If you're fast enough off the mark, tomorrow sees the latest drop of Charlotte Simone's Insta-famous coats, which are arriving just in time for winter. You know the ones: retro in feel, recognisable in their fuzzy collars and cuffs, neat in fit (usually belted) and swishy in their skirts. The British designer's vibrant and joyful outerwear has become the ultimate fashion pick-me-up during dark winter months—or any month in the UK, for that matter—for minimalists and maximalists alike.
I've been a big fan of Simone since she first came onto the scene with her jazzy, furry "Popsicle" scarves. This is a woman who knows how to do fun fashion and help her customers make a statement without trying too hard. While she began in the land of accessories, Simone has since moved on to outerwear and amassed quite the following for it. These coats have travelled far and wide to make photogenic moments happen across the globe, popping up on London It girls like Charli Howard and Mary Charteris and the internet's coolest like @lottaiinlove and @annawinck. As an early adopter of Simone's debut line, I've been watching from a distance and seeing the mentions notch up, and I thought it was about time I tried her latest creations for myself. They didn't disappoint.
"It was in lockdown that my business had to pivot. Overnight, we lost our retail business, and I had to think fast," Simone tells me. "Spending the days re-designing and speaking to customers over our social channels, I learnt that people really loved the 'samples' from our end-of-year sale, and in particular the coats. They loved that the samples were limited edition and exclusive. It made them feel special." She sees now that the pandemic was a silver-lining moment that gave her a chance to pause and reset. Now, Charlotte Simone thrives as a limited-edition drop model, which sets the coats "live" online for only a week. The coats are made in small batches from fabrics that are available or salvaged, which makes each collection not only more unique but ultimately a lot more sustainable and consciously produced, too.
When I ask her why she thinks her styles are so popular, the answer is simple: "Because you've got to get it or regret it! We want people to buy less but better, and we hope a Charlotte Simone coat can be a really considered purchase and a wardrobe staple." Sure, these aren't your classic camel coats, but not everyone views wardrobe staples in the same way. The desire is there because the right aesthetic is, too. Many of us feel a gravitational pull towards the '70s (retail analysts often note how this decade is popular on shop floors, no matter the year or season), and these coats have the look without the difficulty or constraints of the vintage hunt. Additionally, the coats are less bulky than their thrifted counterparts, and as such, I appreciate that you can wear them with layers or during the mid-season months when a full winter coat feels like too much. The overall look, I've come to learn, is inspired by Simone's grandmother, someone whose wardrobe is reportedly "full to the brim with colours, fuzz and feathers." Simone's grandmother continues to be an inspiration as a regular fixture on the brand's Instagram channel, modeling the latest styles with more sass than most of us put together.
I don't think I've ever seen a tartan coat with a fuzzy Mongolian lambswool trim before, and now I simply don't understand why! Jean (that's her name) just works. It has punk feels with a little frou-frou—very London.
I'll be keeping (and wearing) this one forever because everything in my wardrobe goes with tan. This cropped Penny style is actually quite lightweight thanks to the soft faux-suede fabric, which is less bulky than suede.
A vintage-feel, off-white shaggy trim makes it seem authentically old school, like it's been love-worn already. This has seen many outings in the past few weeks, and I've worn it with everything from long dresses to simple denim pairings.