December 2 , 1914: Duluth Mackinaws predicted to become “standard fashion” for men’s overcoats

On this day in Duluth in 1914, a salesman for the Remington Typewriter Company visiting from New York City told Duluth newspapers that “there is a movement on foot among clothing manufacturers to make the mackinaw the standard of fashion in mens’s overcoats, and this would put Duluth in position of setting the fashion in men’s overcoats for the nation.” The mackinaw, named for Michigan’s straits of Mackinac, is a heavy and waterproof wool jacket dating back to the early nineteenth century, but popularized in the early twentieth by Duluth’s Patrick Woolen Mills, who began manufacturing the coats for lumberjacks. In an effort to increase sales as logging moved out of the upper midwest and headed for the Pacific Northwest, mill owner F. A. Patrick brought the garment to a wider audience with the help of salesman Harry Harrington. In march Harrington and Patrick announced that each member of baseball’s New York Giants would be wearing a custom-made Patrick Mackinaw during the 1914 season, a tradition started three years earlier. That October Harrington headed to Europe, where the war was creating demand: most men who worked in clothing mills were fighting in the war, and so supplies were low. Patrick already had an order for one million woolen blankets, and Harrington was heading to Europe to secure contract for millions of wool socks, sweaters, and mackinaw coats. Though the company did not say which nation’s armies wanted to add the mackinaw to their soldier’s uniforms, it did explain why the coats were so popular: “Its warmth, powers to shed rain or protect a reclining soldier from dampness, the short length and its wearing qualities would make it suitable for any of the soldiers now in the European campaigns and about to enter winter.” The style remained popular, and the marketing effort continued. The legendary Duluth Eskimos were outfitted with custom Patrick Mackinaws for their epic 1926–27 barnstorming season, and one of those jackets in now enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame. Read more about other lost Duluth businesses here.

A drawing of F. A. Patrick’s Mackinaw coat from its 1909 catalog. (Image: Duluth Public Library)