Rod’s Togs – The Sky Blue Monkey Jacket

I bought a blue denim Levi’s trucker jacket in Leeds market in 1988 and I still own it now. I can’t remember the last time I wore it – probably not since the double-denim look (the Canadian tuxedo!) began to be frowned upon in style circles several years ago. I’ve mentioned before that in Florida you can live without a jacket for most of the year and as I’ve acquired more alternatives that means less opportunities for each to get worn.

Most people of my Dad’s generation never wore jeans. Some looked upon denim as prison-wear. I recall James Brown saying he had to wear denim when he was incarcerated as a young man and swore he would never do so once he was released – because it couldn’t hold a crease! Others of my Dad’s era I suppose saw denim as clothing for the youth, which were usually given a bad rap in popular culture, such as in films like ‘Reefer Madness’ or ‘The Wild One’.

Instead of denim trucker jackets, gents who had served in the military and had a liking for any of the variety of short blouson type jackets of military origin replicated that look in their civilian wardrobe. My dad wore an off white golf jacket for many years, and later acquired a similar style in navy, as did I.

(Me second from left in the right hand picture)

I don’t recall seeing much evidence of sixties Mods wearing blue denim jackets. They may have been more popular during the revival, but they have a closer association with Skins, Boot Boys, bikers, scooter boys and heavy metal fans (heavily embroidered). Windcheaters / windbreakers, Harringtons and monkey jackets are a step higher in formality than denim trucker jackets and just look a bit more sharp and polished which suits the Mod aesthetic. Worn with either a polo or Breton shirt, jeans or sta pressts, and desert boots or classic trainers they add a layer against the weather that could work through three seasons in the British climate.

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My first attempt in recent years at acquiring a monkey jacket initially involved a search in vain for a white Fred Perry ‘tennis bomber’. Since these only seem to be available on limited release, I gave up the search and settled for one by David Watts as shown above. This was not a bad compromise in terms of quality versus price but the hankering for the real thing persisted until whatever mysterious stimulus required by Fred Perry to permit a re-release occurred and I finally got one of theirs.
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I wore this on my trip to England in 2017 and while it served me well in the late summer weather there, my effusive sister-in-law gave me a big hug when we met and smeared brown makeup on the front. Luckily that mark came out in the wash but got me thinking that in certain predicaments a colour less susceptible to marks than pristine white might be more practical. Sky blue would fill an unmet ‘need’ in my choices of lightweight casual jackets.

So of course I turned to Fred Perry and the other sites which distribute their brand, and of course their last release of the sky blue tennis bomber as shown above was back in early 2018. They’ve since been discontinued and are no longer available anywhere. Trust me – I’ve looked! I was faced again with the choice of looking for a decent replica or patiently waiting until the Fred Perry versions next become available, whenever that might be. I even went to the new Fred Perry showroom in New York City to see if sky blue versions were likely to reappear but the lady there said that she’d seen all the examples of upcoming releases and sky blue tennis bombers were not among them. Further internet searching didn’t help so I was back to the same dilemma which I’d faced before.

David Watts never did a sky blue version and a quick look at their website gives the impression that they are barely hanging on to their niche in the market. Inventory is sparse and not particularly impressive.

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I have a few pairs of sta pressts from Relco and they also do monkey jackets in several colours including sky blue, (see above) available from Adaptor Clothing, but they give the impression of being a blousey fit which is not what I’m after.

In my searching I came across the Real Hoxton monkey jacket which is available in a range of colours (see above).  There’s a very fetching deeper light blue but I didn’t care for the monochrome coloured knitted elastic trims, so I went for the lighter sky blue colour which comes with navy, red and white trim – coincidentally a close approximation of the Fred Perry jacket.

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Mine was delivered recently and I have to say I’m very happy with it. I went for the medium size and it fits me very well. Even the arms are about the right length with little to no bunching in the sleeves, which I find to be a common trait among monkey jackets and Harrington jackets. The material is a lightweight cotton with a soft hand and slightly ‘peachy’ texture and the jacket is made a bit more chill proof with a nylon tonic lining. The metal zip seems sturdy and the slim but not skinny fit means no blousing around the waist and rear. Aside from the lack of logo, raglan as opposed to set-in sleeves, and the addition of knitted piping on the lower hem, from five feet away there’s little to tell the difference between this one and a Fred Perry and it comes in at a fraction of the cost. If and when Fred Perry releases their sky blue version again I can’t say I wouldn’t chase one down if the price was right, but I admit it would be a bit silly to pursue one for the name and emblem only when this Hoxton version is a very close and decent copy – cheaper in terms of price but certainly not in terms of quality.

Sunglasses – Ray Ban Wayfarers
Jacket – Real Hoxton
Polo – Fred Perry
Strides – Levi’s 501
Trainers – adidas Samba World Cup Edition

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