I can pinpoint exactly when padded coats became a desirable item for the fashion crowd. It was March 2016 during Demna Gvasalia's first Balenciaga collection. He had just become the creative director of the fashion house and was very specific about what our autumn/winter wardrobes would look like: structured hourglass blazers, bold patterns and padded coats. No longer reserved for the likes of ramblers and extreme sports enthusiasts, Gvasalia's red puffer jacket worn off the shoulder over the top of a bejewelled bodysuit with black jeans and gemstone-encrusted heels proved this item's sudden fabulousness. Across the high street and luxury fashion houses, designers scrambled to create a similar look—such was this garment's influence.
Balenciaga A/W 16 runway
Since then, padded coats have continued to be an autumn/winter mainstay for the street style crowd, Instagram influencers and Gen Z alike. The North Face puffer jackets, both brand new and resale, constantly sell out. Arket's foot-length padded coat is a high-street winner and is spotted by Who What Wear editors all the time during the colder months. For Daniel Lee's new vision of Bottega Veneta, his 2019 autumn/winter collection included a chic, more minimalist version of the padded coat. And over at Prada for the same season, puffer jackets came in the silhouette of a blazer.
Bottega Veneta A/W 19 runway
This piece has cemented itself as a real fashion crown pleaser, and due to the pandemic, it's also become a wardrobe necessity. As for this season's autumn/winter 2021 padded coats, there are plenty of versions to choose from thanks to this item's ubiquitousness. Across the board, colours are more muted—no bold Balenciaga reds this season. However, if you're looking for more than just black, Dodo Bar Or's light-mustard belted version looks cool when paired with bright colours underneath, and Ottolinger's ochre knee-length coat is ideal for wrapping up in freezing weather. I'm also heavily invested in the cropped Isabel Marant version that comes in a chic cream.
Emili Sindlev wearing a Prada puffer coat
While autumn might feel a while away, the good news is that you can already get your hands on quite a few padded coats if you're thinking about how to stay warm but chic on long walks. Below, you can see how major fashion houses have done the puffer this year, then keep scrolling to shop our edit of the best padded coats so far.
Photo:Courtesy of Ottolinger
Ottolinger A/W 21 runway
Photo:Courtesy of Dodo Bar Or
Dodo Bar Or A/W 21 runway
Photo:Courtesy of Jason Wu
Jason Wu A/W 21 runway
Photo:Courtesy of Isabel Marant
Isabel Marant A/W 21 runway
Photo:Courtesy of Remain
Remain A/W 21 runway