Though it’s the middle of July, it’s time to start seriously thinking about your Fall outerwear. It’s going to rain in just four months or so, and you’ll need some lead-time to prepare. So let’s talk about one of my favorite Italian companies - an under-the-radar outerwear brand that has a cult following among menswear geeks in Europe and Japan: Herno.
Giuseppe Marenzi and his wife, Alessandra Diana, founded Herno in 1948. The company began in Lago d’Orta, just north of Milan, as a raincoat manufacturer for men and women. The goal was the produce fashionable, practical garments. We see some of the company’s early versions of trenches and duffle coats here:
In the 1960s, the brand began making cashmere coats and double-faced jackets. Double-faced fabrics are when two fabrics are entirely connected - both throughout the length and width - to each other through thread loops. When they are used for outerwear, they allow the designer to make the garment fully reversible or to be constructed without facings or interlinings.
It’s around this time that the brand started really making a name for itself throughout Europe. The company’s jackets became quite popular throughout the continent and they started receiving more attention at fashion shows.
In the 1970s, the company began distributing in Japan - a country that has always been one of the early adopters of European fashions. During this time, Herno struck up new distribution deals, presented at Japanese fashion shows, and created marketing campaigns for Asia.
In the 1980s, Herno finally landed in the United States. European companies always try to break into the American market, but it often takes them a bit of time to do so. When they do, however, they’re largely considered to have “made it.” Having arrived in the US, Herno was now considered a serious international brand among fashion industry insiders.
It’s after arriving in the US that Herno began to really build relationships with other companies. During the 1990s, they started to produce outerwear pieces for Jil Sander, Armani, Prada, Hermes, Luis Vuitton, and Ralph Lauren. In fact, many of the designer brands we’ve been going to for outerwear have all been using the same Italian manufacturing house. Many of you probably already own a Herno jacket, or have put one on at some point in your life, and didn’t even know it.
Today, Herno continues to maintain its own collection and still manufactures for many of the big brands around the world. Like many of the other Italian labels I’ve been talking about in this series, the company is also still family owned and operated, and is now run by the third generation of Marenzis.
As you can see from the photos below, the great thing about Herno’s pieces is their fit. The cut is often slim and slightly cropped, which gives their garments a young, modern, stylish look. Additionally, the coats are often lightweight (to be expected at this point from Italian companies), so they’re a bit more comfortable to wear than something from, say, Burberry. The company also works with mills to develop their own “Herno TECH” fabrics, which are weather resistant, padded for warmth, and designed to be very breathable. In sum, the company takes very simple, classic styles and updates them with modern, stylish cuts, then builds it all with exclusive high-tech materials.
Perhaps of interest to readers who bike (ie bicyclists and motorcyclists), Herno also has a line of specially designed jackets just for you. There are two models - the “City and Scooter,” and the “Scooter and Touring.” The City and Scooter is made from a breathable technical fabric, cut trim to keep the fabric from fluttering, and features mobile phone pockets on the forearm and windproof Lycra cuffs. The Scooter and Touring model is a bit more rugged. It features removable elbow pads; airbags at the cervical, lumbar, and sacral regions of the body in case of impact; and harder wearing polyester and corduroy fabrics.
You can find Herno at discounts sites like Yoox (check this page to see all the deals you missed). Prices range between $200 and $500 usually, which isn’t bad for decent outerwear. Barneys also sometimes carries the brand, though they don’t have anything currently. The best stuff, however, is often on Rakuten, or in many high-end Japanese menswear boutiques, such as Guji. Check out all these sites to see if there’s something that you can use this Fall.
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