New-look safari jackets for men

Fresh takes on classic safari-wear bring can-do cool to city streets, says Tom Stubbs

Belstaff cotton and suede motorbike jacket, £1,250
Belstaff cotton and suede motorbike jacket, £1,250

I’m about to embark on a trip to Morocco, starting from Essaouira on the coast, from where I plan to transfer by grand taxi to the blue-painted city of Chefchaouen in the Rif Mountains and finally, by bus, to medieval Fez. So while I’m unlikely to be trekking solo across the plains, this season’s fresh take on safari-style jackets feels appropriate. This latest reworking of a classic creates a rugged, can-do action look with military heritage, but remains smart and presentable whether hiking through vast open spaces or pounding dusty city streets. Practical pockets abound, just asking to be crammed with phone, wallet, sunglasses and SPF 30.

Bottega Veneta gabardine, shearling and corduroy jacket, £1,365
Bottega Veneta gabardine, shearling and corduroy jacket, £1,365
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Key pieces are field jackets with patch pockets and epaulettes, and Coach does these with flair, taking the classic M65 military jacket and reworking it into a colour-blocked version (£750) in ochre, sand and olive, set off by robust zips and leather and suede trims. Bottega Veneta also has a panelled style but projects a more sophisticated image, with less rugged detailing. Other cool-looking safari-inspired designs include a restyled gabardine jacket (£1,365) in a pale greyish hue with shearling and corduroy panels for pocket-flaps and cuffs, and an easy-luxe version of a safari shirt (£420) in soft cotton with short sleeves, squared-off pockets and epaulettes.

Balmain cotton shirt jacket, £2,173
Balmain cotton shirt jacket, £2,173
Universal Works nylon bomber jacket, £185
Universal Works nylon bomber jacket, £185

I’m particularly excited by how utilitarian brand Universal Works has treated this look, keeping the dusty colour palette of a safari jacket but using fresh shapes. The knockout piece is an aviation-inspired bomber jacket (£185) in camel, with cream lining. The elastic cuffs, collar and zipped arm-pockets match the classic 1950s MA1-style flight jacket, but the cut is slimmer and the hem has a non-traditional drawstring. Also in this palette, the label’s rich ochre-coloured nylon Idra Labour jacket (£175) is made instantly more hip by its reduced length, giving a boxier fit.

Loewe linen biker jacket, £1,450
Loewe linen biker jacket, £1,450 | Image: George Ong
Lou Dalton cotton shirt, £205
Lou Dalton cotton shirt, £205

A desert runway theme dominates at Balmain, where ripcords, D-ring belts and straps are recurring motifs. Stylish renditions include a pale sand-coloured cotton field jacket (£2,170) with calfskin D-ring strap details and an ochre cotton shirt jacket (£2,173) featuring D-rings, epaulettes and an unusual kimono-style collar.

Z Zegna linen shorts, £170
Z Zegna linen shorts, £170
Coach cotton and suede jacket, £750
Coach cotton and suede jacket, £750

Moving even further from safari-jacket style but keeping with the colour theme, Loewe’s biker jacket (£1,450) in pale linen creates a svelte profile compared with the usual leather; in the same vein is Balmain’s biker (£1,165) in beige cotton. Belstaff’s motorsport-inspired trousers (£295) in cream are quite fitted and feature pockets and knee panels, pairing well with its sand-coloured motorbike jackets – one (£1,250) with suede trim pockets and a hood, another in goatskin (£1,995). Mr Porter also carries a very fine suede Belstaff biker (£1,350) in off-white, while at Kenzo a sand-coloured emerised cupro parka (£800) – with matching trousers (£385) – has a military-style four-pocket arrangement.

Kenzo emerised cupro parka, £800
Kenzo emerised cupro parka, £800 | Image: George Ong
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Safari-style shorts receive fresh treatment too: Anderson & Sheppard has a razor-pleated pair (£195) in cream or brown; Z Zegna’s double-pleated numbers (£170) are in soft, faded linen that feels as if it’s been laundered many times. And Lou Dalton’s (£162) have cargo pant-style exterior pockets structured to create a clever layering effect and work well with the designer’s utilitarian pocket shirts (£205) in stone.

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