by Emily Phillips
7 min
Friekerike Snelting ©

The inevitable arrival of subversive outerwear has been just out of our eyeline for the past two years of the pandemic. With the overall wellness trend that gained popularity in the midst of COVID-19, and an increasing interest in outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, and extreme sports, outerwear has attracted positive attention from the fashion industry.

It seems that not only have we finally accepted that we live in a tempermental climate prone to unpredictable weather and have begun to dress accordingly; but we actually want to take on the great outdoors. Signalling a newfound common-sense approach to dressing where sustainability, functionality and utility come above all else, jackets and coats have become high-priority on our shopping lists. But, that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice style for substance. 

Outerwear has always been about its function, keeping us warm and dry, and meant to be worn on top of our precious clobber. Now though, there’s no need to restrict ourselves to practicality, as vesture has become about more than just a simple trench coat or classic puffer. 

Enter the contemporary design scene. A new generation of designers are stepping outside, producing exceptional collections with their fresh interpretation of the term ‘going out’, repositioning a functional yet fashionable parka as the new white-tee. With garments to take us from après-ski to the high street, with built-in technology, dramatic shapes and multi-function features, it feels like the outdoors have never been so suave. And all things considered, 2022 might just be the year to don such exaggerated silhouettes. 

We’re taking a closer look at four of the outerwear aficionados who make our coats more than just practical, but playful too. 

Instantly recognisable, Friederike Snelting’s work pushes the boundaries of puffers. Initiating her collections by first playing and experimenting with the fabrics before manipulating them into unusual, oversized silhouettes, she creates futuristic, utilitarian basics for the globe-trotter. 

Circular fashion comes to the fore of her collections as she upcycles from production surplus. Meanwhile, elasticated waistbands and oversized fits work to prolong the lifetime of the garms while the wearer’s body changes with each passing year. Known for her larger than life silhouettes, Friederike was named a finalist in the 2021 Redress Design Awards. She was also shortlisted for the Arts Thread Global Design Graduate Show with Gucci, and included in ShowStudio’s Class of 2021 selected by Nick Knight

Her Redress collection, dubbed RE.SKI, featured soft-surface quilted coats that took inspiration from the voluminous shape and structure of the inflated packaging fillers she had previously created in a bid to reduce waste. The wearer is treated as a product while the garments adapt to their body’s shape like a plastic mould enveloping an object.

You’d be hard pressed not to consider Siyi Long as a contender for the best outerwear coming out of London. Originally from Shanghai, Siyi fashions a infallable harmony between performance and strong design silhouettes, exploring the idea of functional, fashionable, fatherhood. Her innovative designs are made for both working and stay-at-home dads to enjoy confidence in their daily lives with their children and families. 

Before graduating from her MA in Menswear Design and Technology at London College of Fashion, Long was given the opportunity to present her graduate collection during London Men’s Fashion Week in 2019. Thereafter, she officially established her eponymous brand SIYI LONG that has debuted strictly snow white, toile collections reminiscent of all-encompassing, wearable duvets. Taking functional technological research into her diversified, high-end designs, she includes ruching details, quilting, oven-mitt-like sleeves and translucent windbreakers. 

But what makes Siyi so special are her ‘transformers’ garments, characterised by their ability to function as versatile three-in-one pieces that increase clothing use. For example, a puffed gilet with a built-in, removable, backpack, doubles as knee length draping for a calf-length coat. Siyi also offers a series of made-to-order bespoke tailoring in a bid to reduce waste. 


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Time-travelling designer Juntae Kim is drawn to utility and sci-fi futurism while simultaneously looking to Baroque costume influences for boundary-breaking tech-infused outerwear. Soon to graduate from Central Saint Martins, the Korean designer has already locked down a collaboration with Levis that features demi-couture denim jackets and jeans. 

Recognisable from his juxtaposing of menswear and womenswear, he combines technology, sport and ornate stitching, to create physically altered outerwear. Resembling alien corsetry, his collections carry a certain sense of deja vu. 

His MA pre-collection was made up of Nylon puffers that spiral from the hips to the bold exaggerated shoulders, seam-sealed doublet puffer jackets with shoulder wings, and sherpa-trimmed off-cut leather jackets. He also debuted a floor-length detachable puffer dress, with 3M Thinsulate thermal gloves conjugated with a rococo tapestry corset. 

But what’s really striking about Juntae’s work is the in-built solar charged panels that employ green-energy to your devices – through a foldable solar charger with a USB port that sit on the sleeves of some of his garments to charge 5V devices, acting as a power bank, even on grey days. Embedded in a goose-down puffer dress, a windbreaker, and a jumper, all it takes to keep you powered-up is catching a few rays. 


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A post shared by Juntae Kim (@juuntaekim)

When it comes to outerwear, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. In fact, wearable practicality is a must-have for many of us. Having said that, Dublin-born designer Robyn Lynch is a true craftsperson of outerwear designed to brave the elements. 

Looking to her upbringing for inspiration, her vision of Ireland comes to life in the sporty nylon windbreakers, upcycled parkas, and quilted and waterproof blazers fused with aran knits that pay tribute to her roots. She embraces the folkways of the Irish and the quaint customs that, though sometimes seen as odd, are somehow completely contagious. 

The epitome of Irish culture pre-naughts, the Fashion East alum dresses youngsters in traditional Irish chunky cable knits, performing Concertina accordion jams at the pub and football players in very short shorts. Contrasting neutral and bold tones, mingling the synthetic with the natural, she splices together the old and the new: sewing together materials that wouldn’t normally coincide next to each other.

A milestone in her career came when she joined forces with Columbia back in June to transform branded deadstock materials into a seasonless mash-up of Columbia’s traditional outdoor codes puzzled into the brand signatures Lynch has been developing since her debut. Using recycled ski pants and eco-waste to reapply all the technical functionalities of the old to serve the new, and garlanded with Lynch’s own 70 per cent sustainable additions such as reflective piping and ocean plastics, it was a hybridised, sustainable collection coming in burgundy, grey and khaki to represent the Irish flag. 

Her circular designs have captivated a cult following, perhaps in their inherent quality of feeling visceral where deep textures, audacious colours, and the narrative of true Irish culture is undoubtedly evident. 


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A post shared by ROBYN LYNCH (@robynlynchireland)

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