The “Continental Sportcoat” Charcoal and Slate grey NOS denim twill Sportsman Collection Spring 2016
As previously mentioned, we decided to break the Internet this Spring.
Simple. We just added a new three-piece type concept to our Sportsman catalog. It consists of three new garment patterns with a suiting vibe that we exotically called the Mister Freedom® Continental Trousers, Continental Vest, and Continental Sportcoat.
Our intention was less an urge to have Savile Row shopkeepers and bespoke tailors lose sleep over an American invasion than a desire to add an elegant classic touch to our Mister Freedom® Made in USA catalog. So, expect a bit of unpretentious suiting for the Worldly Gentleman á la MF® in the Sportsman collection for the coming seasons…
According to how lucky we are digging up New Old Stock loot, each season will welcome a new member to our Continental family. With the finished garments, the idea will be to mismatch pieces according to one’s personal taste and need for a not-so-formal yet sophisticated wardrobe. The MF® Continental concept should make us insanely rich, and you incredibly handsome, successful, and influential.
Sometime in 2015, we scored a pretty incredible lot of three different slubby cotton-linen crosshatch twills, milled in Italy. Fallen-off Guido’s truck and acquired in exchange for several kidneys from the Mister Freedom® crew, not much is known about these fabric rolls, besides yarn content, weight and Country of Origin. All three would technically qualify as denim twill, typically featuring a dark-colored warp and a natural-colored weft, but the 30 to 40% linen fiber adds an elegant and crispy touch to the grouping. The three colors we will be releasing the Continental series in this season are charcoal grey, slate grey and indigo blue. There will not be full matching sets available for each color, both intentionally and due to limited yardage.
Following the smashing release of the Continental series’ first installment earlier this year, the irresistible Continental Trousers in NOS crosshatch denim, here is its handsome sidekick, the Continental Sportcoat. Our Sportcoat is an ‘unstructured blazer’, a non-rigid coat without shoulder padding, the Int’l Secret Agent’s best friend while traveling the World busting villains. Roll it in a bundle, stuff it into your Halliburton briefcase, hang it by the shower, close the door… the steam will press it for you. You can then waltz right out of the posada draped like a local, and go get Fantômas…
Did you say Fantômas?
The pattern of our latest Sportsman garment is derived from a French 1950’s cotton khaki twill work coat, pulled out of an old trunk belonging to a French postal worker (Postes, Telégraphes et Téléphones, aka PTT), a vintage grouping found during a recent trip to Europe. We just figured we’d turn our facteur into an undercover OSS agent…
“Moi? Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath… Vous?”
We adapted the vintage design to make it a bit more glamorous than Jour de Fêtes, but not going full Thomas Crown either (remember, the Continental is made downtown LA…). We aimed for ‘sporty playboy’ over 9-to-5 clerk, OSS117 over 1957 PTT, Eurospy over salaryman. Yet, we wanted a casual sportswear feel. The result is a jacket somewhat sexier than the vintage originally-conceived functional postman uniform coat, and less high-maintenance than a fancy suit coat.
Although laden with subtle details, our Continental Sportcoat stays pretty discreet and non-pretentious. The casual feel is heightened by the fact that the jacket is washable, always a plus for the on-the-go Int’l Man of Action. Be aware that its cotton-linen fabric will torque and shrink, the stitching will pucker… But we quite like the whole wrinkled “Salaire De La Peur” meets “1000 Dollars au Soleil” atmosphere. This is an acquired taste of course, and some might prefer a freshly pressed ‘clean’ look instead. Do your thing.
The high-button front also adds a somewhat 60’s spy movie vibe, thus this post’s silly photo skit, featuring Mr. Cristian Dascalu’s own villain-busting machine, a mighty 1970 280SE Mercedes.
Overall, our Continental Sportcoat is quite versatile and will adapt to the wearer’s own personal style, according to what it will be paired with. It can be dressed-up with Continental Trousers and vest, dressed-down with blue jeans or chinos, layered with a denim jacket, or not purchased… The fit is quite relaxed, with darts to cinch the waist and a kind of drop-shoulder pattern for top volume. Because of the rather simple way the sleeves are set (bias tape binding method), a professional tailor should be able to adjust the shoulder area if needed, according to one’s build. Let an actual tailor mess with it, as this is a seemingly easy job, but it does require custom tailoring skills. Setting sleeves is tricky.
The detail-oriented will notice a streamline caballo construction on the inside, with no overlock edges nor open seams, something we at Mister Freedom® find important.
