This is a review of a special jacket that not only features in one spy franchise but two! Yes, we are looking at the John Varvatos suede racer jacket in midnight blue that was featured in Spectre and Mission Impossible: Fallout, and examining what is it about this jacket that it features in these two films.
The jacket fabric is goat suede which makes it light and thin, breathable, and durable, which are all pluses. Certainly you can wear this jacket from late Spring all the way through summer into early autumn. The feel / hand of the fabric is very soft, and it has a certain “stroke-ability” desire. I remember a colleague who just brushed passed the jacket on the back of my chair just, she literally stopped in her tracks and was just amazed at how soft the fabric was and was really surprised that this was a suede jacket.
There are some other amazing features which I will go into in the article, but the thing about this jacket is its versatility in that it can be worn casually, and it will look smart if you’re wearing shirt and trousers. AND the “marine” navy blue colour makes it so easy to wear with dark jeans or trousers.
Out of jackets…
When the John Varvatos jacket was identified by a member on AJB007 (Simon Ruzgar), there was a rush to get the jacket in 2015. I was able to get a small size from another collector, and even with a small the sleeves were about an inch and half too big, so I went to visit the John Varvatos store in London, which coincidently was the former Belstaff store before they moved to New Bond Street.
The store at the time was an experience, live music, and a great staff experience. I was told that the production team took most of the supply of the jackets as it does feature in quite a few stunts, and was told that I was very fortunate to have this jacket. They were equally brilliant in getting the sleeves shortened and were super helpful.
Details, details, details…
What can I say about these zips, not only are they functional, but the design on the zip closure includes the JXV logo. On the sleeves, the colour of the stitching is a slightly lighter shade of blue and this contrast is really nice when compared with the navy colour of the suede.
Interesting fact, for Mission Impossible: Fallout, the sleeve zips were removed for safety reasons, as Tom was climbing on the side of a mountain. They did the same with the Belstaff Ethan jacket in Mission Impossible III.
One thing that is striking is the stitching on the jacket, on the front of the jacket there is a lovely vertical x stitching darting on the front and the same stitching type runs down the back of the jacket.
There are two exterior pockets which are quite generous. However, my only complaint is that the pockets should have zips, but apart from that they are very useful. There is one interior pocket that is fastened by a zip.
The jacket is a fitted jacket, but you don’t have to be that slim to wear this jacket, and this is a comfortable jacket.
The interior lining is really nice, it is a navy satin with the John Varvatos logo in a bronze colour, and the contrast is very nice and subtle. The lining on the sleeves is more of a striped pattern of blue and red and white and it provides a nice contrast to the main lining of the jacket.
Did you say helicopter? What the hell are you doing in a helicopter?
One of the things that makes this jacket so amazing is that it has been worn by James Bond in Spectre, and by Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible: Fallout, and in both scenes it involved our protagonists involving helicopters. Another coincidence is that both Bond and Hunt were sporting dark turtleneck jumpers along with their jackets. In a way this similarity could be seen as the uniform for an international master spy for the mid 2010’s.
There is something about suede, and the feel / hand of this suede is amazing, and the lightness of the fabric is something else, it makes this jacket easy to wear but also easy to bring along on a journey, whilst light it makes it really comfortable to wear for late spring, summer, and early winter. The colour as well is not completely black, and the dark navy makes it more adaptable to wear with dark jeans.
The third man?
So, I did title this article as one jacket, two spies, but in fact there is a third appearance of this jacket on film. Matt Damon wore a dark brown version of this jacket in The Martian, he wore it near the end of the film. So, we have Daniel Craig (Bond), Tom Cruise (Hunt), and Matt Damon (Bourne) all wearing this jacket on film, and as such it just adds star appeal to this jacket.
I really like this jacket, it is so easy to wear and it has a good look to it, it is flexible and really looks good. The jacket harkens back to the 60’s spy style of suede jackets and turtleneck jumpers, and whilst there are some comparisons with Archer and others, Bond definitely looks cool in his tactical turtleneck as does Hunt when commandeering a helicopter in mid-flight. Overall, this is just a cool looking jacket that will be in fashion, and perfect to go with any casual outfit.
The jacket is not currently available, but there are variations available online.
(Steve Wiss) Peter, the jacket at the end of The Martian is the Split Seam Jacket in a brown called Soil. It’s from the John Varvatos Mainline as opposed to the Racer Jacket which is from the more affordable John Varvatos Star USA line. The Split Seam Jacket was copied by the Spectre costume designer in a lighter colour for the Spectre Morocco suede jacket. The Martian Jacket is rarer than hens’ teeth. It took me 4 years to find mine.
(David Head) The Mission Impossible jacket is slightly different. It has a midnight versus marine colour (very hard to spot) and it also has suede on the inside lapel versus the Bond one which is cotton. The Mission Impossible one was a few hundred pounds more. I own both jackets as I love it so much. I actually nabbed the Mission Impossible one from the London store that they were holding for paramount but they never collected!
(Steve Wiss) Thank you for the explanation of the differences between the Spectre and MI: Fallout jackets. While I was aware of the colour difference I did not know the interior fabric by the pocket was suede in the later release. In the US the retail price of the MI jacket was only $100 higher than the Spectre. Congrats on having both. (By Steve Wiss)
(David Head) The model number is very slightly different by one letter too. My MI jacket is a size medium and I had to get it taken in at the shop. The Bond is a small and overall fits better – was very snug when I got it but broke in well.
Quick note on a location that’s fun to find in London. The foot chase that occurs starts down a back alley near St Paul’s Cathedral called Canon Street (above). You’ll recognise the cafe in the background called Artigiano. Although the sign has changed.
The Mission Impossible box set is available to buy on Blu Ray. (In my collection).