Designer Nigel Cabourn is the oracle when it comes to military clothing, and his sprawling sartorial wisdom has been an ongoing obsession of ours for many years. Unlike other army nerds and Americana fanatics (Engineered Garments' Daisuke Suzuki is one), Cabourn's references are decidedly homegrown, and all the details and finishes on his clothing date back to English army tailoring. British menswear purveyors, Oki-ni, were recently treated to a walk-through of the Cabourn vaults in Newcastle, England—said to be 4,000 pieces deep—and what they unearthed was awesome and war-scarred in the best possible way.
Cabourn has been collecting vintage for the past 40 years and houses his wares in a workshop at the bottom of his garden. It's funny to think that he started his eponymous line back in the '70s, given that his impeccable outerwear is more relevant today than ever. Looking through the old battle clothes gives you a sense of Cabourn's eye for tailoring and fastidious attention to detail: there are French farmer pants from the turn of the century and heavy woolen duffel coats that look as modern now as they did when soldiers wore them back in the 1940s. Besides the clothes, Cabourn has army handbooks on file, including ones that his father used during World War II while serving in India and Burma. And flicking through his spring 2010 collection is like a peek into his family history.