The Continental Sportcoat features a floating half lining, made of natural NOS woven stripe cotton fabric. Along with a concealed chest pocket, patches of lining fabric are used to reinforce the pocket openings, a detail borrowed from the original utilitarian uniform vintage jacket.
We are introducing two twill fabric options for the Spring 2016 issue of the Continental Sportcoat: A) Charcoal Grey twill: New Old Stock, 60% cotton – 40% linen, 8 Oz. denim twill with a probable Italian origin. B) Slate Grey twill: New Old Stock, 60% cotton – 40% linen, 8 Oz. denim twill, also with a probable Italian origin.
The Continental Sportcoat is designed in California by Mister Freedom® and manufactured in California by Mister Freedom® in collaboration with Sugar Cane Co.
PATTERNS: An original mfsc pattern, inspired by cotton work coats and other unstructured blazers, notably a 1950’s French postal uniform jacket.
A) Charcoal Grey twill: New Old Stock, 60% cotton – 40% linen, 8 Oz. denim twill with a probable Italian origin. B) Slate Grey twill: New Old Stock, 60% cotton – 40% linen, 8 Oz. denim twill, also with a probable Italian origin.
Lining: New Old Stock, 100% cotton, natural white with woven blue stripe.
DETAILS: * Unstructured silhouette.
* Lightweight and soft.
* High button front.
* Corrozo wood butons.
* Half shoulder floating lining.
* Side hip pockets with flaps.
* Pocket openings reinforced on the inside.
* 100% cotton stitching, clean caballo flat-felled seam construction, green color “Sportsman” signature chainstitch on the inside. No open edges or overlock.
* Made in USA.
SIZING/FIT: This explains how we size our garments.
The Continental Sportcoat comes raw/unwashed. We recommend the usual initial 30mn cold soak/occasional hand agitation/spin dry/hang dry process. For both fabric options, the tagged size reflects the size of the garment after going through this process. Both fabric options shrink to about the same measurements. Please note that it is the nature of cotton-Linen blend textiles to wrinkle and stretch back and forth with each laundry/wear cycle. For example, freshly laundered linen garments fit tighter in the morning than at the end of the day. If you prefer a clean, pressed look following the initial soaking process, the jacket can be steamed or professionally pressed.
The Continental Sportcoat is quite broad-shouldered and is not designed to fit like a bespoke Savile Row coat, but rather like a casual ‘unstructured blazer’. I am wearing a Size 38 in both charcoal and slate grey Continental Sportcoat. This is my usual size in mfsc jackets, although I have done a full rinse cycle with the Sportcoat, and used a heat dryer for about five minutes.
Please refer to sizing chart for approximate raw/soaked measurements. Soaked = 30mn cold soak, spin dry and line dry. Further shrinkage and creasing will be achieved with full wash cycle (on delicate) and a heat dryer cycle.
Continental Sportcoat Charcoal
Continental Sportcoat Slate
CARE: Hand wash or machine wash unbuttoned on delicate, cold water with minimal environmentally friendly detergent. Line dry. NOTE: Full washing cycle and machine dry will result in maximum shrinkage, to be experimented with care and at owner’s risk.
“I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth or shapes it into a garment will starve in the process.” Benjamin Harrison, President of the U.S., 1889-1893
Bloudini at work
MF® Cowboy blue denim Jacket, NOS Cone, made in USA Sportsman Fall 2015
Those familiar with some of my private after-hour rants will confirm that I’m not too big on consumerism (“the concept that an ever-expanding consumption of goods is advantageous to the economy“), mass marketing, and wasting resources in general. I find the “Think/Own less/Pay more” motto quite convincing, and personally live in relative detachment from un-necessary material possessions, however subjective the concept of must-haves is. I do own more vintage records than I need.
If my disdain for the accumulation of ‘things’ is not necessarily evident to the visitor of the ol’ pile o’ rags at 7161 Beverly, these feelings hopefully transpire once in a while via my blog posts. Much to the consternation of the Mister Freedom® sales department, I’d rather confess to existential concerns in awkward write-ups than concoct the perfect sales pitch.
A moment of “relative detachment from un-necessary material possessions”…
The perfect sales pitch
I got da goods, wha ya need there, Nitz?
Whether shopping for groceries or auto parts, the amount of tantalizing junk and gadgets one sees sitting on store shelves and inside push carts never ceases to baffle me. Some of my fine Angeleno counterparts cruising while staring at their phone screen might not have fully noticed yet, but there is stuff eeeeeeeverywhere. Stuff, stuff, stuff… All that ‘stuff’ is getting to me, ‘Falling Down’ style, with Boris Vian rapping “La Complainte du Progrès” on the turntable.
