How Did Donkey Jackets Become a Fashion Icon?

The humble donkey jacket has undergone something of a fashion revolution since its first appearance on the market. Once a staple piece for miners and canal workers, throughout the decades this timeless coat has graced the back of many people from different walks of life.

From conception in the 1880s to modern day, the donkey jacket has been a mainstay style for many, plus the long history with the working class is an intriguing story.

One thing is for sure, however; this style isn’t going away anytime soon. But just how did it become the fashion icon it is today?

Men's Donkey Jacket

 

The Origin

During the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal, the workers needed something to keep them warm throughout the cold northern weather. Step forward George Key in 1888. He developed a new type of coat, which was specifically designed from hardwearing material to ensure it withstood the working and weather conditions.

As such, the donkey jacket was born. The very name harks back to the origins: donkey refers to the laborious work undertaken by those wearing it, but it also relates to the donkey engines the workers used. 

Due to this humble beginning, the donkey jacket has always carried a certain association with working-class life. It was most famously worn by miners throughout the decades, with their chosen style featuring vibrant orange patches, along with reflective strips on the arms and shoulders, and NCB (National Coal Board) on the back. Therefore, it’s often regarded as typical wear for British manual workers, however, contemporary wear has broadened the donkey jacket sphere.

This common bond between workers made the donkey jacket an essential wardrobe piece because if you weren’t wearing one, could you honestly be classed as part of the group?    

 Men's Donkey Jacket

Fashion Icon

Nowadays, this humble piece has shed the working-class association, and contemporary styles and colours have emerged victorious. The variety of styles, colours, and fabrics have ensured donkey jackets became an essential wardrobe piece for men from the tips of Scotland to the southernmost point of the UK.

The range available is vast and elegant; for example, the Collins Donkey Jacket is crafted from the finest Italian Melton wool with dry wax cotton patches to encompass the original style features.

Dress it up or wear it to work, the donkey jacket is a versatile jacket suited to all occasions. What’s more, the style is guaranteed to ensure every wearer stays warm throughout the harshest of winters.

Men's Navy Donkey Jacket

Choose a lightweight style such as the Moss Donkey Jacket to see you through autumn, winter and spring. Or opt for an incredibly cool chunky cord, such as the Musso Harrington Cord Jacket, to look sleek and stylish through the colder months. The additional feature of deep pockets ensures that whatever the wearer needs is right beside them.

Men's Donkey Jacket

The Future

It’s not hard to see that the future for donkey jackets is bright. With contemporary styles designed and crafted using the finest wool, each individual coat is perfect to layer over chunky knits or lighter shirts and t-shirts when the weather turns milder.