strategist investigates

An Unlikely Tale of the Amazon Coat That Took Over the Upper East Side

Yes: this coat. Photo: Courtesy of the retailer

If you’re a new Strategist reader, this article is a good place to start. In March 2018, Strategist editors noticed that a weirdly stylish coat from Amazon seemed to be the coat to have among the ladies-who-lunch crowd on New York’s Upper East Side (who typically favored Celine and Canada Goose). Katy Schneider began to work her sources to track down exactly where this slouchy coat came from and why it was so popular. The story led to over 10,000 sales of the coat on Amazon and an eternal best-seller tag.

Gretchen Fenton, a style consultant who lives on the Upper East Side, first noticed the coat on her friend Fernanda Niven, a creative director who also lives on the Upper East Side. Fernanda heard about it from Cayli Cavaco, the founder of Knockout Beauty, and told some 20 people about it.

But in case it seemed like Cayli Cavaco was the first to wear the coat: Lauren Epstein, a Chinatown-based stylist, heard about it from her friend who lives on the Upper East Side — who says she first saw it on her daughter’s preschool teacher at the 92nd Street Y. The teacher at the 92nd Street Y, Jessica Reich, found it on a travel blog she liked, The Blonde Abroad, while planning for a trip to Iceland in 2016. So maybe Reich got the ball rolling. But who can say, really.

The coat is fairly plain: paneled, olive green, and made by a company called Orolay, a Chinese brand that also, curiously, makes folding chairs, storage cabinets, and wall-mounted tables. It’s sold on Amazon for £130. And it’s the most popular coat of the winter, at least among a certain set of stylish uptown women. ‘I first saw it on one of my mom friends,’ said Ana Maria Pimentel, the fashion director at Neiman Marcus. ‘She said, Oh, it’s an Amazon coat. I bought it. Two weeks later, I went to a SoulCycle and I was one of four people wearing it. And I think one of them was [socialite and creative consultant] Lauren DuPont.’ Pimentel says she’s heard rumblings that the first to wear it was a Korean blogger who wore it out uptown — and has contributed to the trickle-down effect herself. ‘Seven of my super-close friends have bought it since,’ she says. ‘A woman at a department store literally bought it on her phone, right in front of me.’

Fernanda Niven’s sister Eugenie; Lauren Epstein (far right); and Jessica Reich, accidental trend-starter.

The coat’s appeal lies in its fashionable-yet-accessible, lightly directional look (the voluminous paneling and zippers have ‘a little Balenciaga influence,’ says Pimentel) and its startling price — the super-stylish women who own it take pleasure in telling curious onlookers that no, their jacket is not Sacai, and, actually, it costs under £150 including shipping if you’re an Amazon Prime member. ‘I think the intrigue is both that it’s super-attainable, and super-different — something that spread solely by word of mouth, something that no one knows about,’ says Pimentel.

Except now, of course, people do know about it. The coat has spread downtown, to Brooklyn — Fenton’s sister, a Brooklynite who owns the coat herself, reported seeing one on a woman in line at C.O. Bigelow in the Village — and, of course, has become near ubiquitous east of Central Park. ‘It’s like the Moncler when it first came out,’ says Epstein. ‘Or the black puffy North Face in the ’90s, when it first came out.’ Which isn’t necessarily a good thing, at least for the women who found it first. ‘Since I started wearing it in January,’ says Epstein, ‘at least eight of my friends have bought it. And of course, now I no longer want to wear mine anymore.’ But some remain undeterred. ‘People cross the street to ask me where I got it,’ says Niven. ‘I’m just really hoping they make it in navy for next winter.’

Some other Orolay coats we like

Very similar to the original, except with a fuzzier hood.

The metallic sheen will provide some welcome winter cheer.

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The Amazon Coat That Took Over New York