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The Coat Route: Craft, Luxury, & Obsession on the Trail of a $50,000 Coat
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The Coat Route: Craft, Luxury, & Obsession on the Trail of a $50,000 Coat

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  161 ratings  ·  41 reviews
In today’s world of fast fashion, is there a place for a handcrafted $50,000 coat?

When journalist Meg Lukens Noonan learned of an unthinkably expensive, entirely handcrafted overcoat that a fourth-generation tailor had made for one of his longtime clients, she set off on an adventure to understand its provenance, and from that impulse unspooled rich and colorful stories a
Hardcover, 244 pages
Published July 16th 2013 by Spiegel & Grau (first published January 1st 2013)
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Althea Wynne-Davis
I don't know what made me pick up this book - just the idea of anyone spending $50,000 on a custom made coat or on any piece of clothing is baffling to me. Yet, upon sampling the introduction, Noonan's curious yet practical voice hooked me. Also, she and I share the same habit of buying cheap, "disposable" clothes at H&M and Forever 21. Once I read the first few pages, I knew I was going to be in the hands of someone similar enough to myself - i.e., not a high fashion insider. Tracing the pr ...more
Meg Lukens Noonan wrote The Coat Route after reading of an overcoat made by Sydney tailor John Cutler for $50,000. The book is a loving description of the fine materials and expert labour that went into creating this unique garment. Noonan tells us the stories behind the vicuna wool, the fabric, the silk, the horn buttons and the other elements of the coat's construction. Along the way she gives us potted histories of Savile Row, the Andean vicuna industry, the Yorkshire mill towns, button manuf ...more
Most amazing book. Even if you don't sew, it would be incredibly interesting. She follows the materials used in making a $50,000 vicuna overcoat by a Bespoke Tailor in Australia. She goes backwards and finds the source of the linings (Italy), the bone buttons (England), the vicuna (mountains of Peru) the tailors in trade (Saville Row), and does an indepth history of it all. It may sound boring, but it isn't. She's a great writer, and it makes you think about our throw-away clothes. For me, as a ...more
This book which follows the creation of a "bespoke" coat from learning about the rare vicunas animal (distant relative of the camel), almost extinct, which provides the most expensive wool in the world, to the world of specialty buttons and the beautiful silk used in the lining- no detail was missed. A captivating story of the many craftsmen and their skills - quickly dying out - that produced this most treasured of coats. At first I felt like Meg Lukens Noonan was doing for the tailor, and perh ...more
Eustacia Tan
While I don't think of myself as an extravagant person, when I spend, I spend. I managed to shock my seniors when I bought omiyage (souvenirs) on a trip. I like to buy bargains, but I also like to splash out on things I like. Like a piano.

Ok, digressing. Ahem, back to topic. The Coat Route traces the origins of a $50 000 coat (Wait, what kind of dollar? USD? ASD?). If I had that much money, I would have gotten the top-range furisode already for ... Ok, stopping before I get distracted again.

Kim Olson
I recently read a book about the trend of fast, throw-away fashion (Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion; highly recommended), so I was intrigued about the other end of the spectrum.

The Coat Route tells the story of an exquisite, hand-stitched vicuna overcoat that was made by John Cutler, one of the world's most gifted bespoke tailors. To tell the tale, the author details Cutler's process and also visits the various master crafters around the globe who provided the fabric and t
Gosh, I loved this book! I'm a sewer and interested in textiles and the surrounding industries, so this pushed all of the buttons, so to speak.

I didn't worry about WHY someone would commission a coat that wound up costing $50,000. I know there are people out there with boatloads of $$, so I'm happy that they're supporting a bunch of crafts that I care about. As the client mentioned, he could have easily spent that on a car which would only last a few years; this coat may be passed on to heirs!

An excellent look at the dying art of true bespoke tailoring and the many small, local industries it supports. It really makes you think about how to approach your own spending, not just on clothes, but on all of the disposable objects in our lives. I know it made me want to really commit to a different way of thinking about consumer goods overall! Added bonus: this book is a beautifully written travel/adventure journal. Highly recommended.
Sharon Stoneman
What is luxury? Is it the brands you buy or is it something else? Ms Noonan investigates the creation of a single hand made garment and in so doing examines the current reality of fast fashion versus the world of handmade, bespoke clothing. A very interesting look at the people who craft the materials and the products, and at the people who acquire them.

Very interesting book - lots to think about.
A very enjoyable journey through the world of bespoke tailoring (which, you will learn, is different from made-to-measure). I envy the author her opportunity to peek into this world of true craftsmanship. It is, as you may imagine, also a world of Rolls Royces and penthouses, of traditions passed down through generations, of gentlemen who think brand names are crass. We follow the story of a coat from the Peruvian vicuñas to the fabric weavers to the silk lining to the buttons to the tailor hims ...more
Ok, there's no way I could spend $50000 on a coat, but this made me think about the disposable nature of most clothes we buy. Incredible that there are more particles of polyester than grains of sand on some beaches. After reading this book I am never buying polyester again!
There's nothing wrong with the writing, and the author's research is impeccable - but the obsession with extreme material consumption and the unacknowledged male-centeredness of this book just made it off-putting. The author engages in completely uncritical fawning over these very wealthy men and their fancy cars - presumably because they "let" her into their world for a peek at their insulated and privileged lives. The wide-eyed admiration of the man who goes big-game hunting just made me think ...more
The $50’000. cost of the coat is what first intrigued the author. “If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it” truly applies here. This glimpse into the rarefied and endangered world of bespoke was fascinating; combining a relatively light topic with a heavier look at industrialization and globalization .

