This past September, Filson released a capsule collection with British designer Nigel Cabourn at the helm. The CC Filson line was met with overwhelming hype and anticipation, causing initial runs of the collab pieces to sell out in days. Now, despite restocking, only a few select pieces can be found online. Two months ago I got my hands on the Work Cape Jacket in olive and have been putting it to daily use.
Neither Cabourn nor Filson have been featured extensively on Heddels, but both stand tall in the realm of heritage wear. Filson has been the hunter and outdoorsmen’s choice since 1897, and in Cabourn, Filson has an ideal collaborator. The Newcastle based designer has refined the utility of workwear and military garb into high fashion for over thirty years. He’s as big a fanatic of the mediums as you’ll find, with a personal archive of thousands of pieces of vintage gear. It was actually a vintage Filson jacket Cabourn found at a Japanese thrift store that catalyzed CC Filson’s designs.
While Filson’s Jackets are not cheap – ranging from $250-$600 dollars – that’s about a third of what one expects to pay for Nigel Cabourn’s mainline. His standard Cameraman Classic jacket, for example, sells for over $1300. The Work Cape Jacket, being a Filson product, sells at a premium Filson price of $745. That leads to the big question: is this a bargain for something Nigel Cabourn, overpriced for Filson, or something else entirely?
Like most Filson products, the Work Cape Jacket is made of wool and waxed canvas. The Seattle wool weighs in at 18oz., while the waxed canvas comes in around 16oz. Since the yoke and arms are both double layered, they are essentially 32oz. The result is a jacket with a very comforting heft to it.
The wool has held up well over two months of wear. Its soft hand had little itch when new, and now has none to speak of. And despite rough treatment, it has shown little wear. I have yet to see any lint balls or pilling anywhere–a personal pet peeve.
The waxed canvas is just as wonderful a fabric. Despite starting off very oily, it has developed into more of a moist, leathery feel and begun to develop a nice patina and a pull-up at the creases.
Anyone seeking similar evolutionary qualities to raw denim should give waxed cotton a try at least once–it’s rugged and loves to get beat up. On top of that, it remains a very effective weather proofing; I have stayed dry through all manners of rain and snow so far.
To say it runs big is an understatement. I tend to wear an XL or XXL in most brands, but I ordered a large in this coat. The chest is arguably 1.5″ to 5″ larger than you’ll find on the interior of other brand’s coats. And because of the stiff waxed cotton and straight-down silhouette, it continues to fit loose around the mid-section.
If I didn’t care about layering, I could have sized down to a medium. I’ve worn this with a t-shirt in sunny, high 50s with nice breathability as well as windy, 15 degree weather with an insulated shirt jacket, that’s a very wide temperature range. The jacket’s full fit also allows for a full range of movement.
Those familiar with Filson expect their products to be solidly constructed and made to last. The Work Cape Jacket certainly fits the bill, being based off the classic Cruiser jacket style. The Cape Coat runs about hip length and a has six button front closure. There are four front pockets, two patch pockets, and a dual-access rear map pocket. Seams are primarily felled and everything feels and looks solidly stitched.
Cabourn’s influence is subtle but effective. The most obvious change is the dynamic color profile. The dark green wool accents along the waist, sides and wrist contrast nicely against the graphite and army green waxed canvas. The change in canvas color, along with the asymmetric pockets creates noise without seeming too busy. Meanwhile, the beige corduroy collar–which also adds comfort and warmth–firmly stands out from the rest of the garment.
Next up is the closure. While the bottom three buttons are military grade melamine, the top two now brass fireman clips. These look very distinct, but take a second to adjust to using. Nothing feels flimsy, thankfully. How each item holds up over time remains to be seen, but it definitely looks promising.
The other major addition is a button-on waxed cotton and wool-lined hood. It gives greater utility and the lining is warm enough for use without a hat in freezing temperatures. The depth of the hood allows for just enough coverage without making it feel like my heads about to get lost down a rabbit hole. If you’re wanting to take the hood off for a spell, it will take some effort; the button holes are very stiff, which is nice for keeping the hood secure, but frustrating for the lazy.
The empirical sum of Cabourn’s efforts is truly a beautiful work and Filson’s team did a fine job in construction. An askew, inch and a half piece of stitching on the hood was the only spot in need of quality control. My appreciation for the craftsmanship has only grown as I’ve worn it more.
Unfortunately there are a few gripes. The interior pocket was lost in the redesign for lack of any real reason. I even keep double checking whether or not I’ve just missed its location! Also frustrating is the fact that, while the back is lined with wool, the rest of the jacket has no lining to be found.
This is primarily a problem on the arms. If you’re only wearing a t-shirt, the waxed canvas material is cold to the touch and requires getting used to. Alternatively, if you start to get warm in your jacket, the insulation of the waxed cotton can cause moisture to build up on the arms. An interior lining would have solved both of these issues, not to mention added comfort.
Perhaps the most awkward flaw is trying to use the bottom pockets as a place for my hands. While good for carrying everyday items, the pockets aren’t ergonomic. It would have been easy to put slash pockets behind the utility pockets, as so many other jackets have done in the past. Instead, your hand is brought up a little too high and all of your weight shifts towards your forearm.
I was very excited to receive this jacket and put it to use. After two/three months, my excitement of my initial purchase is now contentment, this will be a jacket I’ll use a long time (as it should, in this price range). It helps that Filson has a very good lifetime warranty program that will allow me to breathe new life into the jacket down the line. Considering the multi-faceted use of wool and waxed canvas, it’s probably a good idea to have Filson do any re-waxing themselves.
For current Filson fans, this and the rest of the C.C. Filson capsule should appeal as something more refined but just as hard wearing. Considering how Filson’s pricing has crept up in recent years, the premium isn’t quite as significant as it once was. For Nigel Cabourn veterans, the dilemma might be a little greater. Cabourn’s mainline items are made from higher grade materials, have more distinct designs and step it up a tier in terms of construction. Oftentimes when you’ve reached such high levels of quality, it becomes difficult to settle for anything less. Nevertheless, the Work Cape jacket should please anyone who buys it for its style, versatility and rugged construction.
The C.C. Filson Work Cape Jacket can be purchased at End Clothing for $745.