* Prices may differ from that shown
Preppy, country rich style has been steadily creeping back into fashion for the past couple of years now and the made in Chelsea crew have made items like this a must have for this year. Obviously gilets have been around for years but now they are no longer the territory of the horsey joules crowd
This is a great version of the gilet as it mixes country chic with the famous superdry urban twist (in this instance, a classic gilet with a hood made of sweatshirt material to give it just the right amount of 'street style')
These are available in both mens and women's in an impressive range of colours. Women's can come up quite small and the sizes only run from xs to L (and the large would be equivalent to about a 12-14 depending on chest size). However, they are long in length (this is usually a problem for tall girls like me!) and the mens and women's are so alike that if you find you need a larger size, you could easily buy a mens and no one would be any the wiser (another thing superdry does so well, walking that fine line of stylish unisex clothing - mens and women's are often interchangeable at superdry)
Quality of this is amazing - there's a reason superdry costs so much and it's down to the fact it's not going to fall apart after a month like some of the cheap high street fashion knock offs. And if you don't like this version of the gilet, superdry has an impressive selection of more traditional or girlish styles.
==Gilets/ body warmers/ jackets with no sleeve / a pointless sibling of the jacket family:==
Whatever you like to call them the 1980's gilet or body warmer is 2011's fashion must have. Though it sounds unreasonable, these overpriced jackets with no sleeves are fantastic; they are warm, practical, lightweight and durable - raising the question are they so unreasonable? Sadly the simple answer is yes as it is hard to find a branded gilet bellow £85 (bar the hoodless fat face body warmers costing £55 and a few others) with many of them reaching prices in excess of £100, for many of us this is a price well out of our price range, but is it all bad news? No, well not really. In many cases you pay for quality, and as I found there are ways of getting round this premium price (as I will explain later).
There are a range of popular gilets on the market, from the more traditional, but slightly more high-tech, there is a North face branded gilet, which seems to be a hit with men and women who want a sophisticated approach to the new fashion direction, as well as those who are religiously loyal to the company that provides style with uncompromised warmth and protection from the elements - bar fire, to the equally fashionable Jack wills gilet which is an uncontested winner with the consumers looking for the 'preppy' (university/ college) appearance, to my personal favourite the Superdry breed of gilet: The Academy Gilet.
The Superdry brand was establish around 35 years ago, first named under Cult clothing and has taken the British fashion market by storm, children, teens, adults and even the elderly (my granddad owns his very own Superdry jumper, bless him), in only 7 years (the first Superdry store opening in 2004).
Many first heard of it in main stream fashion around 4years ago, I for one was taken in by their unique approach on the usual track/ sport jacket - the Superdry 'Technical' coat with the infamous high, turtle like, collar which seems to have become more recognised than the Superdry logo itself (also situated on the top right rear of the jacket). Though many find it hard to believe that they have become so popular in so little time, even naming it a 'fashion phenomenon' after achieving impressive profit growth: recording a profit for 2009 of just under £8 million; I believe it is quite simple, they make statement designer clothes with their bright orange logo, their quirky designs and a style suited for all - at an affordable price ranging from £18 (their 'Osaka t-shirts) to the more expensive but equally worth it £175 (the military pea style double breasted jacket, a review on this product in particular is soon to follow ïS). It is quite obvious this brand is developing rather rapidly, so if I were you I would get involved before you are left chasing a runaway kart (and paying a bit more - there has also been a slight increase in price - this will continue to do so as popularity soars)
The Superdry academy gilet can be bought in a variety of colours: crimson, 'French navy', black, grey and a few others. Each of the colours is subtle ensuring they complement most things that can be worn with the item. I personally have the French navy coloured body warmer - which is a dark royal blue which is toned down by the fabric that makes the gilet. Furthering this point the Superdry academy gilet is the first I have seen to have a 70% cotton shell; many others have a more waterproof typical jacket outer layer. This provides a nice change and differentiates it with others - whether you prefer it however is personal choice and perception of both types of clothing. The jacket has the typical Superdry contrasting, in colour, emblem and logo situated on the back right of the gilet, the French navy has a dark grey stitching which I personally like as isn't too brash compared to others such as white stitching or even lime green...