The Coat Route is a very enjoyable read It follows from A to Z the creation of a bespoke overcoat. “Bespoke” was a new word for me(!) Each chapter is dedicated to one aspect of the coat.
A book I would not normally read, however I found it fascinating, a real insight into how the other world of high fashion, otherwise know as "bespoke. The author manages to combine a story that traces the history, business and ethics of clothing, buttons, fleece, silk, gold engraving, that makes a $50,000 coat and the slow decline of the art of tailoring.
I found this book fascinating. As a sewer, you don't get to read these sort of books much.

The author, Meg Lukens Noonan saw a story on a coat that cost $50,000. She wanted to know why and how someone would pay this much for a coat as well as the story behind the jacket itself.

You go from Australia, South America, UK and Italy.. great read..
An absolutely fascinating, informative story of how a bespoke, quality coat gets handmade from the finest components from many areas of the world. Gave me a greater appreciation for the the history and reality of how each component is obtained and finished. Made me value my mill-workers forbears from West Yorkshire even more!
What a charming nonfiction read! The author traces every component that goes into a bespoke $50,000 overcoat. To Peru for the vicuna, France, Italy, on down to the buttons. I will never look at clothes the same way again!
I really liked this book, but to be fair it's not for everyone. There's no real plot or premise - this book truly does just follow the path with which this one-of-a-kind, ridiculously expensive coat was design and created.

As someone interested in the garment industry and delving into the world of products that are manufactured with care, I really liked this book. I also really appreciated the amount of research it was clear that the author took to write this - there was a lot of time spent trave
Meg Noonan circles the globe, tracing the origins and history of the components that comprise a hand stitched bespoke overcoat. For those who love textiles, creating, quality and bargain priced clothing this is a quick and enjoyable travelogue.
Gorgeous! Nicely written account of the manufacture of a $50,000 overcoat, following every step in the process of Sydney Tailor, John Cutler, and his mission to create a perfect coat. Beginning with the shearing of the vicuna fleece in Peru and ending with the sewing on of the 18c gold label in the Sydney workroom.
Dannielle Feddema
I was quite surprised that this book held my interest for the entirety of the book. This world of bespoke tailoring is absolutely foreign for me. It is quite fascinating that this world even exists but by the looks of it, this dying art won't exist for much longer.
Definitely an interesting read though.
Sonya V.
Beautiful and very inspiring.
The Coat Route Meg Lukens Noonan
“One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.’ Oscar Wilde
The original meaning of the word ‘bespoke’ was clothing made from scratch, using a pattern drafted to the precise measurements and wishes of one individual. This book tells the story from start to finish of a $50,000 bespoke coat. Yes, this occurred in the 21st century. Being from Spokane I was further intrigued that the book contains a quote from The Spokesman Review. I found this to be a fa
Thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this book, and it made me think about my shopping habits.
The Coat Route is a quick and interesting read on the making of a $50,000 coat. No, that's not a typo. Noonan traces each element of the coat, from the cloth to the threading to the buttons, all put together by hand. In the end, the book is really a treatise on the consumerist world in which we live, with "disposable" clothes and products, and an ode to the dying bespoke industries. I really enjoyed this book.
The Advocate
"Noonan presents the story in such a way that reading about the attention and care behind this and similar garments makes you think about the production methods of the cheaply made clothes with the all-too-familiar “Made in China” labels that we so often put on our backs."
Read more here.
Christina Dudley
Really enjoyed this foray into the ultra high-end world of bespoke clothing. Noonan hunts down vicuña shearers in Peru and fabric weavers in the Brontes' old stomping grounds. There are passages on Beau Brummell and buttons and how hard it is to find an apprentice nowadays.

This is a quick read. If you love clothing and craftsmanship and dollar signs, give it a go.
Very fascinating how "Bespoke" clothing are made and now endangered by China - Also it is interesting how what happened here (outsourcing, companies moving all of manufacturing to China, our Textile industry getting whacked, etc.) is happening at Europe as well - Our newspapers act like we are victims, but it is actually happening everywhere too.
Betsy Eaton
Interesting project. I wish I'd thought of it, and had had the money to pursue the information. The writing was a bit amateur, but I learned some facts. Some chapters were more interesting to me than others, so I skimmed some and it didn't matter.
Started reading and then thought "how could this be of interest to me?" Meg Noonan drew me in and took me on her adventure to find all it took to produce and make this coat. She also introduced me to the fine art of bespoke tailoring. There are too many fine arts/crafting that are dying away because of our disposable society.
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The Coat Route: Craft The Coat Route: Craft, Luxury & Obsession on the Trail of a $50,000 Coat

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