So now, it never fails. With each Mister Freedom® garment release, a side of me sincerely feels guilty bringing yet another manufactured widget on the market. Besides the paycheck that helps relieve the angst, it has become quite challenging for me to intellectually balance a strong anti-consumerism inclination with a professional occupation that basically consists in relentlessly adding clothes to closets.
There’s not much to discuss in regards to the particular style of our accoutrement du jour. The Mister Freedom® blue denim Cowboy Jacket is another MF® twist on a classic, this time a ‘type III’ trucker jacket, a pattern briefly addressed with the release of its wheat recent predecessor.
MF® Cowboy Jacket in wheat denim
On the other hand, for those proclaiming a passion for denim like it’s the best thing since pizza, there’s always plenty to chew on regarding what manufacturing a pair of jeans involves. For instance, setting aside COO-related labor issues for a minute, our beloved blue jeans are not exactly Natures’s best friend when it comes to H2O… As compelling evidences of climate change keep pilling up, one doesn’t need to live in the Atacama Desert to realize the urgency to conserve and preserve water. This summer, complying California residents even had to refrain from hosing down the old SUV…
From the extensive industrial farming of the cotton crop, to the amount of water necessary for dye-houses to keep our rear ends wrapped in indigo, the tally appears to be around 2,900 gallons per pair. Add a few extra hundreds thanks to the combined efforts of an International band of geniuses who figured consumers would buy more jeans if only rigid denim was soft and distressed, and you can get that environmental footprint in super size. To complete the marketing ploy, the resulting stone-washed denim beauties tend to, surprise surprise, magically fall apart within a year, blown crotch and knees, and get dumped in landfills with no chance of being recycled. A vacuum for more demand has been created. All is well.
If MF®, as a small clothing brand, admits involvement in some stages of this not-so eco-friendly chain of events, just imagine what the garment-churning fashion giant conglomerates might have to confess…
Knowledge is out there, if you take the time to do a bit of research. Being aware of what goes on in your own closet, not just style-wise, can be depressing but is never a bad idea.
That is why I’m always grateful for documentaries and stories coming out of intelligent investigating journalism. If one can’t expect much from fashion publications, more preoccupied by not jeopardizing the flow of sponsors and advertisers than actually educating its audience, traditional news or entertainment media, on the other hand, do have scoops on the Garment Industry at times.
Randomly, Arte has some fine documentaries. Vice did an interesting bit a while back. The Guardian relaying this photo essay actually shed more light on Fashion than the latest issue of your favorite fashion magazine…
I recently came across an insightful Newsweek article, after watching a short French TV documentary mentioning the city of Tirupur, India. If you happen to wear clothes on a daily basis, that article is a must-read. Tirupur is better known as Knit City, playing a major role in feeding the avid consumer of fast-fashion with endless yardages of unbeatably-priced knitwear.
If someone you know owns a color T-shirt featuring a “Made in India” label, it was probably milled and dyed in Knit City, the reason why Wal-Mart could retail it for $10.00. The compulsive apparel bargain-hunter will find relief in learning that local farmers of that southern India region, as a motivation, have been enjoying the perks of purple-colored toxic rivers and invigorating water-borne diseases for decades.
Sorry ’bout that.
At this point, the aggravated consumer, claiming a limited budget, usually comes out with a quip along the lines of “But who the **** can afford a $70.00 T-shirt!?!”, to whom you can politely suggest that owning TWO instead of TWELVE might help.
Bottom line, most of you probably don’t need more clothes, let alone another denim jacket. And besides our commitment to supply fun projects to the small family-owned factory locally producing the Mister Freedom® Sportsman catalog, and a desire to keep our jobs in Los Angeles, we don’t even have much valid reasons for issuing one either.
So I thought I’d spare you the usual brand skit about how “awesome, superior, essential, authentic, second to none, blahh…” the Mister Freedom® blue denim Cowboy Jackets are, and leave you with the usual ‘vintage inspiration’ imagery instead.
Richard Widmark in Lee® (1958) Courtesy Getty Images.
EP in Levi’s® type III “Stay Away Joe” (1968) MGM
Brando in Lee® 101, Dick Cavett Show (1973)
Paul Zastupnevich’s costume design for Steve McQueen in “The Towering Inferno” (1974)
Bob in Lee®, (1976)
Life’s rough. Johnson Outboards ad (1975) “Skin Diver”
Above vintage photos are shown for educational purposes only. To the best of our knowledge, credits are as follows:
* Richard Widmark’s photo in “The Law and Jake Wade” (1958) and M. Brando on the Dick Cavett Show (1973) courtesy of Getty Images.
