Crescent Down Works Italian Vest Review

Crescent Down Works x Freeman Quilted Diagonal Italian Vest

A few weeks ago my girlfriend and I had planned a trip up to Yosemite in December for a few days. Both of us have great experiences with Uniqlo’s HEATTECH collection, and they recently even released an Extra Warm HEATTECH. Uniqlo is quite popular for their down jackets and vests among their other casual clothes. Their clothes are so universal that they even have clothing vending machines various locations!

The Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Vest was on sale and I eventually reasoned with myself to purchase one. The design is quite simple and practical – there are two hand warmer pockets in the front that can be zipped to prevent items from falling out. On the interior, there are additional vertical pockets behind the front pockets. A single zipper on the front. The vest doesn’t restrict my arms and it is very lightweight. I went with my standard size of a large at a 43 inch (109 cm) chest. I can roll it into a small cylinder shape the size of maybe two fists and place it into the pouch it additionally comes with. The vest worked great at Yosemite and was warm enough to even wear by itself only!

Design difference between the Crescent Down Works Quilted Italian Vest and Classic Italian Vest

I never was a down outerwear kind of guy, but after my great experience with the Uniqlo one at Yosemite, I decided to look further into another one. I first learned of Crescent Down Works in 2012 visiting Standard & Strange in Oakland, CA. CDW is a small company that produces down outerwear in Seattle, Washington. Not much further away is also Freeman Seattle which makes great raincoats! Seattle (which includes Filson) is definitely prepared for the elements! CDW does a lot of collaborations with other brands such as Freeman, Lost & Found, Brooklyn Clothing, and recently, 3sixteen.

My girlfriend and I mutually decided to buy each other CDW vests as Christmas presents, agreeing on the specs beforehand. AFAIK, CDW makes garments that are unisex so the measurements are what matters most. For mine, I wanted a somewhat neutral color vest with a ribbed collar instead of the standard collar. It’s a nice extra touch that I think makes it stand out from the other down jackets out there.

Ribbed collar and smooth two way zipper (other zip not shown)

Details

  • Water-resistant 60/40 cotton-nylon shell.
  • 100% nylon ribbed collar and streakfree liner.
  • 5.5 oz. premium, 700-fill European goose down.
  • Front placket with two-way zipper and leather-backed snaps.
  • Down-filled front pockets.
  • Elasticized waist.
  • Made in Seattle.
The Classic Italian Vest has an additional inner velcro’d pocket

I ended up purchasing an older stock, unused previous year’s collaboration CDW x Freeman Quilted Down Vest off of eBay. The quilted pattern was used to streamline the bulkier Italian Vest down into a sleeker look. The main difference between the Classic Italian Vest and this Quilted Diagonal Italian Vest is the pattern and how much down is within each stitched area. The quilted design purposely has less fill. The collars are different in that mine has a ribbed collar long enough that folds upon itself once (some versions ribbed but no fold). I haven’t felt any significant difference in warmth regarding the collar types. The ribbed collar does feel cozier on the neck, however. After looking over several online measurements, especially the chest width of 23 inches, I went with my typical size which was a large.

Standard collar on the Crescent Down Works Classic Italian Vest

My girlfriend had received her Italian Down Vest a few days earlier so I was able to compare the two vests. The amounccount for the size proportion difference (XS vs L), but the pockets on mine were very generous, measuring about 9 inches x 11 inches (23cm x 28cm). Both of our pockets were angled similarly, but another difference is that her pockets had more down on the exterior which I’d say would keep your hands warmer.

Ribbed collar on the Crescent Down Works Quilted Diagonal Italian Vest

The quality and specs are definite on point. The front buttons are backed with a circular leather piece to prevent ripping through the material while unsnapping. The bottom of the jacket has a bit of ribbing to accomodate some generosity and retain snugness. I like that the vest has a buttoned front placket over the zipper that prevents any breeze from coming through. I typically wear the vest unzipped or completely buttoned and zipped if it’s chilly. There’s a two way zipper also which might be useful for when sitting down but I haven’t used it yet.

