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Item of the week: the shearling aviator

By Rachel Douglass

May 11, 2022

Fashion

(From left) Image: Ted Baker, Ted Baker, Karl Lagerfeld

What it is:

Aviator jackets, like much of menswear, have derived from military uniforms, with this particular style originally created for pilots in the first half of the 20th century. Typically, the aviator, also known as the flight jacket, consists of a waist length cut, with features like button closures and elasticated cuffs and hems designed to keep the wearer warm. Additionally, an enlarged collar can often also be fixed around the throat using buckles, for added warmth. However, modern iterations of the jacket have mixed these traditional features up, clashing them with other jacket styles or rejuvenating them for today’s customer, resulting in designs that are often unisex. The look was a prominent presence on the AW22 runways, translated using oversized fits, colourful fur linings and revamped silhouettes.
Image: Na-kd

Why you’ll want it:

The aviator jacket has evolved beyond its pilot roots to become a fashion wardrobe staple, with many brands adopting the look often as a statement outerwear piece for the autumn/winter season. Its popularity stems from both its style, which is attractive to both men and women, and design qualities that keep the wearer warm during the cooler months. Brands who have taken on the jacket have adapted these qualities to the modern day, using an array of linings and outer materials allowing for it to appeal to almost any customer group. Its versatility is also present in the way the jacket is constructed, with most brands opting for materials and production that allow the aviator to have a long life span.
Image: Repeat Cashmere

Where we’ve seen it:

On the AW22 runways, the aviator made an appearance in revamped designs that brought it into the modern day. Some designers like Sacai opted for alternative silhouettes, with the Japanese brand specifically offering up a wide, tent-like cut that was additionally present in a sleeveless iteration of the design. For some versions Sacai utilised a coloured fur lining, an element also adorned by Hermès, which stuck to the traditional silhouette. Loewe’s jackets featured lighter tanned materials with the design itself also sticking closely to the typical features of an aviator, contrasting drastically from the brand’s more surreal womenswear runway show for the season. For Kenzo, the house’s new artistic director Nigo presented a subtle twist to the style, adding a contrasting coloured hood to the heritage staple, again offering a modern take on the look.
Image: J. Lindeberg

How to style it:

As an outerwear piece, the aviator jacket is a simple one to style, with many flexible ways to implement the design into both daily wear and evening attire. A simple top and jeans combo is perfect for running errands during the day, or go for tailored pants and boots to create an outfit that has more of an edge. Skirts and dresses can also work with this oversized jacket style. A long or short skirt with a chunky knit sweater and boots is an easy, throw-together option, while a floral dress with a flowing, skater skirt can help bring the jacket into the evening. For men, styling an aviator can be as simple as pairing it with an oversized tee and jeans, but you can mix the look up with layered elements like a button-up sweater or hoodie.
Image: Jack & Jones
Like many designs, the aviator jacket’s roots may be military-based, but it has cemented its place in the fashion wardrobe through modern iterations and technical adjustments. Alongside its versatility and long life span, it’s a jacket that works for both men and women, appealing to a wide customer base whether a brand sticks with the traditional look or decides to switch it up.
Image: Madewell

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