* McQueen’s wardrobe sketch by Paul Zastupnevich for “The Towering Inferno” (1974) courtesy of this website via that one.
* Robert Redford in 1976 courtesy of Rex Features.
Having said that, the MF® Cowboy Jacket is designed and manufactured in California by Mister Freedom®, in collaboration with Sugar Cane Co.
Inspired by traditional trucker-type denim jackets, aka third-type jackets.
Limited New Old Stock Cone Mills indigo blue denim, 12.5 Oz., white/red line selvedge ID, sanforized. Milled in the USA.
* Fairly trim silhouette, sixties vibe.
* Fabric selvedge displayed on inside front panels.
* Original MF® slanted flap chest pockets.
* Original brass cast MF® branded buttons.
* MF® yellow “M” stitching on pockets.
* Orange and yellow stitch combination.
* Blue 2×1 denim pocket flap lining.
* All cotton thread chainstitch construction.
* Buttoned cinch-waist side tabs.
* Copper rivet backed by leather washers for pockets and sleeve placket reinforcements.
* Debossed leather MF® original patch.
* Made in USA.
The blue denim Cowboy Jacket comes UN-WASHED and cut so that the measurements match the labeling AFTER an initial cold soak/line dry. This specific denim shrinks quite significantly.
We recommend our usual method for raw blue denim garments:
* 30-40mn cold soak with intermittent hand agitation, in minimally-filled washing machine or bath tub.
* Spin dry cycle (if using a machine).
* Hang dry.
* As an optional step, wear the garment briefly when still not fully dry, in order to slightly shape it to your body and set creases. Hang and let fully dry.
When following this routine, the denim garment will dry quite stiff, due to the re-activated fabric starch contained in the cotton yarns. This is normal and will subside with normal wear.
I went for the Medium (38) in the blue denim Cowboy Jacket, my usual size in msfc garments, although I had opted to size down to a 36 with the wheat version.
Please refer to sizing chart for approximate raw/soaked measurements. Soaked = 30mn cold soak, spin dry and line dry.
CARE: Wash when hygiene dictates and common sense prevails.
We recommend turning the jacket inside out to avoid marbling on the indigo side.
Hand washing can be a good option for those concerned with specific wear patterns and high-contrast colors fades. Otherwise, machine wash inside out with cold water, gentle cycle, eco-friendly mild detergent and line dry.
Please note that the debossed graphic on the leather patch will naturally ‘flatten out’ when soaked in water.
And a free bowl of soup to the first reader who notices the upside down woven label on this early sample. Shipping not included.
Mister Freedom® HQ at 7161 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036, USA. (Photo Tadashi Tawarayama 2015)
CDO Jacket, Melton wool x indigo cotton twill combo Saigon Cowboy Fall 2015
Following the recent release of the Mister Freedom® Caban Peacoat, and pushing further up the meanders of our Saigon Cowboy arroyos, here is a new number out of the bush: the ‘CDO Jacket’.
CDO stands for Commando, a respectful reference to Commandos Marine, the famed elite assault troops of the French Navy.
During France’s involvement in the Indochina War, mid-40’s to 1954, several Commandos Marine (Commando François, de Montfort, Jaubert, Tempête and Ouragan) joined forces with South Vietnamese troops on numerous operations from the Gulf of Siam to the Gulf of Tonkin. Whether navigating South China Sea waters, maneuvering Tonkin and Cochinchina waterways, or joining riverine operations around Annam deltas with the Divisons Navales d’Assaut (DINASSAUT), the Fusiliers Marins et Commandos (FUSCO) played a very active role from the early stages of the conflict. These commandos were composed of both supplétifs (enrolled pro-French Indochinese nationals) and CEFEO troops from continental France.
For units assigned to Fleuve (Brown-water Navy) or Mer (blue-water Navy), deployments involved all kinds of fun tropical aquatic activities such as exhilarating adventures in leech-infested and mosquito-ridden mangrove. Cruising aboard US-made landing craft vessels recycled from WW2, or rudimentary river patrol Swift Boat-type precursors, many of these French commandos never reached the end of their 18-month tour.
Due to field isolation, some of these units were left to their own fate and judgement, often pictured sporting eclectic outfits more adapted to local conditions and personal preferences than showing concern for strict military regulations.
