How a simple gilet became the country uniform of young, old and in-between. The must-have item if you want to be part of the tribe.
It all starts with an acquisitive glance. A flicker up. A flicker down. Registering the look, the feel and what it all says.
Then it progresses to questioning, ‘Where did you get it?’, ‘What colour is yours?’ You may even indulge in actual touching. Quietly, privately just to feel how soft the fleece really is. But you need to be careful to give the impression that none of this – the questions, the touching – matter, because you don’t want to end up facing any awkward questions yourself. Questions like ‘Don’t you have one?’
Before you know it, you’re back in your tiny room in Halls doing some late night browsing. Lingering over shots of the different colours. Navy is the best. But Kingfisher is new. People might not have seen it before. They might not know what it is and have to ask you.
You imagine being asked what the colour is……by the pretty blonde who wears the raspberry Lyndon. ‘It’s Kingfisherl’ you’ll say, casually stroking the alcantara trim. Then it all becomes a bit blurry…..
……perhaps you’ll ask for one for your birthday. Christmas maybe. Or you could use some of that money you made during harvest. You can’t spend it all on books, how many copies of The Biology of Soil do you really need?
The mouse hovers over the Add to Basket button. And you’ve done it. Click. Click. Click. You’ve joined the tribe.
This is how a trend becomes a phenomenon.
And it’s not just agricultural students sporting the Oakham like a badge of belonging. Not by a long chalk. This is a cross-gender, cross-generational phenomenon.
In homes all over the country scenes like, or similar to this are playing out, as more and more people succumb to the charms of the Oakham gilet and its feminine counterpart the Lyndon.
On shoots and beats everywhere men of all ages are sizing each other up, boasting and bragging about their Oakhams. There are definite points to be scored for having got in early, ‘Of course I got mine long before it became a thing.’
Whilst everyone is very happy to be identified as part of the tribe, nobody is keen to admit they bought their Oakham in order to be part of the tribe.
The Birthday Oakham
One way of avoiding this accusation is to receive your Oakham as gift. If you are gifted an Oakham you can easily rebut the suggestion that you got it just to fit in. It allows you to get away with the face saving: ‘My Mum/Wife bought it for me. I would never have bought one because everyone has them.’
It also leaves room for the follow up. ‘Now I have one it’s never off my back. It’s just so warm and so comfortable.’
The Secret Lyndon Wearer
Which brings us to the Secret Oakham Wearer, or in this case the Secret Lyndon Wearer. To protect anonymity we won’t use any names but we would like to share the story of what we believe is an important part of the Schoffel gilet phenomenon.
Let’s just say, there’s a rather well-dressed and glamorous young woman close to the A Hume stable who vowed she would never, ever buy a Lyndon gilet.
We believe, she’s not alone. That there are lots of young women like her who admire the success of the Oakham/Lyndon thing. Who understand and respect that wearing one has become shorthand for saying, ‘I am country. I shoot. I fish. I am someone you can trust and talk to.’ This is in fact exactly who she is too. But they’re just not for her. Fair enough…..she didn’t want to be part of the flock.
Until….she was gifted a Lyndon by the Oakham wearing man in her life. (Feel free to chuckle – we did!) Now ask her how she feels about her Lyndon – it’s the denim by the way – and you’ll get something like this:
‘Well, I wear it as a purely utility piece. I live in a big, cold house with ropey central heating – if I’m even allowed to put it on – and it’s just really cosy. It’s that extra layer I barely even notice I’m wearing. I can still do all the chores and things I need to do. And it has these huge pockets. It’s amazing what I keep in them; secateurs, gloves, dog leads.
‘I love it. But I’d never wear it out socially. None of my friends even know I have a Lyndon…I can’t tell them….imagine?. No, it’s my dirty, guilty pleasure. Me and my Lyndon.’
Hilarious. Who knew a piece of fleecy kit, with zips and couple of pockets could inspire such strong emotion.
Then again, it’s all part of the phenomenon. The reason the Oakham has become such a success is because it means so much to so many people. It is the country life jacket, or indeed the country lifejacket and if you’ve bought into this trend you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.