Friday, July 17, 2009

Mr. Chapman..Mentors and the Web

One of the most amazing effects of blogging is that I continue to meet people who are both incredibly interesting, talented and just awesome human beings. I find it renews my faith in the business that I am in. After years and years dealing with the same people and knowing all the players in the vintage clothing business my world has been opened up globally to a whole new field of international vintage enthusiasts who bring their bits of knowledge and experience to the fore. I find myself communicating and sharing with knowledgeable people on a global scale!
One of those people is John Chapman. John has grown to be both friend and mentor to me. He started a leather jacket production company in 2006 abandoning his other career to bring into the world the most authentic replicas of a-2s available on the market today. His company Good Wear Leather is a small one man operation where John's commitment to detail and authentic materials and design are reflected by the fact that he makes each jacket himself for his clients. He sources out his leather globally for the most authentic veg tanned horsehide, and even uses original war era zippers and produces authentic reproductions of the tiny tiny paper lot tags that used to be sewn under the label. I am thankful for the internet because it has allowed me to meet such fantastic genius' like John and pushes me forward to completing my own project to design and produce perfect small batch slow food leather jackets!

Monday, July 6, 2009

WW2, Militarism and Development

As I am a student of fashion I am amazed how little pure history there is about the clothing industry. Often clothing is a cursory tale attached to other histories about industrial innovation, advertising, military history, immigration or other such stories. The internet is rife with silly ideas about French fashion houses and hem lines. Often implying that fashion styles were plucked from the "spirit" of depressionary economies, austere fashions reflecting economic realities of the day, or sensible hemlines as a result of rising feminism. This kind of stuff is sophomoric in my opinion.
By the 1940s and the beginning of WW2 the fashion industry in North America was maturing at an incredible rate. After the depression a natural thinning out of badly managed and run companies resulted in lean, mean companies poised to take on the challenges of huge government contracts available because of WW2. Small and large producers lined up for this economic boon. With all this potential wealth available combined with money for research and design, the military demanded quality garments with more practical designs. WW2 set the tone with many manufacturers, building in quality design through researching pattern architecture that improved and invented modern clothing. Bi swing backs, zippers, standardized production techniques and sizing were just a few of the innovations that resulted from the war. Advances in fabrics and synthetics also blossomed, leaving us with outdoor fleece gear and any number of flame retardant, tear resistant, quick drying fashion miracles.