Our latest adventure: the new Levison Wood jacket
Josh Sims discovers Belstaff's new jacket crafted in tribute to and collaboration with adventurer and explorer Levison Wood.
Creating a jacket for functionality is regularly something of a let down for the designer – it's all too often worn for fashion. Which has its place, of course, but walking the length of the Nile is probably not it. At least, it wasn't at the front of the mind of Levison Wood, the soldier-turned-adventurer. In his gap year, he hitchhiked from England to India, but in 2014, he made his name in explorer circles by following the 4,000 mile route through north Africa of the world's longest river. On foot, by the way, with the occasional swim, avoiding the crocodiles.
Wood might once have claimed that the most important piece of kit he had on this arduous trek was a packet of cigarettes: he doesn't smoke, but found offering one was the fastest way to make friends with most gruff gunmen. 'When you have an AK47 to the back of your head, a cigarette can go a long way to breaking the ice and saving your life,' he notes. But it also taught him what an adventure really does (and doesn’t) require in terms of clothing. That's why he has teamed up with Belstaff to design a jacket that will take his first name.
The Levison is an all-cotton jacket with a special resin finish that keeps it water-resistant while wicking away moisture. Perfect for challenging environments that are often about diverse, rather than extreme, climates – sweltering one minute, pouring down and nippy the next. Snap fastenings at the cuffs and over the zip keep the wind out, while four simple chest pockets give plenty of storage, angled for easier access.
Wood and Belstaff first created a version of this jacket, a coated linen piece, for a 1,700-mile Himalayan trek. The latest Levison (launching in June) is again the product of experience, both in the wilds and the design studio. Many of the decisions that resulted in the new Levison's details were inspired by Wood's latest trip, an 1,800-mile journey from Mexico to Colombia – via six other countries. The Levison jacket is close to Wood's heart for another reason too: his personal hero, TE Lawrence – aka Lawrence of Arabia – also wore clothing made for him by Belstaff.