For those with a yen for vivid military slang, brown-water French sailors, ‘marins en kaki’ in Indochina, were poetically nicknamed ‘chie dans l’eau” by their airborne or infantry counterparts. ‘Dans l’eau’ translates to ‘in the water’. The verb is for you to guess.
In subsequent years, in and about Vietnam’s 12,000 miles of coastal terrain, American soldiers would in turn be instructed to board all kinds of riverine crafts, some actually inherited from the French flotillas, and confront the same Viet Minh (Vietnamese independentists) enemy, relabelled Viet Cong (Vietnamese communists) to better celebrate the pursuit of the Cold War festivities…
Cdo Jaubert 1950 (Courtesy JY Seven)
CDO Montfort (1949-51) Courtesy Musiolik René
CDO Montfort 1951-53 (Courtesy O Walter)
CDO Montfort LEMONNIER Louis (Tonkin 1951) Courtesy Sélo
CDO Montfort MORVAN Joseph (Tonkin 1951-52)
CDO Montfort Sélo 1950-52 Courtesy MISPELAERE André
WW2 era LCVP, Dinassault crew in Indochina
PBR 9th Division My Tho River (1968 AP photo)
LST 97 Heavy Boat Company (1969) Courtesy Tom Poston 154th Transportation Company
Vintage photos courtesy of thisCommandos Marine homage website. Landing Ship Tank photo courtesy of this website.
Back on point.
Our ‘CDO Jacket’ is by no means a replica of 50’s French Indochina military gear, but instead a product of our questionable imagination. It mixes influences from different armies and periods, in order to create a wearable garment suitable for a peaceful 2015 bateau-mouche cruise. This jacket is the result of combining several vintage goodies in the MF® shaker: British Battledress, 1940’s US Army denim utility jacket, 1950’s French tenue de sortie (dress uniform) jackets, outdoor navy CPO-type civvy garments…
If the general pattern of the ‘CDO Jacket’ is adapted from our Spring 2015 denim Utility Jacket, the shell fabric we opted for is new to MFSC. This textured woven woolen fabric is reminiscent of 1960’s-70’s Melton wool CPO navy shirts, the common civilian kind we are all familiar with, featuring the classic black plastic anchor buttons. This fabric is different from the dense Kersey-type wool of early peacoats, or from the wool serge of typical 1940’s battledress/Ike jackets. It is more loosely woven, without the softer brushed finish, and with the woven pattern clearly visible from both sides.
Vintage Melton navy CPO shirt
1970’s wool CPO navy shirt
‘Black’ indigo is an important feature of Vietnam’s indigenous Degar People traditional attire, both men and women, in the form of dark loincloth, sarongs… Seemingly out of left field but as a subtle Montagnard reference , we have combined our navy blue woven wool fabric with the 16 Oz. indigo warp x black weft twill of our Caban Peacoat, in contrasting textures but blending colors. The two chest pockets, underarm gussets, and more importantly the collar top part, are all cut from that indigo cotton twill. The rest of the body is made of Melton-type wool. Those allergic to wool will appreciate the ‘CDO jacket’ collar not rubbing their neck.
To add another layer of historical references, our ‘CDO Jacket’ is fully lined with Buzz Rickson’s 100% cotton twill, printed with TSP (Tadpole Sparse Pattern) gold tiger stripe camouflage, the same fabric featured on the MF® Tiger Board Shorts.
Oh, and because we have way too much time on our hands, we also thought of hand-dyeing corozo wood buttons in our Mickey Mouse indigo vat, creating quite an impression in the neighborhood.
Loiron of Arabia
The fun begins when the strand breaks
The ‘CDO Jacket’ is designed in California by Mister Freedom® and manufactured in Japan by Sugar Cane Co.
FABRIC: Shell: Combination 100% wool, Melton-type, textured weave and 100% cotton twill, 16 Oz. indigo warp x black weft with white selvedge ID. Both fabrics are milled in Japan. Lining: Buzz Rickson’s 100% cotton twill, printed with TSP (Tadpole Sparse Pattern) gold tiger stripe camouflage. Made in Japan.
* Revisited general pattern of the classic US Army M1941 HBT Utility jacket.
* Contrasting fabric texture combination, melton wool and indigo cotton twill.
* Battledress-type waist length.
* Side cinch straps, mil-specs metal sliders.
* Concealed inner chest pocket.
* Indigo cotton twill top collar for neck confort.
* Indigo twill selvedge visible on inside pocket fold.
