Apparel That Will Remind You of Life Before 2020
When old men's apparel is new again
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In recent years, the sneaker industry has popularized bringing back old designs people used to love and still want to wear. The majority of companies in the outdoor segment have been doing this of late, too, and are now catching up to the trend. They’ve been combing their archives for the most popular jackets, shoes, fabrics, and colors they made 10, 20, or even 50 years ago and reproducing them for a modern audience. Some companies have truly embraced the retro aesthetic. Here are six of my favorites.
The North Face 1996 Retro Nuptse Jacket ($250)
Originally designed for mountaineers who needed a shorter down jacket they could wear with a harness, the Nuptse has long been a throwback favorite. Hip-hop artists made it popular in New York City in the 1990s, and you still find it everywhere. I use the jacket because it’s damn warm, thanks to giant baffles filled with 700-fill, responsibly sourced down. I don’t take it skiing—it’s too big to pack in a bag—but it’s perfect for bitter days around town or for spring car camping when temperatures fall at night.
Wellen Printed Short Sleeve Shirt ($37)
Worn in Hawaii in the 1920s, and first mass-produced in the thirties, floral shirts really took off after World War II as U.S. servicemen brought them back to the mainland. Since then they’ve become a popular summer fashion statement. For some people, they’ve also become a favorite piece for climbing, riding, and hiking. I like this one from Wellen because it’s appropriate for work and because the 100 percent cotton build has a great feel on my skin, even when I’m sweating.
Rhodes Footwear Huxley Boot ($220)
The Chelsea boot has nearly 200 years of history. First designed by Queen Victoria’s bootmaker in the 1800s, it became popular in London and was famously worn by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. There are lots of different kinds, and this one from Rhodes is a little less dressy than what the rock and rollers liked. It’s a boot I’ve worn with everything from a beat-up pair of jeans to a nice slacks out at dinner. My favorite part: the more it gets used, the better it looks.
Wellen Dawn Patrol Fleece ($70)
A shaggy fleece is one of the most iconic pieces of outdoor gear. All the big brands, from the North Face to Patagonia, made one and have since brought them back. I’m a fan of this one from Wellen because of the simple design and muted color. Made from a dead stock fabric, which means it’s no longer produced and would otherwise end up in the landfill, this jacket has been warm enough to ski in but is also perfect for spring walks around the neighborhood.
Flint and Tinder Stretch Selvage Jeans—Slim ($148)
Selvage denim is manufactured on a shuttle loom, making it denser and higher quality than other jean fabric. The style was made famous over 100 years ago by the Cone Mills company of North Carolina, and it’s had a resurgence in recent decades, partly thanks to a Japanese obsession with the material. This pair from Flint and Tinder is not only ultra durable but also insanely comfy due to its built-in stretch. I’ve biked, hiked, and worked in these pants, and like the aforementioned Chelsea boot, they look better with wear.
Filson Dryden Ballistic Nylon Backpack ($225)
The materials this pack are constructed with are what makes it a throwback. Built from 1,000-denier nylon, and hung with a leather handle and leather zipper pulls, the Dryden carries on the ruggedness of classic Filson products, which were originally built for gold miners headed to the Yukon in the late 1800s. The bombproof design comes at a cost but will last for decades. I’m a fan of the old-school green colorway, but I also like the modern amenities, like a padded pocket for a 15-inch laptop and drop-in sleeves for my water bottle.