Getting technical with a classic - the Khamsin Chore Coat from Coldsmoke
There was a guy I used to hang with in my 20s that I really admired. He was good looking, intelligent, capable - a working class type who had a great sense of style without even trying. While he never had a lot of money, he always had a solid kit, and an essential piece of it was a Carhartt coat.
This was right about the time Carhartt became a thing. My buddy’s jacket was pre-Tommy Boy. You could tell the difference because the old coats didn’t have the logo patch sewn on the front, proclaiming your legitimacy. For reasons probably just as vain, having this unembellished version was important to us, and it pleases me to know that I have one hanging in the closet myself.
That’s one of the things I like about the Khamsin Chore Coat, and all of the clothing from Coldsmoke Apparel, really. It doesn't need any branding on it, because their fit and fashion does the talking for them. They don’t have to resort to more overt marketing, because, inevitably, someone is going to ask “what kind of jacket is that”, and then they have another customer for life.
The American chore coat has a long and storied tradition. Surely it evolved from some English jacket the name of which I am unaware. Eventually, though, the standard chore coat design on this side of the pond came to be defined by two large breast pockets, a pair of hip pockets, an oversized collar that could be flipped up to protect the neck, and a loose, boxy cut. Unlike the Carhartt that my friend wore, which was more in the style of an Eisenhower jacket, the typical chore coat is three-quarter length. The modern Khamsin strikes a nice balance between the two.
In fact, existing between two worlds is somewhat of a theme with the Khamsin. When my wife first saw it, her initial comment was, “Is that a shirt, or a jacket?”
Chore coats have been around for years. All of the celebrated American workwear companies - Filson, Woolrich, Oshkosh - have made them, sometimes calling them barn coats or engineer jackets. Today, hundreds of examples can be found, marketed by various brands. The Khamsin, however, is like no other.
First off, there’s the construction. It’s made from Schoeller Feelgood 3XDRY Technology (94% cotton, 6% Spandex) fabric. A dockworker or roughneck in the 1800s would have killed for this thing. It's water repellant from the outside, moisture wicking on the inside, and quick drying with just the right amount of stretch. Lighter than my lined Carhartt, it’s perfectly suited to brisk summer mornings in the mountains or serving as a mid-layer under a parka or overcoat in the winter. The only thing I’m dubious of is the zipper, which are always a point of failure, but there is a weather flap with snaps just in case.
I will admit, I’m a little nervous to do any actual chores in it. Not because I think it won't stand up to the abuse, but just because it looks so damn good. I’m more inclined to wear it out on the town than I am to the dog yard.
After its technical acuity, the cut is what truly separates this coat from the rest, both past and present. For someone with a slight build like mine, a standard barn coat always had to be worn open, never zipped, if you wanted it to look good. That’s because they are cut wide around the middle, to accommodate a working man's ...er ... heft. When worn closed, they tend to balloon out noticeably, especially on a skinny guy like me.
Not so with the Khamsin. The cut is modern and trim, with a great drape, regardless of how you wear it or what you might be doing. Zip it to the neck, leave it open, hands in your pockets, chopping firewood, the Khamsin has you covered. As with all of their small batch apparel, Coldsmoke has really paid attention to the details with this coat.
I’ll be checking in on the regular to let you know how it stands up over time, so be sure to subscribe to the feed. Until then, pop over to the Coldsmoke site and scope the rest of their line. Just be ready to drop some duckets, cuz that shit is dope.
cheers ~ cobey