* ‘Bat sleeve’ pattern with indigo twill gusset for arm hole comfort.
* Expanding box pleat chest pockets, indigo cotton twill.
* Indigo-dyed corozo wood buttons.
* Adjustable wrist cuffs.
* ‘Oxidized’ black 100% cotton thread stitching.
* MFSC ‘tailleur‘ woven label on the inside waistband.
* Made in Japan.
SIZING/FIT: Our ‘CDO Jacket’ comes unwashed, is true to size, and meant to be professionally dry-cleaned.
However, for the adventurous few who like a bit of ‘torquing and roping’ in their fabrics, the jacket can be initially soaked in cold water for 20-30 mn, briefly hand agitated, and spun dry. Shape it a bit to your body by wearing it briefly before hanging and letting fully dry overnight. This process is not intended to shrink the jacket, but instead to ‘tone down’ the off-the-shelf look inherent to raw garments in general. The necessity of this step is left to everyone judgement and is merely a subjective suggestion.
Unlike its denim Utility Jacket predecessor I had opted to size down with, I wear a medium (38) in the CDO jacket.
Please refer to sizing chart for measurements.
CARE: Professional dry-cleaning or hand-wash and hang-dry. Do NOT use hot water or throw the jacket in a dryer.
Available RAW/unwashed SIZES:
Utility Jacket, Denim.
“Saigon Cowboy” mfsc Spring 2015
I must fully credit the US Army for the design on this number. The overall pattern of the MF® ‘Utility Jacket, Denim‘ is lifted from a first issue HBT M1941 utility jacket. In 1941, this olive drab HBT short work jacket had replaced the blue denim work uniform. It appears the R&D labs had picked up a bit of influence from civvy work clothes with this specific GI garment, very much resembling a pair of mechanic coveralls chopped in half.
We pretty much stuck to the original pattern, but what we didn’t lift is the awkward oversized original army fit. Some of you who have tried on vintage ones will relate. The HBT M1941 jacket was to be worn as an outer protective layer while on chore duty, rendering it about as flattering as a pair of coveralls. Unless you’re Veronica Lake.
Speaking of curves, some of my favorite features on this jacket are the attractive lapel line curve, and the armpit gusset construction. I don’t often take photo of my armpits, but next time I do, I’m wearing this jacket.
Veronica Lake in M1938 coveralls (1943)
There is a well-documented mention in the “United States Marine Corps. Uniforms, Insignia and Personal Items of World War II” book (ISBN:0-7643-2264-8) of a custom theater-made USMC jacket based on that M1941 pattern, cut from a recycled frogskin shelter half:
” …some enterprising Seabee might have set up shop and sold/traded such camo sets to anyone who so wanted one, that is, as long as materials lasted!“
Such historical anecdotes (or plausible story in this case) tend to spark all kinds of ideas when designing clothes, which beats staring at what the other guys are doing for “inspiration“.
Now the fabric… If the Army went from blue denim to OD HBT as the cloth of choice for their utilities sometime in the late 1930’s, we figured we’d go back to denim for our jacket. I always had a thing for the lightweight 2×1 denim of the 40’s-50’s US Army barrack bags. Who doesn’t like those old stenciled WW2 beat up ones. Some 10 years ago, I was lucky to come across a stack of about 80, gathering dust in an old military surplus storage, outside Paris, France. Talk about custom markings inspiration.
Through our Sugar Cane Co friends, we managed to have some selvedge denim woven to the specs of an original un-issued bag part of that loot that we had kept in the archives. The Japanese mills did a great job. Spot on NOS military denim color face and reverse, slight nep (woven ‘imperfections’ in the form of tiny whitish cotton balls), stiff, dry and crispy. Perfect for our lightweight jacket.
Vintage M1941and barrack bag inspiration
GI Mule Skinners (1944) Courtesy Sam Cox
US Army line-up (1943) (M1941 on right)
For the geographic requirement of our “Saigon Cowboy” collection, we took Mr. Glenn‘s Seabee bit from the Canal to the ‘Nam.
We had mentioned CISO declassified true story in a previous post, its logistics role in the Vietnam war and how custom gear was manufactured on Okinawa in the 1960’s to outfit US personnel en route to Vietnamese jungles or other across the fence places…
As a ‘work’ garment, our jacket looks quite subtle from the outside. We opted for black-painted ‘burst of Glory’ type metal buttons, black color cotton thread tonal stitching, and a skillfully orchestrated selvedge galore on the inside… That’s if you can take your eyes off the attractive armpits.