Buttons backed by leather detail for durability

Fit

The length of the vest was longer than I expected. It’s my fault for overlooking the body length measurements for jackets, I typically look at just shoulders and chest (I think I have average proportions). I imagined a vest would be shorter to provide more mobility (such as a well-fitted waistcoat of a suit). The extra two to three inches on the body length exaggerates the classic straight fit. The outerwear, of course, is designed in mind for all weather use and not fashion.

CDW and other sites list the fit as “classic”, so I’d recommend sizing down one if you want a slimmer fit. Stay true to size if you’d like some flexibility to layer underneath.

Rear view of the jacket with elastic ribbing

Function

If you haven’t tried on or own a down jacket, the material really works. I can wear the vest over a henley or flannel comfortably down to mid 50 degrees Fahrenheit or so. If I need extra warmth, I’ll throw on a jacket over everything so the vest acts as a midlayer. The exterior material (60/40 cotton/nylon) is a blend popularized in Mountain Parkas in the 1970s and is tightly woven, so the material is wind and bristle-resistant.

I managed to put my arms through my my girlfriend’s XS Classic Italian Vest unzipped, and I definitely felt the down capturing the warmth faster. Due to more down filling per jacket area in the Classic Italian Vest, the Classic Italian Vest > Quilted Diagonal Italian Vest in terms of warmth.

I’m loving the size of the handwarmer pockets – they fit a bunch of goods comfortably like my phone, keys, wallet even on one side.

YKK two way zippers

Conclusion

Crescent Down Works’ outerwear is made by hand in Seattle factory, and the stitching, quality, and attention to detail was present. At about $295, the price isn’t chump change, but I think it’s justified. The Italian Down Vest is a staple piece on their website

The Real McCoy’s, 3sixteen, and Reigning Champ Crewneck Sweatshirt Comparison Review

Crewneck sweatshirts from top to bottom: The Real McCoy's Joe McCoy Ball Park Sweatshirt, Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Sweatshirt, Uniqlo Sweatshirt Crewneck sweatshirts from top to bottom: The Real McCoy’s Joe McCoy Ball Park Sweatshirt, Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Sweatshirt, Uniqlo Sweatshirt

I never thought I’d come to speak enthusiastically about sweatshirts this much! I visited Standard & Strange in Oakland, CA, initially interested in purchasing the restocked Red Wing 2966 Black Klondike Engineer Boots. Brandon (who is now with 3sixteen!) was very patient with me and helped me select out a Real McCoy’s Joe McCoy Ball Park Crewneck Sweatshirt in Navy. S&S is a stockist in the USA that carries a great selection of RMCs. The Real McCoy’s sweats along with their other pieces have the reputation of being the best of the best. In this post, I’ll give some of my thoughts about the Ball Park Crewneck and compare it to the few other brand sweatshirts that I own.

The crewneck sweatshirt is a classic piece in American history. Naturally, the design comes from sportswear for the sweatshirt was used as an alternative to itchy football jerseys. The grey sweat has been worn by many American icons such as John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Steve McQueen, and many more. I’d even go as far to say that it’s as famous as the Blue Oxford cloth button down shirt in American history.

Terminology

  • V ribbed placket: Below the front collar Functioned to help absorb excess sweat and to maintain shape of the collar
  • Raglan shoulder sleeves (one continuous fabric from collar underarm) vs set inshoulder sleeves: Raglan sleeves provide more arm room, providing a wider range of movement than set-in sleeves
    • Set-in sleeves have a clean, tailored look
  • Flatlocked stitched seams vs overlock seams: Final stitches which are flat, providing comfort by reducing abrasion against your skin
    • Flatlocked seams are strong, flat, locked, thin, and also elastic seams
  • Loopwheeled: The sweatshirt body is one solid piece without seams
    • This process is done with tubular knitting machines that are in only two locations in the world – Loopwheeler in Japan and Merz Schwanen in Germany

Added information from Standard and Strange: The main difference between a sinker weave and a loopwheel is that the sinker weave has more needles and knits at a higher tension.  Sinker weave knitting machines are still slow and expensive, but not as slow and expensive as a loopwheel machine.  Loopwheel knits stretch out a lot, then shrink back down with a wash, similar to raw denim.  Standard and Strange suggests that if you purchase an item made from a loopwheel machine, that you have it fit more snug as it will stretch out over time.

