You See This Coat is a deep dive into an exceptional or influential piece of outerwear. From the history behind each design to charting significant or noteworthy evolutions, this series should give a little more context to the iconic coats and jackets that have shifted the modern menswear space.

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Arc'teryx was founded by David Lane, an avid climber and outdoorsman whose passions for outside is shared by many who grew up in the great outdoors of Vancouver, British Columbia, a city nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountain range.

As a testament to the performance-driven mindset of the brand, Arc’teryx often uses abbreviations for garment nomenclature, including product categories like SV (Severe Use), AR (All-Round), MX (Mixed Use), LT (Lightweight), and SL (Super Lightweight).

One of Arc'teryx flagship products, the Alpha SV jacket designed to stand up to the most rigorous conditions—ice climbing. Greg Grenzke, Design Director for Arc’teryx, told Dry Clean Only, “Arc’teryx first launched the Alpha SV jacket in 1998. Over the last 20-plus years we have been continuously improving the SV through construction, fit, materials, and fine-tuning the feature set.

The Alpha SV is designed with a cropped front because it's intended to be worn in tandem with a waist harness. The high-set, mountain-ready pocket layout is not at all intuitive for daily wear. Plus, the jacket's retail price clocks in at around $800 USD. All in all, this is not what you would call an accessible, daily-wear jacket. It's a specialized tool for outdoor conditions.

Season after season, Arc’teryx has made a point of tweaking and updating the SV, sometimes imperceptibly. Proportions, details such as zippers, pockets, seam construction, everything is re-considered from one season to the next, with the ambition of making the Alpha SV into the toughest climbing jacket on the market. The jacket is also known for its unabashedly bright colorways like lime greens, sky blues and burnt oranges, which provide visibility on the mountain. Grenzke explains, “We will always offer the SV in high visibility colors so the user is easier to spot in alpine environments, especially in less-than-ideal weather conditions. This visibility is important when your climbing partners are trying to see you, not to mention if search and rescue teams ever need to find you. The latest SV utilizes RECCO reflector technology to make the user more easily searchable by organized rescue.”

For Fall/Winter 2020, Virgil Abloh dressed the Hadid sisters in deconstructed Alpha SV jackets as part of his Off-White presentation in Paris. As reported by insiders at the time, the pieces were not made in collaboration with Arc’teryx, rather Abloh reportedly acquired the Arc’teryx shells himself and customized them, presenting them as one-of-one art pieces.

While the Arc’teryx Alpha SV has found favor in fashion circles lately, Greg Grenzke iterates that the jacket has always stood for performance-first, “Climbers need something they can rely on, and the Alpha SV is a go-to piece for this reason. Climbers who go on extended expeditions are always counting weight but more importantly they’re in situations where product failure can become fatal.”

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Tags: gore-tex, outerwear, you-see-this-coat, off-white, virgil-abloh, techwear, gorpcore, arcteryx-alpha-sv, arcteryx-veilance, arcteryx