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The introduction of business casual into the workplace has been a double-edged sword. While removing the stuffy, Mad Men-era of suiting was long overdue, the move towards a democratized office style also gave rise to the single greatest blight on workforce wear: the “tech vest.”
For the blissfully uninitiated, the tech vest is simply a vest — down or fleece, although most are the latter — adorned with the corporate logos alongside the brand that made it. While not all tech vests are Patagonia, the California brand’s Synchilla fleece is ubiquitous. Perhaps that omnipresence is why the brand eventually slowed its roll: In 2019, Patagonia stated the company would no longer work with corporate clients not in line with their “shared values.” Two years later, it declared an end to “its decades-old practice of adding corporate logos to its clothing.” Of course, the tech vest persists. The Paramount shop once sold an Axe Capital-emblazed tech vest for the Showtime series Billions. HBO just put up Waystar-branded fleeces in its store.
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There is, of course, a reason vests are so popular. They’re a versatile layering tool that provides warmth without you getting overheated. That functionality is helpful in, say, an office environment, where A/C temperatures can wildly fluctuate.
We are, however, offering some recommendations to help you take a much-needed break from your tech vest and invest (heh) in something else. To make some informed choices, we reached out to Luke McAlpine, Taylor Stitch’s senior brand marketing director. The San Francisco-based brand is here with five suggestions for a better, less corporate vest.
“Our Workhorse Vest is great because it’s super rugged thanks to the hemp-based Boss Duck canvas fabric,” McAlpine says. “You can really put it through the wringer, and it just gets better with each wear.” Canvas is often a foundational element of camping supplies because it’s water-resistant and highly durable. The more you wear it, the better it’ll look. Plus, the dark hue pairs well with just about everything.
This nylon vest from Todd Snyder feels incredibly retro in its design, thanks in part to the exterior quilting. “I really appreciate the versatility,” McAlpine says. “It’s a classic, utilitarian piece that can be layered with a heavier outerwear piece for extra warmth, while also looking great on its own.” That shade of green is also very much of the moment.
A stalwart of Savile Row tailoring, Drake’s makes some of the best clothing around. The attention to detail and craft is apparent in their quilted vest. “It’s versatile, but the added recycled wool fill is a nice detail, and I love the snap pockets,” McAlpine says. The contrasting detailing on the pockets and placket elevate an ordinary piece into something a cut above. The double zip allows for some fun styling options, and the V-neck cut will frame your neckline nicely.
Crescent Down Works’ North by Northwest Vest (try saying that three times fast) works well “for cooler temps” as it’s “a classic overbuilt, overstuffed puffer.” The story with CDW is notable, too, as it began in 1974 as a custom-order business helmed by Anne Michelson, who used to work for Eddie Bauer. In short: her bonafides are legit.
McAlpine’s final recommendation is “a tried-and-true, no-frills, well-made” option from Filson. The heritage brand makes a lot of great luggage but also knows how to execute great clothing, too. The vibrant orange might not be for the faint of heart, but it’ll make quite a statement if you want to try it.
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