The “Utility Jacket, Denim” is (re)designed in California by Mister Freedom® and manufactured in Japan by Sugar Cane Co.
10 Oz. indigo-dyed 2×1 denim, solid white ID selvedge. Milled in Japan.
* Revisited pattern of the US Army M1941 Utility jacket.
* Waist length.
* Side cinch straps, mil-specs metal sliders.
* Selvedge waistband, chest pocket fold and inner pocket.
* ‘Bat sleeve’ pattern with gusset for arm hole comfort.
* Expanding box pleat chest pockets.
* Inner chest pocket.
* ‘Burst of Glory’ type metal buttons, painted black.
* Adjustable cuffs.
* Chainstitch construction, black 100% cotton thread.
* mfsc ‘tailleur‘ woven label on the inside waistband.
* Made in Japan.
Our “Utility Jacket, Denim” comes raw/un-rinsed and will shrink to tagged size after a rinse/dry process.
We recommend an initial cold soak, spin dry and line dry.
I had to SIZE DOWN on this one, and opted for a SMALL, preferring the fit on me over a MEDIUM that looked too big.
Please refer to sizing chart for measurements reflecting a 30mn cold soak, no agitation, light machine dry.
CARE: Launder when hygiene dictates and common sense prevails.
Machine wash. Cold water, gentle cycle, eco-friendly mild detergent and line dry. We recommend turning indigo blue/denim garments inside out to avoid marbling when washing.
Patina will develop according to activities and frequency of wear.
Available RAW/unwashed SIZES:
Those with beauty sleep requirements should greet the suggestion of joining the crew of a military ship with “Euhh, like no“.
While at sea, days are divided in six watches of four hours, if I remember well. A typical work day on board starts with the 0730 wake-up call, and ends somewhat about nine hours later. Then comes the watch. If the 2000 to 2400 is not bad, the mid-watch of 0000 to 0400 is lovely.
I thought of leaving the mission to comply with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea rules of 1972 to more qualified personnel, and decided to work around those graveyard shifts by dozing off. In the dimly lit sauna-like transmission cabin where I stood my watch, I developed an elaborate survival routine. It involved finely tuning my ear for the sound of approaching footsteps as I laid on the steel floor, and a well rehearsed fully-alert facial expression conveying a “just picking up my pen, Chef” type message.
I never got caught by the chef de quart though. I suspect that efforts at keeping that cabin productive past midnight had long been abandoned by command. By the end of my tour, I eventually found an actual folding cot, concealed behind some clunky equipment belonging to the radio guys in the adjacent cabin.
And I thought I had the routine down…
To balance with such fine examples of efficiency and professionalism, a ship at sea needs a proper watchman. The International Maritime Organization stipulates that:
“Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision.“
And now, with no further ado, the stuff of legend, your pulp fiction dose of non-sense, the anticipated episode of “Tall Tales From Delusion Island”!
Here she goes.
…While cruising warm tropical waters, the Watchman Jacket turned out to be a practical garment for the Team’s lookout. Not every day brought its load of sunken XVI Century galleon cargo. So, standing watch on deck or at the helm could prove monotonous. The multiple pockets became a blessing. Housing everything from notebooks, first aid kit, carving knife, maps, snacks, rum flask, iPod… and of course the apple to keep the corpsman away.
When scouting on shore, the sturdy denim twill version was often preferred over the high-visibility raft yellow model, a color typical of pro seafaring gear.
Granted, denim is a good look in the jungle, but signaling your presence is a double edged machete. So here is another story for you.
The Team had organized a few expeditions to Netherlands New Guinea (known today as Indonesia), attempting to shed light on the fate of an adventurous 23 year-old by the name of Michael Rockefeller (yes, that Rockefeller), who vanished in November 1961 while collecting Art on cannibal territory, of all places. This unlikely outcome of privileged upbringings stirred the International press interest in the region. Extensive Dutch government and Rockefeller family organized air-sea search parties flocked.
All that was found was an empty red gasoline can that the young explorer had strapped himself to while trying to reach shore after his boat capsized at the mouth of the Betsj river and drifted to sea… His companion of misfortune, scientist Rene Wassing, who opted to cling on to the capsized boat and wait for a rescue team, survived.
Did Michael simply drown?
Was he abducted by Papuan tribesmen and promoted Great-White-God-Who-Comes-From-The-Sea?
Was he speared by an aggravated headhunter protecting his stone age status?
Was he spotted some seven years later on the remote island of Kanapu, as claimed a mysterious Australian smuggler known as ‘Donahue‘?
