An Outsiders Insider Favourite...
'90s - '00s
Launched sometime in the mid '90s, and in production through until the early '00s, Patagonia’s Puffballs – the Pullover and the Vest – might not be the brand's most famous vintage pieces, but they’re firm favourites at Outsiders HQ, so we thought we’d share a little on them here.
The Fall 1998 catalogue seems like a good placeto start:
“First rule of Puffballs: Never travel to a cold place without one. Second rule of Puffballs: There are no more rules.
Wear them over Capilene® on mild days or over fleece on cooler ones. Layer the Vest under the Pullover. The highly compressible Puffballs have slick 1.3-oz., 30-denier ripstop nylon shells and linings that move freely over layers and under shells. These wind-resistant shells have a DWR (durable water repellent) finish, which makes them suitable for days of blustery winds or light precipitation. Unlike down, the Puffballs' synthetic insulation will keep you warm even after getting soaked. Puffballs eat themselves by compressing into their own pocket”
Perfect over layers. Perfect under shells. Packable. Warm. Bright colours. Dark Colours. Relaxed Fit. Branded woven zip pulls. No other branding. Bound hem’s. Contrast linings. It’s almost as though they’ve been boiled down to a list of some of our favourite design features, with nothing extra added…
Here we see Yvon Chouinard himself wearing a Puffball in the field, on separate occasions with Fred Beckey and Doug Tompkins (no Puffball, but shout out to Doug’s outfit).
You don’t just have to take our word for it though – another way to measure the quality of a design is whether it’s been copied. Designer’s dig for inspiration all over, and a lesser known or underappreciated gem from the archives is a perfect starting point. There’s a Moonstone version from back when the Puffball was in production (who copied who though???) but then versions coming from Japan – the true home of vintage Patagonia appreciation – that wouldn’t deny the link in any way.
We even recall Adsum – denizens of referencing 90s outdoors design details – doing a version a few years ago… but can’t track any pictures down. Maybe it was sampled but not produced…
Puffball inspired designs from the fashion arm of Japan’s DAIWA, makers of fishing gear:
A tribute redesign from Bamboo Shoots of Tokyo:
It’s hard to know what makes a classic – and sometimes you can’t call it until you wear it. That jacket you’ve wanted for ages maybe isn’t all that once you have it, but something you picked up second hand or in sale or whatever, without expecting it ot, falls into place as your most worn bit of kit… it just kind of feels right. For some reason, over time, everyone here at Outsiders HQ has ended up feeling that the Puffball is one of those things that just feels right.
Good luck finding one…