The second biggest characteristic that differentiates it is the oversized draw strings which add to the individualism and flair of this particular Superdry item, this aspect is unique and a symbol of Superdry so is a welcomed addition. The hood is made from cotton which looks very smart as it too contrasts with the shell of the gilet - for many of the different colours produced by Superdry it works well however I have seen the crimson one with a rather distasteful coloured hood which I personally don't believe looked great. Other aesthetic characteristics include a metal logo (as shown in the image), additional stitching on both pockets, the Superdry name seems to appear on literally everything from buttons to zips to the metal rings surrounding the drawstrings: talk about product marketing - but I don't blame them they want to show this product off. Lastly relatively interestingly, the Superdry features both buttons and zips, though the buttons are hidden when sealed they aid a good slim fitting appearance to the finished product as well as adding something extra to look at when it is undone.
Overall the aesthetics of this item as you would expect are excellent and the exceptional finish, typical of Superdry, further exaggerates this - an example being the, beautifully made, chunky zips. Obviously whether the item looks good is up to the person wearing it. In my opinion I would say firstly it looks better in material than in photo as many photos do not give justice to the quality of the appearance and secondly your appreciation of the product will improve over time as it looks both excellent in summer with a t-shirt or in winter with a hoody.
===Does the 'build quality' match the aesthetics?===
In the most case yes, the actual putting together of the gilet is excellent the stitching seems sound (and I have had mine for around 6 months now) the cotton on the outside seems to be of high quality too, the zips are really versatile and can be beaten around with the constant up and down of the zip and still works without any problems - however one problematic aspect is the pocket zips; the problem being these too are made with the same versatile, hard wearing zip mechanism as used for the main zip. This means the zip can be coarse on your hands, especially when they are cold and the zip can be clumsy at times - not the effortless zip you would expect for just shy of £100. The buttons are well sewn providing a tight clasp with the button hole. The only other problem with the build quality is the fabric around the oversized drawstrings; these can become slightly frayed - very quickly so it does mean one has to be careful with them.
This gilet is excellent in cold conditions with a mixture of 40% down and 60% feather providing a brilliant insulating layer that delivers copious amounts of warmth however it is not un-matched nor unbeatable: compared to other competitors such as the north face gilets which are and I quote "Jammed with 700 fill goose down" and harbors a variety of thermal technologies, the Superdry version doesn't come top in its class when talking about how effective it is in brutally cold conditions. However for a designer, visually pleasing country or town gilet it easily matches quality offered by the Jack Wills gilet (£98) and the similar Abercrombie and Fitch (£90) alternatives. It truly depends what you as a consumer are looking for.
===The fit/ sizing:===
I am just shy of six foot and some would say I am of an athletic build i.e 'not too podgy' and I purchased the medium. It fits well both in length on the chest and tightness. It fastens to provide a slim fitting appearance and isn't too puffed out meaning it doesn't make the wearer too weighty which is important when thinking this is usually worn with more than 2 layers and we don't want to look like Santa - all year round. On the arms and shoulders the gilet sits nicely, it does not slip and holds itself as if it was on a hanger, it even does this with a hoody underneath (however having two hoods one from your first layer and another from the gilet is quite annoying). The hood fits my head nicely keeping my ears warm and my head dry however there is that strange smerf-like point where the two pieces of cotton have been joined. The back of the jacket also fits well following your natural curvature of your back - which is also rather comfy.
