A Closer Look: American Trench Dark Navy Trench Coat

Photos by Nathan Michael


The first time I wrote about the Dark Navy Trench Coats from American Trench, back when the company was still raising funds on Kickstarter, a number of readers took issue with the coat’s cost. Priced at a not so egalitarian $725, this was understandable. However, based on the info presented by the brand, I wasn’t convinced the amount was totally unreasonable either. Well, now that the first batch of jackets has begun to ship (AT was able to reach their funding goal), American Trench co-founder Jacob Hurwitz has leant me one for a hands-on review, so we can all see exactly what those many dollars would be getting us.


If I had to pick one word to describe the design, it would be thoughtful. The more time you spend wearing the jacket, the more you realize just how much attention has been paid to every detail. From the interior pen and sunglass pockets, to the zippered compartment hidden inside the hip pocket, to the lining in the sleeves that makes it easier to get the jacket on, every feature serves a purpose. And yet, despite having these myriad features, the jacket still looks totally minimal – you’d never know just how much utility it packs. To me, that’s very impressive.


The construction is great. Clean stitching – obviously done by a factory that knows what they’re doing. Buttons are solidly attached, lining is flush and doesn’t bunch, the list goes on. The outer fabric is very nice as well – good weight, breathable and truly waterproof. That said, I’m not crazy about the particular plaid that the jacket is lined with. I think the darker tones of the Button-in Black Watch Wool Warmer (pictured in the third shot from the top) actually suit the jacket much better. To me, the brightness of the glen plaid doesn’t match the otherwise subdued aesthetic quite as well. But, that’s certainly not a deal breaker.


And then there’s the fit, which they nailed. Slim without being restrictive, high arm holes, the perfect length, and just as good with a blazer underneath as without. My one and only hang-up is the collar. At present, it sits a little high in the back, which can make for a somewhat unflattering silhouette. I would also lose the plaid fabric on the underside, so the collar can be worn flipped up on days that call for it. Aside from that, I have no other complaints: the rest is aces.


As well made, thoughtfully designed and great fitting as the jacket is, $725 is still a lot of money. If you’ve got it, then yeah, the Dark Navy Trench Coat is a great way to spend it. If you don’t, well there are more affordable options out there (some of which you can find here). Either way, it’s a hell of a first outing, and it definitely has me excited to see what the brand does next.

Many thanks to Nathan Michael for the photo help.

For price and purchase info, visit American Trench.

  • Brian

    I’ll definitely stick to my first assessment — not too expensive for what they’re trying to do. Now if only it rained enough where I live to justify purchasing one.

  • Rick

    Is that a Southern Fields Industry Tote Bag?

    Props for rocking it!

    • http://well-spent.com Brad

      @Rick – Good eye. It’s one of my favorite bags.

  • Mike

    Brad,

    I appreciate your attempts with both your review and this website, however your efforts are thin.

    You say that the fabric is “good weight, breathable and truly waterproof,” but you fail to mention the fabric’s composition and the details of its qualities. Yes, I visit the American Trench website and learn that the H2O Protector fabric by Olmetex of Italy is made of long staple Egyptian cotton fibers that are densely woven together, and finished with a DWR treatment. But you need to go further. Tell me about the fabric’s WWII origins. Inform me that there are few jackets made in the US with this type of fabric (Outlier uses Supermarine in its jackets and shirts; Wiggy’s uses Ventile cotton in its Alaska Range Parka). Explain how DWR adds to a fabric’s strength and helps make it water and stain resistant. Your readers want to know why this trench is so expensive – let them know that this fabric is chiefly responsible for the burden.

    I am still not satisfied. I want to know why I should or should not spend nearly thee quarters of a grant on this coat. Tell me how it performs. Wear it in a downpour and under slow, steady rain, take it out on in a blizzard, and on sunny afternoon, expose it to hurricane winds, sprint after a taxi with it, don it on you bike commute, take it for a hike. After all that, come back and answer some questions: Is it truly waterproof? How long does it take to soak through? Once it soaks, how long does it take to dry? Do the seams leak? Is it really breathable? Did it feel clammy in the sun, or when you exercised? Was it windproof? Is the fabric abrasion resistant? Do you see signs of wear? How does the hood function?

    The above questions are only concerned with the outer fabric, but other topics require supplementary details too (talk more about the fit, how the trench moves whilst you wear it, the material used for the buttons, the factory where these coats are made, etc.).

    Please know that my intentions are purely constructive, and are hopefully provide insight to your readers’ curiosities.

    Well, at least one reader.

    Regards,

    Mike

    • http://well-spent.com Brad

      @Mike – I appreciate that you’re attempting to be constructive with your comments, however, calling the entire website “thin” makes it a bit hard to see them as such.

      Honestly, this sounds like an issue of personal preference. The details that you wish I addressed are obviously important to you, but not as much to me.

      What I included in the review is what I personally would want to know were I reading a review on another site.

      Also, I’m not trying to convince anyone to buy this jacket. The post is purely an anecdotal retelling of my experience with it. What’s written is exactly what I would say to a friend if they asked me about it. And if you have an in issue with that, well, maybe we shouldn’t be friends.

  • Sarah

    personally, i’d like to know more about it’s capacity to withstand volcanic lava. or if it can repel the blade of a mugger’s knife. more importantly, what about period stains? will they wash out easily?

    these are everyday circumstances i would expect a dapper trench to live up to.

  • Mike

    Brad,

    I appreciate your reply. I agree, my “thin” comment lacked prudence at best, and was unjust at worst. I also acknowledge that some of my suggestions were a bit extreme and that I listed them partially for affect. But I also view clothing as functional art, like furniture. I want my Panama hat and my linen shirt to protect me from the Austin sun; I want my peacoat and my cardigan to keep me warm during winter in Missoula; I want my trench to protect me from Portland rain, and Boston wind; and I want all of them to look good while they work.

