We know a lot about the crimson red coat Jane Fonda wears during her “Fire Drill Fridays,” where the actress protests climate change in Washington, D.C.
Fonda said it is the last piece of clothing she will buy, in a bid toward sustainable living. It doubled as a mattress last week, when she spent the night in jail. She even loaned it to a cellmate who was chilly—though she took the coat back at bedtime.
What we don’t know about the coat, and what is quickly becoming the fashion world’s biggest scoop, is the answer to a very simple question: Who made this now-famous garment?
The Daily Beast reached out to Fonda’s representatives. They directed our inquiry to Ira Arlook, chief of advocacy campaigns at Fenton, a public relations firm for social justice organizations like the Green New Deal. Arlook has been on-the-ground with the 81-year-old during all three of her arrests.
“We’re on an [Amtrak] train. Jane doesn’t have her coat with her. Doesn’t know [who made it],” Arlook wrote in an email. He did not clarify where Fonda purchased the coat.
Whatever, she has clearly committed to it—and getting arrested every Friday until she has to return to the set of her Netflix series, Grace and Frankie. It’s become her uniform, whoever the maker is.
A few minutes searching similar styles online yields a convincing lookalike: the Mackage Mai Double-Face Wool Coat with Waterfall Collar. This option retails for $750 and is also available in black, green, light gray, and sand. It’s handmade and unlined.
One happy customer, Shoes2015, raved in the comments section, “It’s such a classic coat that I will have for years. I love the leather detail on the pockets — this is such a winner!” (Shoes2015 could not be reached for additional comment.)
In one photo of a cop cuffing Fonda, the actress’ coat also boasts leather-lined pockets.
“The way the coat falls on the Mackage model is very similar to how it looks on Jane Fonda,” said Doris Domoszlai-Lantner, a fashion and textile historian. “Especially when it’s open with the sash showing—I’d say it’s probably the same coat.”
Representatives for the Canadian brand, which has also been seen on Meghan Markle, did not return The Daily Beast’s request for comment. For what it’s worth, a Bloomingdales’ salesperson told us last year that “all of the it girls” buy their winter coats from the label.
And in an era where civil disobedience has become trendy, Fonda may be the ultimate “it girl.” Though the actress has said she’s inspired by today’s youth climate crisis activists, Fonda has a long history of activism and dissent that predates the birth of these tweens’ parents.
After the sex symbol status that Barbarella (1968) brought, Fonda began pivoting to serious roles both on screen (They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?) and off. Her earliest stab at activism included touring military bases in an attempt to dissuade soldiers from fighting in the Vietnam War, earning Fonda multiple arrests in 1970.
Along the way, Fonda supported the Black Panthers, the burgeoning feminist movement, and American Indian rights. But it was a 1972 photo of the actress sitting on a Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun that earned her the ire of Americans back home and the nickname “Hanoi Jane.”
The actress has apologized for the optics of that photo, but never her crusade against the war.
“In terms of the coat’s color, what automatically comes to mind for me with red is the association of socialist and communist movements,” Domoszlai-Lantner said. “Soviet Russian artists would use colors and visual cues in their artwork as agitational propaganda, creating pieces like plates or textiles that could be mass-produced and that could be sold to the public.”
This could be explained by her attempts to live a more eco-friendly life. Fonda told The Washington Post she drives an electric car and is “getting rid of plastics,” though she’s “not quite vegan.” (The Mackage coat is wool.)
“Maybe she does not want to create such a high demand for the coat that Mackage will have to produce more,” Domoszlai-Lantner offered. “There are so many clothes being produced and being wasted, thrown out, or in the case of Burberry, burnt.”
And so, for now, this mini-fashion mystery continues alongside Fonda's protest. As Domoszlai-Lantner put it, “It’s definitely a color that is eye-catching and makes a viewer stop, think, and possibly even act.”