===Why this gilet in particular?===
The Superdry gilet though experiencing a sudden increase over Christmas remains less common than the Jack Wills or even the North Face alternative, which though this doesn't play a major part in many people's decision for me it meant I could nearly guarantee that my brother, my best friend, my friend and my friend of a friend wouldn't have the same gilet as me - and trust me this can happen with other alternatives. Secondly this gilet is made by a manufacturer/ designer that has become well established over the past few years and is extremely popular so you know that the item will be well made and designed to suit its purpose, like the label says: "Superdry double black label, made from the highest standards and under the strictest quality control". Retrospectively of all my research this gilet is original, it is different and being different in today's fashion world is 'cool' and even though it is part of a bigger fashion move this alternative of the clothing item isn't just the same puffy gilet with a different badge stitched onto the front of it (have a look at both the Hollister: http:// www.hollisterco.com/webapp/w cs/stores/servlet/category1_ 13007_ 10201_ 16400_-1_12551 and Jack Wills gilets: http://www.jackwills.com /Store/ ProductDetails.aspx?Produc tRef=005669&Option=005669003 and you may see where I am coming from).
===Some doubts that I had prior to the purchase and how they have been slowly disproven:===
*The cotton exterior would mean it would get damp and it would stain (in fact I have spilt hot chocolate directly onto the cotton and well it seemed to run off of it and left no stain)
*The price pays for the brand not the materials used to make the product? As many know designers cost a premium and this product or brand is no exception, however the materials used and the quality of the gilet warrant the price tag, the only example would be the use of feathers and down to insulate the lining of the gilet.
*The colour would become almost musty? Though it has cotton exteriors it has quite evidently been treated to prevent or at least minimalize the damage caused by stains and the colour has remained the same even though it has been washed several times
*And finally as previously hinted above the gilet can be washed! Fantastic!
===You don't always have to pay full price...===
It is always worth shopping around when looking for any sort of popular clothing product such as gilet because even though in the shops, prices remain the same, or even increase over time due to the recent increase in VAT - internet websites try and beat the prices offered in the shops; meaning we as the consumer can get some absolute bargains - but be wary these bargains go very fast and always purchase from a reputable dealer or shop (I have had prior experience and it got very 'difficult' when attempting to get a refund or at least my product, to prevent this always search for reviews on websites such as this or other forum based websites as the chances are someone will have already made the mistake you are about to). One internet website I would highly recommend is Asos (http://www.asos.com/) a brilliantly clear and fast service as part of an excellent fashion 'outlet'/ showroom; this in fact is where I bought this gilet for £60 instead of the RRP of £90-£100. This wasn't just a one off, there are thousands of bargains to be had so be sure to shop around before rushing into a purchase - my biggest advice on finding bargains when clothes shopping starts off at the fact shops count on you to impulse buy (buying the first product that looks nice regardless of whether over the road it is twenty pounds cheaper), the question is: can you wait a week to make sure you save £30 as I did? Be clever and do not fall into the hands of the shop owners.
===My Overall evaluation as a star rating (this is my first review using a star rating please comment on whether you find it useful or you don't)===
""Value: 7/10"": I found myself a bargain and there are lots out there regarding Superdry gilets and compared to other designer gilets this item costs RRP wise around the same price. However the accepted price for these branded gilets is a bit excessive.
""Appearance: 9/10"": granted it is due to opinion but it's unique in its attention to detail and I like that
""Build quality: 9/10"": as you would expect from an item produced by Superdry
""Versatility: 8/10"": six months and nearly nothing has gone wrong or broken bar slight fraying on the fabric cords as mentioned above
""Effectiveness: 9/10"": for a gilet used out and about, in town and in the countryside it is perfect, for on a farm or up a mountain - not so great
""Overall: 8.4/10"": a great compromise for those looking to stay within the crowd but not follow it at its feet. It would have scored on average 9/10 for a gilet but as a piece of clothing it remains at the 8.4
===Sources and websites mentioned:===
*http:// www.fatface.com/outerwear/clatter-gilet/invt/ 26469/&bklist =icat,4,shop ,menswear ,mensjackets
*http:// uk.thenorthface.com/tnf-uk-en/men/ jackets-vests/men-s-nuptse-vest.html?colour=739
*http:// www.hollisterco.com /webapp/wcs/ stores/servlet/category 1_13007_10201_16400_-1_12551
*http:// www.jackwills.com /Store/ProductDetails.aspx? ProductRef=005669&Option=005669003
This review can also be found on my ciao account: BazzaBoyT
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