WORDS BY STEPHEN YU
Call it a gilet, call it a utility vest: the dog-walker’s favorite is this spring’s key layering piece. Look out for functional details, and wear it over a white tee or a button-down shirt. Keep reading for our selection of the best designer utility vests.
Stone Island Patch Pocket Jacket
As with any piece from the Italian masters of outerwear – Stone Island – this vest is all about innovation. Crafted from Tela Placcata Bicolore, which is an ultra-fine, tightly woven cotton fabric, each side of the vest has been coated with a different resin to give a multi-coloured and multi-panelled look. What’s even better, the resin works in tandem with an anti-drop agent to give a wind-resistant finish that protects the fabric from dirt and water. Guaranteed to age like a waxed-jacket or fisherman’s oilskins with every outing, and there are plenty of pockets for dog poo bags too.
London-based menswear label Blood Brother have taken the idea of the men’s utility vest and turned it up a notch. By taking four key elements of utilitarian design – namely pockets, zippers and nylon webbing with D-ring buckles – and amplifying them to the maximum they’ve created a gilet that finds itself perfectly placed between functionality and forward-thinking fashion. We’re totally digging the bondage-era Helmut Lang aesthetic too.
What use is a designer utility vest if it doesn’t deliver on practicality? Fortunately, we can trust our Parisian friends at Futur to deliver on all counts. Their Buya gilet is made from a water-repellant poly-cotton blend with a heavyweight polar fleece lining for maximum warmth making it the ultimate winter layering piece. We count six pockets on it too, so there’s no excuses for forgetting your keys. And there’s every type of closure you could want from a pocket zipper, velcro, press-button, take your pick.
What you get with a Heron Preston piece is an item of workwear that’s been revamped and remixed with a modern-day twist. With this utility vest, Preston borrows from the worlds of law enforcement and fire services, at least we think he does anyway. Looking like a ballistic vest from with room for ammunition and doughnuts on the front, while from the rear it takes on the padded appearance of a bulletproof vest, what matters on this piece is it looks utilitarian and rugged as hell.
Positioning itself at the intersection of luxury fashion and functional design, Matthew Williamson’s Alyx creates everyday wearable design with premium fabrics and sustainable materials. On this utility vest silhouette, Williamson borrows references from the world of hunting alongside military pieces. Wrinkled neoprene replaces the more traditional leather rifle recoil shoulder pad seen on hunting jackets, while tactical molle-style webbing and buckle closure are nods to combat-approved design.
If there’s one thing that’s becoming clear, it’s that Kanye’s proteges love a utility vest. This sleek all-black vest from Samuel Ross’ A-Cold-Wall features all of the designer’s most iconic design details – two cargo pockets and custom asymmetric zip pulls – alongside a contemporary cropped fit.
As the pioneers of technical nylon fabric in fashion, and the originators of luxury sportswear, no list of utility vests would be complete without Prada. Miuccia Prada is her name, simplicity is her game, and this season Prada has delivered the most clean and minimal of men’s utility vests. Cut with a funnel neck and stuffed with feather down in all-black nylon fabric, this gilet tops the list of understated yet versatile of layering pieces.
This retro gilet is inspired by a similar piece from the FW97 Polo Sport collection making this an excellent opportunity to bag some modern-day Ralph with a vintage Polo aesthetic. The green colourway is basically begging to be worn in the great outdoors, with the addition of a strip of reflective tape across the front and back for increased visibility should you get caught out hiking with no signal. As if six front pockets and two internal pockets weren’t enough already, there’s a nylon pouch on the back that can be detached and worn as a belt bag. That’s two products in one, perfect for when you’ve got a hike with mum and dad in the morning, followed by a Stormzy gig with the mandem in the evening.
With a history in expeditions and mountaineering, there’s only one brand we look to when the mercury drops – Moncler. Constructed from the same high-performance quilted down that they’re renowned for, Moncler created this gilet to be just as at home on the slopes as it is in the city with an adjustable hood and stylish red colourway. So warm, and so cool that Virgil wore a similar one to his first PFW. Don’t remember that pic? Google it.
Speaking of Mr Abloh, his own brand Off-White delivers one of the sickest utility vests of the season. Part bomber jacket, part vest, this gilet combines the oversized fit of an M-A1 jacket with the sleeveless design and pockets of a utility vest. What we love about this jacket vest hybrid is those signature Virgil details: paperclip and O-ring zip pulls, cargo pockets, and a pixelated Off-White arrow graphic on the back. Just take our money now!