Friday, February 27, 2009

Stronghold Denim

I recently purchased a pair of Stronghold hickory stripe jeans from a store of the same name in Los Angeles. They describe their space as, "Off the rack and made to measure selvage trousers, White's boots, good Bourbon and assorted tomfoolery". I dealt with Bill, a manager there, and found him quite nice to deal with over the phone. The store's philosophy is to proudly sell brands with American history that extends at least as far back as World War 2 and earlier. Stronghold itself was an extinct LA based jeans manufacturer that began operations in the early 1900's. The brand was resurrected and focuses on selvage denim pants, either made in standard fits, or custom made to measure. The denim comes from Cone Denim, in North Carolina, the last selvage denim manufacturer in the United States. The pair I purchased in particular, was their straight leg model in a Sanforized hickory stripe selvage denim. It was a limited edition model, though I am sure you can get very similar items from them regularly. Though I as yet chose not to, you can customize even standard cuts with such things as suspender buttons, or have the inseam hemmed, all for free, after purchase. Once I wash my jeans a second time, I'll probably send them back for a free hemming. As you will see from the photos below, they are an interesting take on the classic jean - vintage details and fabrics with a more modern cut (note the tailor chalk on the jeans, which has washed off since these photos were taken). I love the cut and I am sure I will wind up ordering this cut of jean in different selvage denims that they offer in the future. Thanks again, Bill, for your prompt and courteous service.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Stevie Wonder on Sesame Street, or, the Good Old Days

This is one of my earliest musical memories. I don't know how it is now, but in the late 1970's, Sesame Street positively ruled. I hope children's television programing is still this compelling, but frankly, I doubt it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The First Cloth Flight Jacket

The B-10 flight jacket is where it all started, or ended, depending on your point of view. During World War 2, American men flocked to the Army Air Force, driven their by the romantic imagery of the leather clad aviator, sunglasses protecting their tanned young faces, silk scarves wrapped dashingly around their necks.

Here's a Promotional Aviator shot from early in the war:

Unfortuntely, by 1943, the reality of a global war was making itself felt, and the fact was that the A-2, though lovely, was, as a piece of flight kit, not all that useful. So General Arnold ordered an improved jacket in July 1943, and was in service by the late spring 44. It was a alpaca fur lined cloth jacket, much more flexible and warm than the previous unlined leather garment that had attained iconic fame. You could argue that the B-10 is just as cool, but it wasn't first. Here's a great photo of Don Gentile, one of the leading aces of the 8th Air Force in England, looking very cool in his B-10 and flight gear:

The B-10 had a short operational lifespan. It was quickly eclipsed by the B-15 flight jacket, which is a direct ancestor to the modern MA-1 flight jacket that is so iconic from the cold war.

The B-10 that I have is a reproduction made by a company called Real McCoy's Japan. It is a replica of a specific contract, made by Stagg Coat Co. There is a Real McCoy's Japan these days, but the company that exists today is not the company which made my jacket some years ago. It's all very confusing, so I'll just post the pictures, which are not.