Thursday, April 23, 2009

From the Times: Filson Tin Cloth Vest

From left, Richard Poe, Kristine Nielsen, Laura Benanti and Amir Arison in Christopher Durang’s new comedy at the Public Theater

On April 7, friend Brad W. and I both noted the stage right presence of a Filson Original Hunting Vest in a page C6 NY Times review of the play, Why Torture is Wrong, and the people who love them. Indoors, the tin cloth vest looks newly minted and out of place, like it just came off the shelf of a Filson flagship store.

In past blog posts, I've noted the presence of Filson and Barbour brands in David Mamet movies. I'm wondering whether Mamet's influence on Broadway now extends to dressing principal characters in American heritage clothing brands?

While I've tried to champion oil finished Filson tin cloth as an indoor fabric, I've rarely seen this practice adopted by anyone other than Tin Cloth Monday participants. The original tin cloth hunting vest works well for indoor wear given its extensive, purse-like pocketing and ventilating arms holes.

Several years ago I had a local seamstress add some additional upper pockets and a brass grommet to my own tin vest. As it were, I ended up selling it on ebay due to irreconcilable sizing issues (it wore more like an A-frame tent). A photo:

Refab Filson Hunting Vest

Early (198x?) Filson catalog


Anonymous said...

Always thought the oval in the middle of the Wings and Horns nailhead vest wast strange. Then I saw this.

Anonymous said...

Having seen the play, I feel I should let you know that the Filson is part of this fellow's costume to reinforce and burlesque his waspy, Republican, over the top, arrogant, old money, terrorist-hunting character. You know, satire.

Lesli Larson said...


Thanks for the live action report! Life by NY TIMES photographs can be limiting.

I can see how the hunting vest as costume could satire the character's waspy..terrorist ways. I'm just curious about the selection of the Filson Original style vest in full tin for this character. Seems like heavy armour to wear on stage for a full length, brightly lit production. Does it age, melt or come off the character at some point?

Anonymous said...

Nope, but maybe it's an intense because he is so ridiculous and intense. At one point in the show there is a reveal that his "butterfly collection" is a collection of floor to ceiling axes and knives and guns. The character is a terrorist-hunter...literally.

Does that make sense? original=classic=waspy=douchebag

full tin=extreme armor=over reacting=paranoid douchebag

Seems like the character wears this just for show.

Costume designers like their details.

you see? or maybe i am missing your point..

Lesli Larson said...

your take on the vest makes sense.

I like that the tin vest could be coded and read in this way... tin cloth vest as kind of body armor rather than vest as genteel, upper class hunting costume.

(aside from the pointing gun) the times photo does not quite convey the terrorist side of the character.

on a more practical level, i was marveling at the idea that someone could wear one of those vests under hot theater lights for X hours.