Jack Brezina: Forever (Haliburton) Plaid
|By Jack Brezina - Contributing Writer | February 22, 2018|
We know it locally as the Haliburton Dinner Jacket or, in its more formal presentation, the Haliburton Tuxedo. Everyone knows what I am referring to. Even national hockey commentator Ron MacLean, a man who knows fancy dressers up close, acknowledged the importance of this piece of sartorial splendor during his Haliburton visit on the cross-Canada Hometown Hockey tour.
Known formally as Buffalo Plaid, the red and black checkered wool jacket first made its appearance as a fashion statement for lumberjacks.That’s right, the burly men of the forest kept warm and dry wearing jackets with the buffalo plaid design. The Woolrich Woolen Mills in Maine claims to be the first to have created this familiar pattern, way back in the 1850s. The company still produces the jackets, making it the oldest operating woolen mill in the United States.
The origin notwithstanding, the lumberjack jacket is an iconic piece of Canadian fashion. As Canadian as a toque/tuque or a green red, yellow and black striped Hudson’s Bay blanket, the red and black buffalo plaid has long been associated with our Canadian wilderness. Woodsmen, campers, bird watchers, anyone with a smidgen of Canadian pride knows that the lumberjack jacket sets one apart in the bush ... up until now.
According to my sources, who are well connected with the fashion houses of Milan, Italy, the buffalo plaid has made an appearance on the runways where the styles of 2018-19 winter were being previewed. One fashion commentator noted in part: “Oh, the comfort! Designer Tomas Maier melded references from the great outdoors and the city streets for this laid back collection, which was packed with lumberjack and tartan checks, cashmere, corduroy and gray flannel.” Maier, in case you did not know is, “... a German born
designer who is creative director at the Italian luxury lifestyle brand Bottega Veneta, which is part of Kering.”
Whoa! From backwoods sorties and the formal soirees of Haliburton County to the fashion runways of Milan. Who woulda thunk it!
If you haven’t already, now is the moment to seize your buffalo plaid and step out proudly before some other community claims it. The delicate interweave of black and red is as Haliburton as maple syrup and the Blairhampton Triangle and we must ensure the world knows that. While this may not be where it all started, it is
here, in the throbbing heart of the Canadian wilderness, that buffalo plaid has never gone out of style. That’s right, this is no mere passing fad or cute retro throwback to our forefathers and foremothers. This is a bold and unequivocal statement that the lumberjack jacket (and all its permutations) is ours … wear it proud and wear it loud. No more saving it just for the bush. This is main street wear and yes dinner jacket cool and most assuredly, the tux with the lux.
And while I am not too sure about this cashmere, corduroy and gray flannel diversions mentioned above, don’t stop at just the jacket. I am all for the buffalo plaid Elmer Fudd hat with the ear flaps, the mitts, the throw cushions, seat covers, the tea cozy and the onesie. Strut your stuff Haliburton County residents … let the world know, buffalo, no, make that Haliburton plaid, is what we wear here!
Jack Brezina is a contributing writer for The Highlander.