When I think about down jackets – not modern day TNF Nuptses or Montbell, or even pioneers like First Down – I go back to the OGs. Moncler comes to mind: the Grenobles, in all of their zip-off and vivid colour-blushed glory, are a true testament to design. Moncler, founded in 1952, holds good grounds for being one of the first true down-soaked originators. But way before that, back in 1859, Pyrenex – more of an abstract concept than a brand – was founded in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
In the late 19th century, Abel Crabos travelled from village to town and town to village collecting feathers from markets, before eventually using them to insulate jackets. At the time, the down jacket didn’t exist: these were simply rudimentary work jackets, whose linings were carefully pried apart and stuffed with feathers. But the core premise was there: feathers trap air, and air insulates. They used the same techniques to build jackets to protect prisoners from the cold during WWII. They made sleeping bags, expanded the technicality of their jackets, and by the late 1960’s, the brand was established with a foothold on mountaineering and functional garments.
The Crabos family’s efforts have evolved since then. Now, they make jackets that in every way match the fashion aesthetic of ‘21’s demands, 180 years later.
This Sten Jacket shines like rays of light on the tips of the Pyrenees’ snow capped peaks. This John Gilet glistens. If you want a jacket that has proletariat heritage built into its seams, these are the ones.