Product Review: Private White V.C. Twin Track Jacket

I like to think of myself as pretty ahead of the curve when it comes to menswear brands. I go to trade shows, read the right forums and blogs, and try my best to stay on top of what’s what in classic menswear. Even so, sometimes I completely miss something great and am blindsided when I learn about it. Most recently, the brand that caught me off guard was Private White VC.

Private White VC (PWVC) is a Manchester-based brand that is both new and old at the same time- the company launched in 2011, but their factory has been around for over 100 years and is run by Private Jack White’s grandson, James Eden. Over the past century of operation, the factory produced private-label garments for many prominent British brands, but recently decided to launch their own line instead to showcase their own history.

The thing that impresses me most with PWVC (beyond their strong history and dedication to UK-based materials and manufacture) is the textiles and hardware they source for their garments. After viewing their collection at shows earlier this year it was clear to me that they took great pride in the components that went into their products. For example, I don’t think I’ve ever been as surprised by a fabric as I was when they introduced me to Ventile (another prominent British textile). The cotton-based fabric is dense but somehow also breathable, so much so that you can blow right through it without the fabric hardly fluttering. But when water is poured on to it, it beads up and rolls right off. I’m not totally sure how this black magic fabric works, but I’m certainly impressed.

The brand’s current lineup is robust, with outerwear being the core component. I was immediately drawn to the Twin Track 2.0, a moto-style jacket that is made up in a variety of fabrics depending on the season. I initially grabbed the spring/summer nylon version, but ultimately decided on the heartier waxed canvas one in olive green. After all, this is British outerwear in its truest form so if I’m gonna drop the cash for something on this level I might as well go all-in.

First off, the waxed cotton on this jacket is different than what most of us think of when we imagine it. Most of the waxed cotton that I’ve encountered has the wax applied directly to the finished cotton fabric, creating a hearty and stiff product. Although I can’t be completely sure, I am quite confident that this waxed cotton is instead made of yarns that are waxed before the cotton is woven together. No matter what, the result is a lighter, softer and more flexible textile compared to what you’d normally see, while retaining the same water resistance the fabric became known for. The waxed cotton comes from British Millerian, a storied company that has been producing it in the UK since 1880. Out of the box the fabric had a slightly oily touch that left a bit of residue on my hands, but that quickly subsided after a few wears.

Best of all, though, is the fact that PWVC didn’t relax their high standards for the trims – the military-grade copper hardware from RIRI is truly impressive stuff, and is what really takes this product (and other similar PWVC offerings) to the next level. These are truly the toughest zippers I’ve ever handled, and they look right at home on the jacket. The snap buttons are monstrous and have a great ‘click’, and the buckle is just badass. Right out of the box the copper is bright and polished, giving it an almost rose-gold appearance, but this begins to fade quickly as the jacket is worn and the high shine gives way to a deeper and duller patina.  Like the waxed cotton shell, the hardware is already looking and feeling better with each wear.

Beyond the obvious copper hardware and waxed cotton are a few other special materials – the collar and cuffs are both lined with a soft brown suede, and the collar band has a matching corduroy liner. Lastly, the jacket body (and some pockets) are lined with a super-soft brushed cotton – when I first tried the jacket on I swore the lining was wool and had to check and see what it actually was made from. In short, if you geek out about materials like I do, you’ll like the products that PWVC is pumping out. I don’t think there’s really any need for improvement on the materials used in this jacket.

The design is clearly inspired by the classic British motorcycle jackets like the Belstaff Roadmaster – four pockets (one tilted for easy access while biking), an adjustable belt, waxed cotton shell, and so forth. With that said, PWVC has some design changes that make me prefer it to some of its predecessors. The most notable change is the dual-sizing feature that gives the Twin Track its name – there’s a 6cm center piece that can be added in for additional room when wearing a heavy sweater. For me, the jacket fits slim but functional without the extra piece and more classically fitting with it inserted (but remember that the additional piece won’t give you any more space in the shoulders). I think I will be wearing mine without the double zip most of the time, but I do like having the option of adding it in.

All the front pockets have flaps and snaps as well as an interior envelope-fold that’s hard to describe (picture a paper lunch bag with the top folded over), resulting in pockets that are great at keeping contents dry. Moreover, the bottom two have lined side-entry pockets behind them so that you don’t end up doing the infuriating pocket-hand dance (I basically can’t wear jackets without side-entry pockets for this reason). Add in the adjustable belt and zippered cuffs and the end result is a highly adaptable and highly functional piece of outerwear. Finally, the suede collar has enough stiffness to be folded up, down or any way in between, depending on your mood. It’s pretty unlikely that I’ll ever be on a motorcycle (I’ll leave that to my friend Paul, who looks awesome in his Twin Track), but if I do I’ll definitely wear this for the added cool points.

As for fit, PWVC has a slightly different sizing rubric that’s pretty simple to decipher. Their outerwear is sized from 2 – 7, which correlates to XS – XXL. So basically, a 3 is a small, 4 is medium, and so forth. I found this particular piece to fit quite true-to-size – I have a 37″-ish chest and almost always wear a small in alpha-sized tops, and a PWVC 3 fits well here. I’d say a 3 is the right call for someone with a 36-38″ chest, a 4 would be good for a 38-40″ chest, and so forth. The PWVC site also has fairly extensive garment measurements, which are helpful as well. If you are on the shorter side for your chest size it may be possible to size down as the sleeves and body are a touch on the long side (which works for me since I have monkey arms), but I think most will be fine staying with their normal size.

The Twin Track retails for 595 pounds (about 740 USD at time of writing), but after deducting VAT and using PWVC10 for 10% off, the final cost is about $570 shipped to the US right now. It’s a solid chunk of change (and the most I’ve ever spent on casual outerwear), but I still think this piece manages to be a compelling buy and is a better value than most outerwear around that price. Given the UK provenance, exceptional material and build quality, and attractive and functional design, it’s a great piece from a brand that I’ll certainly be paying much better attention to from now on.