    I’ve been reading Well Spent for some time now. I like its goal of highlighting “honest products.” I used to check in regularly, now I do only on occasion. Perhaps my interests have changed, but I think that mostly I have grown weary of the blog. For me, reading that another item is “painstakingly crafted” in a developed nation or “sustainably made” in a developing country has turned into counting sheep. These phrases are so pervasive they have become diluted. There are a myriad of copycat “craft,” “sustainable,” “artesian,” and “heritage” brands out there – they have nearly gone the way of reality TV (well, not really). What products are unique and what makes them so? It’s just that I have finished reading many Well Spent posts saying to myself “I like it, but come on, Brad et al., give me something more.”

    I understand that Well Spent is your oeuvre, that it is easy for the consumer to to be critical of the creator, that these are solely my opinions, and that you and your readers likely find them disagreeable. However, today, I felt it compulsory to offer my thoughts. Perhaps I was wrong.

    Yours,

    Mike

    • http://well-spent.com Brad

      @Mike – I don’t really know what to tell you.

      This is a website about clothes that are made in the USA (or similar first world / non sweatshop conditions).

      We try to keep the items varied (currently on the home page there are pocket squares made from waxed African fabrics, classic trad oxford shirts and a British-made skate jacket), but also within a certain aesthetic parameter.

      While I agree that the “Heritage” marketing ploy has been done to death, if a brand – heritage or otherwise – makes an attractive, decently priced product in conditions we approve of, then we’ll most likely cover it, because that’s why this site exists – to feature products like those.

      If you’re no longer feeling that concept, then that’s fine. I don’t take it personally.

  • Mike

    @Sarah – I love where you are going, but why should we limit ourselves to blades and blood? Why not a dapper trench that can withstand bullets too?

    Or perhaps, my head is stuck in the box. No, I want a coat laced with photovoltaic cells that can simultaneously charge my iPhone and my Tesla S. I bet an American Trench x Elon Musk collaboration could make it happen.

  • http://daveheal.com Dave

    I will say that I’ve changed my opinion about the coat since the first time you covered it (and I commented somewhat negatively on the price).

    I’m not immediately in the market for something quite this expensive, but I can imagine buying it before next fall, or if I end up having to travel to SF/Seattle with any frequency. Agreed on not being wild about the lining pattern but also not really caring much. Thanks for the review, Brad.

  • Michael

    Are those Chromexcel Indy’s ?
    They look quite nice.

    • http://well-spent.com Brad

      @Michael – Yes they are, and thanks!

  • Paul

    @Mike. Get a grip, man; turn down the condesension. Send them an email before submitting an essay on why your tastes are better than this site. That way they can roll their eyes and press delete after they respond with a nice brush-off. You’re right: I’m a reader uninterested in the type of review you wish to see. I don’t want to read a full on review about a product. If I have further questions about performance, etc., I contact the companies/manufacturers directly. I don’t like everything reviewed here, I roll my eyes on occasion, but for the most part I enjoy checking in from time to time to see what’s featured. This site usually brings products that I’ve missed onto my radar, and from there I can choose how much more info I’d like to gather.

  • Utne

    To be fair, ‘obtainable’ is right there in the site’s description. Now, for the type of budget that can absorb a $700+ two-season trench, I agree that this seems like a perfectly fine option. But then, that kind of option has always been there for people who can pay enough. What’s interesting to me about men’s fashion today is that there all these other options for guys who don’t have an investment banker’s salary, but still want to make responsible buying decisions and look good while doing so.

    A good-looking, responsibly made coat for almost a grand just doesn’t impress me as much as a good-looking, responsibly made coat for $300. The former is business as usual, but the latter implies a good bit of cleverness and is a sign of an ongoing change in men’s fashion.

    Anyway, just my opinion and I still think well-spent is the tops, and still the first place I direct my friends when they say that their girlfriends want them to dress more like me.

  • James

    I fear Mike is correct.

    I need to know if this trench sings of sorrow, or whether it knows only of light? Is its blue the blue of elf-light in the gloaming or the blue of dormant sound? (Hint: it needs to be both).

    Do its pockets sweep? Can they? Should they?

    Questions remain.

  • Sam

    @Paul-Really, you’re gonna ask the manufacturer if its product performs well? Hmm…I wonder how it would respond.

    @Utne-I completely agree: handsome+responsibly made+reasonably priced=true ingenuity

  • Anne Purnell

    I liked that these guys had a mission to bring manufactung back to America… ! My dad brought the article to my attention–Would love to make some connection based on our mutual goal- we have three brands of athletic apparel/ customizable jackets, etc, warmups worn by national Champ wrestling team Oklahoma state and the Coach if the Year, John Smith – all made right here in Reading, PA. We r big on Made in USA and have worked hard at hard times to keep the people employed- it’s not easy but we r dedicated to making our garments here… I think in terms of joint ventures, unusual promotional combinations, PR opportunities that drive interest because they are random… And you guys took the shot! We know what that’s like…and wish you well in your endeavor to have the manufacturing done here

  • Mr. S

    I recently purchased one of these trench coats from the product’s first run on sale for around $500. I am very satisfied with the purchase. The jacket has kept me dry on some very wet days. Water just beads up on the surface of the fabric and doesn’t soak through. I agree with Nick’s criticisms about the interior pattern and the collar sitting a bit high. But these are minor hang ups for me. I should also mention that the customer service is stellar. I received a pair of free socks because the coat shipped late — even though I think it shipped only two days after I placed the order! I’m not sure if I’d pay $725, but the coat was easily worth the $500.