The history of the chore jacket


When we started Pajotten it was going to be a menswear company - producing mainly chore jackets, Ben had been wearing them for years, old secondhand ones worn patched and weatherworn, perfect for working in, we thought other people might see the value of such a versatile and utilitarian garment - we were about 5 years late to the party! By the time we started the brand everyone was wearing them - whether they were treasured finds from French flea markets or  bought at great expense from designer shops everyone was looking for a casual looking jacket that they could work in - the indigo chore jacket has become synonymous with people who work, whether its gardeners, labourers, farmers, architects, photographers or painters - when I was researching at the design stage almost every vintage black and white photo I could find of people working in factories and fields had someone wearing a version, beaten up, patched but beloved.

The chore jacket originated in 19th century France,  it was very simple, made from hard wearing cotton - often in indigo or dark blue - originally in 'bleu de travai' which translates to ‘blue work’.                                                                                      

The first versions had a simple pointed collar, with two large patch pockets and a button down front, with cuffed sleeves. Because of its loose fitting it was the perfect layer over a pair of overalls, waistcoat or jumper, its slightly short length stopped it getting caught in machinery and the two large pockets were perfect to store twine, knives and tobacco tins.

By the 1920s version of the jacket were being made all over Europe and also in America, although there they tended to be made in denim. Details changed dependent on the work the wearer was carrying out, American manufacturers added top stitching and rivets to make them stronger and used heavier canvas fabrics but in Europe the jacket held firm to the original style although extra pockets were added internally and also on the chest, while the cuffs were discarded in favour of a simple sleeve.

We currently produce three styles - the very popular traditional chore jacket, with 6 pockets, in a hardwearing but strong, brushed twill sourced from a family mill in Yorkshire, a simpler version with two high patch pockets in the same cloth and also the simple chore jacket which is in a lighter denim, pared down with two traditionally placed pockets. Ben favours the denim chore jacket and has worn it every day for over a year now, whether working in the studio, outside labouring or indeed socially and it still looks great. 

If you would like samples of the cloth we use for the jackets please email us: studio@pajotten.com


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