In an industry literally burning up in its own forward momentum, Paynter’s first run of limited edition chore coats sets out to slow things down.
Words by Will Halbert
This article originally appeared in The Essential Journal magazine, in August 2019.
As far as gauntlet-throws go, Paynter Jacket’s is a doozy: Take an iconic jacket, study it, deconstruct it, and learn from it. Take what you’ve learned and proceed to make the last version of that jacket that you will ever realistically need. Make the jacket on a small-batch basis, no less. And make it using only the best materials you can find, while you’re at it. And do all of this not as an established brand, but as a young couple just three months into a budding relationship. You know, just for good measure. It’s a simple premise, perhaps. Straightforward in initial concept but no doubt taxing in execution. Which leaves me wondering just how Paynter’s co-founders, Huw and Becky, make it all look so fun. Perhaps the answer lies in the couple’s natural chemistry, or maybe it's down to their shared passion for, and interest in, the garments they’re creating.
Their first run of jackets is a glowing testament to this chemistry and passion. Aptly labelled Batch No.1, this limited edition, cut-to-order jacket offers a fond callback to the classic French chore coats of yesteryear. Unlike those boxy, baggy, vintage store grail pieces (all invariably short of arm and wide of shoulder) the Paynter Jacket offers a fresh, tailored take on the classic; one that’s soft, substantial and made in short runs of just 300 pieces, three times a year. This is a conscious choice: ‘If we suddenly increased our numbers,’ explains Becky, ‘we’d be putting more pressure on our fabric mills who make our fabric bespoke, on our factory in Portugal, and on the wash house that garment-dyes our jackets.’
As such, the Paynter Jacket isn’t just a damn good example of what can be done with a more conscientious, more iterative approach to making, it’s also the physical, tactile culmination of the couple’s journey to find like-minded makers. The reverse bull denim - a hard-wearing but breathable fabric that’s responsible for the jacket’s ‘hard as nails, soft AF’ credentials - hails from Berto, Italy. It’s corozo buttons, hand-crafted here in the UK, are sourced from nuts grown in the rainforests of Ecuador. The one-off, limited edition label - tucked away inside the jacket - is the work of Massachusetts-based illustrator, Chris Delorenzo. And to top it off, the jackets themselves are put together, by hand, in a mountainside factory in the renowned maker town of Guimarães, Portugal.
In short, the first run of Paynter Jackets is as well-made as it is well-travelled. We’ll spare you the usual chichés, however: This is not an icon rediscovered or a classic redefined. This is a classic understood - stitch for stitch and cut for cut - from the ground up. ‘We’re detail and quality obsessed,’ says Becky, ‘we’d rather grow slowly and keep getting the product right.’
And that’s exactly what they’ve done. At the time of writing this, all 300 of the jackets that make up Batch No. 1 are now in the hands of their lucky owners (after having sold out in just 14 minutes). With Batch No. 2 scheduled for an October release, those looking to get in on the action would do well to sign up to their newsletter. As with the first run, Batch No. 2 promises to offer an all-new take on the chore coat, using different fabrics and featuring all-new label art from an as yet undisclosed illustrator. With an increasingly faceless fashion industry seemingly hell-bent on a race towards its own collapse, the couple behind Paynter’s small-batch, slow-step approach to things are offering a welcomed return to making clothes personal again.