The James Dean 'Giant' coat, revived
We've all been there: Watching a classic film, drooling over the clothes and wishing we could figure out where to buy them. Classic clothier Bench & Loom is now making that dream come true for one very specific item: The Jett Rink ranch coat worn by James Dean in the 1956 film "Giant."
Last fall, the website invited visitors to vote on which classic clothing item they'd like revived from the Oscar-winning film co-starring Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor. The Phoenix Project, as it's called, gave visitors three options: A denim jacket worn by a cowboy, a field jacket worn by director George Stevens and the shearling-trimmed ranch coat worn by Dean, which was the overwhelming winner.
"Guys I know don't talk about their clothes that often. When we do, it's when we're watching an old movie and see something cool," said Jared Zaugg, who co-founded Bench & Loom last fall with his wife, Brooke. "We thought there was something to that: Being able to find something on somebody you admire that has style."
To re-create the coat, the Zauggs borrowed a similar coat from a Phoenix Project voter who had saved a jacket from the same defunct manufacturer. They also worked with Japanese designer Atsu Tagaya and the Japanese manufacturer Stevenson Overall Company to make subtle improvements that added to the coat's wearability without detracting from its overall character.
.Instead of the itchy wool collar of the original, the coat is trimmed in alpaca shearling at the neckline. The silhouette was narrowed to make it less boxy, and the sleeves were lined with man-made silk Cupra to make it easier to slide arms in and out. The exterior of the double-breasted coat is twill and features looped button closures, two large front flap pockets and two chest slit pockets.
"Practicality is important. We don't just want to create costume," said Zaugg, adding that it was equally important to work with a reputable, longstanding manufacturer that pays extraordinary attention to detail, like the rest of the heritage jackets, bags, boots and accessories sold through Bench & Loom.
Priced at $648, the Bench & Loom Jett Rink ranch coat is the first custom-made item for Bench & Loom and will be manufactured in a single run of 30. The site started taking non-refundable, $480 deposits for the jacket Friday and will fill orders on a first come, first served basis until Aug. 31. Coats are expected to ship in October.
-- Susan Carpenter
Photos: James Dean in "Giant"; Bench & Loom's Jett Rink Ranch coat; Marlon Brando in "On the Waterfront." Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures; Bench & Loom; EPA.