Uniqlo Crewneck Sweatshirt

  • $20 USD
  • Body 100% Cotton*, Ribbing 84% Cotton/16% Polyester*
  • +Raglan Sleeves
  • +V Neck Placket Detail
  • +Flatlock Seam

My budget, readily available sweatshirt option. I’d say this is the best you can get at this price range. The body length is notoriously short. *Uniqlo often changes their fabric composition and thickness every season (Sometime the blend can be more polyester than cotton – you just have to be sure to read the material tag label).

It’s quite thin and the terry cotton on the inside is much coarser/rougher than the Reigning Champ’s

Reigning Champ Midweight Terry Crewneck Sweatshirt

  • Price: $120 USD
  • 100% French Terry Cotton

Reigning Champ is made in Canada, and they’re nicknamed the “king of fleece”. Their Midweight French Terry Cotton is a year-round soft fabric and is woven in a way that one side feels like a soft cotton towel (interior) while the other is smooth (exterior). The purpose of the looped side is so that sweat can be easily absorbed. The midweight is a year round option for mildly cooler places like San Francisco, but likely won’t be warm enough for winter. 

While the price from a $20 Uniqlo sweatshirt to a $120 RC is quite large, I think RC is the best bang for the buck. The midweight french terry cotton isn’t too thick/warm, so it’s great here in California. 

Reigning Champ also has side gussets beneath the underarm that extend nearly all the way down the body. This extra feature provides comfortable mobility with your arms, while also maintaining a slim fit that is usually not seen with sweatshirts.

Reigning Champ also stocks a heavyweight, tiger terry, and tiger fleece versions of their sweatshirts. The heavyweight comes in at 500gsm (their midweight is 400gsm), has a courser feel against the skin from the start and softens/molds to you after many wears like a pair of raw denim. It fits slimmer than the midweight so you will likely have to size up one from your normal size. 

The Real McCoy’s Joe McCoy Ball Park Sweatshirt

  • $160 USD

The sinker weave neither stretches nor shrinks (with a cold wash) very much and provides a more stable fabric. The interior fabric is somewhat courser than the Reigning Champ French Terry Cotton, but I still find it to be quite soft and comfortable for a sweatshirt. The Real McCoys states that this their heaviest sweatshirt fabric (at 12oz), but they do also have a ligher weight version at 10oz. The fit is boxier than Reigning Champs’s fit.

The ribbing on the sweatshirt is very thick and doesn’t stretch easily. I also like the V-placket detail on this sweatshirt because it works better to maintain the collar shape than the Uniqlo’s.

This sweatshirt is tubular knitted but not loopwheeled. A common misconception is that a tubular constructed fabric makes it loopwheeled.

3sixteen Heavyweight Crewneck Sweatshirt

  • $165 USD
  • 95% cotton/5% polyester

3sixteen’s fabric is a heavyweight 500gsm fleece from Canada. It’s very warm and has two hidden hand pockets on the front like a hoodie. The pockets do not connect with each other, however. The interior is fleece. The fabric is a hefty 15oz cotton.

The interior fleece was quite fluffy and soft initially, but after the first cold wash and hang dry, the softness has never quite returned. Some of the fleece shed off after, but eventually stopped. The neck opening is wider than the other sweatshirts and stretches easily. 

Ribbing on the sleeves of the sweatshirts Ribbing on the sleeves of the sweatshirts