Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A visit to Royal Male at The Providence Arcade

Built in 1828, The Providence Arcade is the United States' oldest indoor shopping mall.  It's also been known as the Westminster Arcade and, simply, The Arcade.  This elegant example of the Greek rectilinear temple style was modeled to imitate European business arcades and is an important example of early monolithic granite construction.

In the above picture, you can see how the porticos house the stairways, a very convenient feature.  Each end of the building has 6 Grecian Ionic columns three feet in diameter.  The roof over the entrance hall is covered with glass 32 feet in width by 188 feet in length.  A wonderful light is created by this feature.  This beautiful building was named a National Historic Landmark in 1976.  The building was closed for remodeling in 2008, but was hampered by the poor economy.  It reopened this past summer and new stores are opening almost weekly.

Here's the exciting part of the story.  Two of my favorite shops moved into The Arcade.  I like good coffee and New Harvest is the best in Rhode Island.  I have a fondness for Coffee Exchange, too, but New Harvest has partnered with some of the coolest coffee shops in New England and they are just plain awesome.  I took a barista class with them a couple of winters ago and it was really terrific.  Well, this blog isn't really about coffee, so I'll move along to the main attraction.

Maurice and Lynne de La Valette opened Royal Male opened in Newport, RI back in the 1980's after leaving Saks 5th Avenue in New York.  They have since opened another shop in Newport, Royal Warrant and have recently another Royal Male in The Arcade, which is managed by their son, Etienne.

The store is small, but packed with the finest products.  Of course, I love my Barbour, but they carry all of the best outdoor wear, some of which is made especially for them.  For my first visit, I brought along my friend, coworker and fellow Barbour enthusiast, GDM.  We met for coffee next door at New Harvest, got our caffeine on and got ready to take it all in.

Best of Rhode Island

Royal Male carries many of the hard to find Barbour jackets, like The Commander.  GDM found and XL to try on and it fit perfectly.  After thinking about it for a couple of days, he's heading back down to pick it up this week.  Etienne was happy to hold it for him.

Here are a couple of Polaroid pictures that I took during our visit.



Polaroid 250 with Fuji FP100c

Royal Male does a lot of business online and you can check their website here.  They can be found on Facebook and Tumblr.  They offer a student discount, which is great, especially if you are attending nearby Brown University, Johnson & Wales or Providence College.  Please check them out if you're in the Providence area and don't miss the other exciting shops at The Arcade.

Here's a great article from the Providence Journal about The Arcade.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cowen Commando vs. Sapper vs. Trooper

I was recently asked to compare the Barbour Cowen Commando, Sapper and Trooper jackets.  While I don't have a Trooper and don't know too much about it, I'll do my best.

The Barbour Cowen Commando:

From Orvis:  Modeled after a historic British Army pattern, this heavyweight 8-oz. waxed cotton jacket has all the authentic military details, including snap-closure pockets on the front and sleeves, two-way zip front with snap placket, a drawcord waist with adjustable toggles, reinforced shoulder pads, and a Union Jack badge. Fully lined in Barbour cotton tartan. Seven exterior and two interior pockets. In sage. Pure cotton. Wipe with damp cloth to clean. UK. 
Barbour classic fit even sizes 36-52. About 33½" long in size large.

 The pockets are not the full "bellows" type like a Beaufort, Bedale, Border, etc...  The storm cuffs are the nylon style with a small piece of Velcro, much like the Beaufort or Border- not like the Bedale.  No hand warmers.

There is a small game pocket on the inside left.

Drawstring waist, although this is unusable by by 6' 4" friend.  Fine on my 5' 8" frame.

Reinforced shoulders and lots of small pockets around the jacket.  I keep a compass, matches, etc... in mine.  

More pockets and you can see the small corduroy flap to cover your neck.  I think that's a nice detail. 

Union Jack and epaulet.  

Mandarin collar with no integral hood.

A look at the lining and small drip strip.  There are no snaps or zipper on mine for a liner.  
I added snaps on the collar so I could add a hood, which costs about $30 USD.

"The Cowen Commando Jacket has been developed from an original wartime design customised by Barbour on behalf of one if its favourite British Army customers. The original was returned many times to Barbour’s Customer Services department for re-waxing, adaptations and numerous pocket additions, and saw service in the Falklands and the Gulf before being retired to the Barbour archives." -bushcraftuk.com

I've been told that this jacket is no longer available because it's pattern is still being used by the British Army.  I'm not sure if that's true, but it makes a good story.  My friends at Royal Male in Newport, Rhode Island still have a small selection of this jacket.  I'd say that this is probably one of my favorite Barbour jackets.

The Barbour Sapper:

From Orvis:  A multifeatured army-style jacket built in medium weight 6-oz. Sylkoil waxed cotton. Polyester insulation for warmth. Two-way front zip with studded front flap. Corduroy inner collar and cuffs. Stowaway hood in the collar. Four patch flap pockets on the front and an inner zip pocket. Inner-waist drawcord. 100% Barbour Sylkoil waxed cotton. 
Sizes: S(34-36), M(38-40), L(42-44), XL(46-48), XXL(50-52); about 32½" long in size large. Contemporary Fit. 

The pocket system is a little more subdued than the Cowen.  Note the lower pockets are not bellows or even like the Cowen, but integral to the lining.  Similar drawstring as the Cowen.  Notice that it's a little longer in the back, like a Nethercott or Longshoreman.

Quilted lining, so no zip or snap in lining options.  This is a warm jacket.

Handy zipper pocket for a cell phone, etc...

A closer look at the pocket.  The Cowen does not have the logo embroidery anywhere on the jacket.

I've never loved this wrist flap snap.

Mandarin collar with integral lightweight hood.  Emphasis on lightweight, but it's handy if you forgot a cap.  It's probably pretty expensive to put snaps for a hood here, as you'd have to replace a bunch of material.  Not seen:  Shoulder gussets make this jacket a little friendlier to gentlemen that have broad shoulders or are larger in stature.

The Barbour Trooper:

From Country Attire:  
Contemporary, Four-Pocket Rugged Wax Jacket
Mediumweight Barbour Sylkoil wax.
- 100% cotton Barbour Tartan lining, box quilted onto 30g wadding for extra warmth.
- Multi-Pocketed.
- Leather Barbour logo to back.
- Cord inner collar and adjustable cuffs.
- Chest Tolerance: 8" (20cm) - Actual chest measurement is 8" greater than stated size.
Length: 31-33" (79-84cm).
Also available in Sandstone Brown colour.
Please visit Countryattire.com for additional pictures.

These pictures are from ebay:
So, this is is like a Sapper with epaulets and bellows pockets.

Mandarin collar.  No integral hood or snaps for a hood.  Gusseted shoulders.  I've seen a quilted lining on these, too.

I probably dislike this feature the most.  Is it for hanging up your jacket or for pining a "kick me" sign. Either way, it's not my cup of tea.  These are hard to find now.  I think the Utility jacket has taken it's place.

In my opinion, the Cowen Commando wins.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

1990 Barbour Catalog

I posted the complete 1990 Barbour catalog over on the Thornproof Tumblr page.  Lots of great photos and descriptions of each jacket.  Go there to check it out.  Cheers!