does it perform?
The fabric and cut of the Vulpine Women's British Cycling Trenchcoat
In creating this jacket, Vulpine have come over all demure, but they’ve mixed that classic lady-like styling with some seriously sturdy fabric.
The outer is made from 100% cotton, which consists of two lightweight cotton twills layers, bonded together with a durable water repellant finish. This keeps the wearer dry in ‘British weather’ (otherwise known as incessant rain). Bonding the fabric means it performs well in the rain, without the need for a lining.
Dribbling water over the surface gives way to the beading you'd expect, and reinforced shoulders allow droplets to funnel their way down the jacket. A high collar can be stylishly folded down or hiked up for extra protection.
The inner fabric is comprised from a mix of polyester (67%) and cotton (33%). This creates a fast drying mix that allows for breathability below the somewhat heavy fabric. And the fabric is heavy – this isn’t a lightweight item.
The double-faced waxed cotton used feels sturdy and robust to the touch. Almost a little bit rigid, though I’d expect this item to last several years (a decade?) and that may wear off over time. It’s not tremendously warm, and requires a jumper beneath (merino, not cashmere, darling…) on winter days when the cold stings your ears. However –it is two things: waterproof, and breathable – showing Vulpine have kept the needs of practical cyclists at front of mind. Even when creating a garment that former fashion journalist Adele Mitchell calls a “cycle-friendly corker" that would “go hand in hand with a glamorous job in South Kensington."
In terms of fit – being a standard hourglass, I’ve spent my entire life arguing with my mum over whether I should ‘wear belts to show off my little waist’ (her) or ‘wear baggy tops that cover up my hips’ (me). The British Cycling trenchcoat will no doubt add armoury to my mum’s case, because I did feel every inch the lovely woman with the coat cinched in at the waist. This said, when I felt like going for a more relaxed exterior, I could undo it and chill out, hands planted in my pockets and swinging at my sides.
On the bike, the relatively short length and added room for movement created by the slit at the back make for easy pedalling, and with the buttons done up there’s not too much flappage of excess material.
Features of the Vulpine Women's British Cycling Trenchcoat
The key cycling specific feature has got to be the split at the rear, with its reflective fabric, lightly trimmed with pink. In the day time, this is subtle enough not to scream ‘I am a cyclist! Tell me you read the Daily Mail and that I’m farting self-importance with every pedal stroke!’, but come evening it’s an incredibly effective safety feature.
There are pockets in the normal ‘pocket place’, with easy snap closure, as well as a snap closure ‘smart phone pocket’ at the rear and one on the inside that’s been specially designed for a ticket but would also be great for debit cards and the such.
To butter up the fashionistas of the world, 'Corozo Nut' buttons have been used. I had to google these – and my only comment is that they work like buttons and do the job. The belt comes with a reassuringly heavy buckle, with a couple of metal loops added (a traditional feature, I'm told).
Finally, The inner is treated with, what is quite possibly, my favourite feature: a tartan layer that (though unseen by most) adds just a touch of extra care which made me feel proud to put it on, every time.
I have, however, saved the price till last. The original RRP on this jacket was £395 (you do pay for manufacturing in Britain...). However, it's now down to £197.50, with plenty of sizes still available.
Verdict on the Vulpine Women's British Cycling Trenchcoat
Vulpine have made a big step in seeking to achieve their goal of manufacturing in Britain - and their first women's item is a stunning creation that fashionistas will love.
For city cycling, the intended use, all the features are there to allow for comfortable rides - even in the rain. The only complication would have been finding that £400 - but now you'll just need to secure £200 from the bank down the side of the sofa.