Take a look around you on any given rainy or blustery day and you’re sure to spot our Coast Waterproof Jacket. Its recognisable styling and distinctive mariner colour has made it one of our best-loved products. We caught up with the jacket’s designer, Katharine Hillier, to get behind the design.
It rains over 100 days a year in beautiful Britain. So rather than bemoan our predictably unpredictable weather, we say embrace it. We’ve made it our mission to create fantastic clothing to enable you to get outdoors whatever the weather. Step forward our much-loved Coast Waterproof Jacket. The work baby of our in-house designer of six years, Katharine Hillier, this trusty staple in our Right As Rain Collection is so popular, it even has its own Twitter account!
We wondered, how does it feel to have made such a splash in the design world with an instantly recognisable jacket? So we caught up with the very talented Katharine over a cuppa (Earl Grey please) on sketching, fabric sourcing and nautical tradition.
“I began life at Joules designing ladies outerwear, jackets and gilets. The range has grown enormously since these early days. It’s been such fun seeing our customers positively respond as we’ve expanded our range. I’m part of a huge team of people, who each play a really important role in developing products, from ideation to the final product you see in store. We’ve grown together over the years into quite a creative force. My role within the team involves researching trends and customer habits, sketching ideas for new products, sourcing fabrics and testing product ideas to make sure we deliver the perfect styles and fits for our customers.”
“The directive came from Tom Joule – he was very keen to offer our customer a waterproof jacket for getting outdoors, regardless of what the weather was doing. Something that was easy for family outings, coastal walks, dashes to the shops and the school run. We looked at the traditional Sou’wester fishermen’s jackets. This helped inspire the original Antique Gold classic colour, coastal labelling and the name too, of course. We knew it had to be waterproof, so we worked hard to source a canvas fabric that could have taped seams. We also wanted it to be affordable and within reach for a busy woman.”
“This was the fun part. We began researching the classic fisherman jacket style. The instantly-recognisable yellow colour was widely used from the 1800s onwards, bright enough to be visible if a sailor should fall overboard. It was also perfect when conditions were foggy and visibility was poor. It’s an abiding style that made the transition from fishing boats and into the wardrobes of the 1920s, with fashion houses of the day developing waterproof fabrics and drawing on styles inspired by the ever-alluring nautical tradition. We combined these ideas with a style we had called the Tisbury and the Coast jacket was born.”
“Firstly, the fabric was tested for waterproof and breathable elements by the fabric technicians. After that it was made into a sample jacket, which is our chance to perfect the style, as well as the performance of the garment. From there, it’s wearer-trialled by several people in the business before launch. This gives us a chance to iron out any problems with fit and function before it’s officially launched. A design snagging list, you could say.”
“I see it all over the UK and am so thrilled that so many holidaying and travelling parents, their daughters and their grandparents wear it. I love that the Coast seems to be multi-generational. It was fun seeing it have it’s moment in the spotlight on TV recently too. The lead character Faith, in the BBC drama ‘Keeping Faith,’ wears a yellow Joules jacket throughout the series. There was quite a lot of buzz about it.”
“I have a passion for fabric, woven and printed textiles which helps inform my design work. It makes it easy to love working for Joules!”
Katharine, Ladieswear Woven Designer, Joules
“We are very careful to tape our seams to make it waterproof. The result is a robust, premium waterproof jacket at an affordable price. It’s lined in a soft stripe print jersey, with a specially developed stripe cord too. These little details make it stand out and let us have fun providing a twist on a classic. It pairs really well with our striped Harbour top, which we considered when we added the stripe lining. The distinctive labelling and swing tags were also designed by our in-house graphics team.”
“We are always looking at ways to improve it. There have been subtle detail changes and slight fit amendments but honestly, we’d struggle to make it better!”
“At the moment I’m researching authentic garments, old English country pursuit clothing, tweed hacking jackets and seafaring sailing styles. We are developing some really interesting new styles, which I’m really excited about. I feel so passionate about bringing new styles to our customer. Joules is a colourful, quality brand and there’s so much we can still do, it makes it exciting to keep working towards this as the business grows! Watch this space…”
Thanks Katharine, for both your time and your talent. You’ll find Katharine’s much-loved Coast Waterproof Jacket and new show-stopping pieces in our autumn/winter collection, which is available both online and in-store now.