Is he hanging in the Asmat Chief’s hut, like on the wall?
Are you still there?
For the brave few still awake, the 1961 documentary film “Le Ciel et la Boue” (“Sky Above and Mud Beneath”), although not directly related since it documents an earlier event (a 1959 French expedition that crossed the then uncharted jungles of the entire New Guinea island, from South to North), would provide a proper visual backdrop to the above (true) story. I just found a copy on DVD (it’s an added bonus on the 1976 French film “Black and White in Color“, easier to find than the original documentary), looking forward to watching it.
Another recent find is “La hache de pierre“, a book by Gérard Delloye documenting the filming of that 1959 ethnographic endeavor. The footnotes mention that the book brings some interesting perspective on Michael Rockefeller’s vanishing… Most photos below are copyright of Tony Saulnier, photographer on that venture.
In 1961, the year of the disappearance, Operation Trikora was to take news anchors attention away from this Rockefeller case. But that’s another story, enough drifting for a day.
However, for the latest whereabouts of Michael Rockefeller, insomniacs can look here and there and everywhere.
Michael Rockefeller 1961
Protecting oneself from the ravage of the sun
French team that filmed “Le Ciel et la Boue” 1959
Gerard Delloye, author of “La Hache de Pierre”
Asmat warrior, West Papua
It’s almost time for Kumbaya, so let’s regroup around our Spring 2014 “Sea Hunt” camp fire.
The Team liked to keep it light on emotionally-charged rescue missions. While on treks in West Papua, the running joke with the mangrove-scouting pirogue patrol was that in the event of an encounter with javelin-agitating Asmat headhunters, Team members could use the raft yellow Watchman jacket to go climb up banana trees and hide. The name ‘banana camo’ stuck, while the denim issue was nicknamed ‘Okinawa’ due to the provenance of the sugarcane fibers that constituted 50% of the fabric content.
This original Mister Freedom® jacket design is somewhat of the UFO of our “Sea Hunt” Spring 2014 Collection.
The two lower chest pockets are inspired by a 1930’s US Army pullover denim shirt. The keen eye will notice that the Watchman Jacket pockets differ from its 1930’s sisters however. There is an added layer with a slanted opening, upgrading the original somewhat impractical ‘map’ pockets to ‘shove-it-all-in’ status.
Serendipity has it that Mr. Gilbert Sarthre, cameraman on that French 1959 expedition, was wearing one of those 1930’s US army denim pullover shirt. Military surplus was not an unusual part of an adventurer’s field gear, as often documented in period photography and old film footage.
Denim pullover shirts, US Army circa 1937
Cameraman Gilbert Sarthre wearing a surplus 1930s US Army denim pullover shirt, 1959
Banana tree survival kit, tested April 2014.
As with our Skipper Jacket, hi-tech Velcro® closures are featured on the slanted pockets and wrist cuffs.
Removable buttons, a feature of several early vintage uniforms and workwear, made snagging less likely during laundry. For the Okinawa Watchman, we used vintage New Old Stock composite anchor ring-buttons, familiar to those of you who have already flown a Pensacola seaplane.
The ‘Banana Camo’ features buttons made from, you guessed it, tropical palm trees (corozo wood, aka ivory nut.)
On the chapter of the nautical type front closure, the button attachment loops are made from genuine NOS paracord, an obvious overkill, I agree.
The WATCHMAN Jacket is designed in California by Mister Freedom® and manufactured in Japan in collaboration with Sugar Cane Co.
FABRIC: a) “OKINAWA” Denim: Unsanforized 10 Oz. left-hand twill indigo denim, 50% cotton 50% sugar cane fibers, solid white Selvedge ID, milled in Japan. (SC401) b) “RAFT Yellow” canvas, aka ‘Banana Camo’: New Old Stock 100% cotton canvas, mid-weight, solid selvedge. Two different shades of yellow are used. The body is more mustard yellow, while pockets offer a subtle contrast with a brighter yellow (for US production only). We found a limited amount of this NOS canvas.
* An original mfsc pattern, inspired by the wonderful world of vintage clothing and cannibals.
* Shorter type length, reminiscent of vintage fishing jackets.
* Removable ring buttons, NOS composite anchor for the denim issue, corozo wood for the yellow canvas.
* Two lower ‘double’ pockets and two slanted inverted box-pleat pockets (arm and chest)
* Removable throat latch.
* Velcro® pocket closure and wrist cuffs.
* Split back panels and front panels facing display fabric selvedge.
* Contrast wrist gussets and collar facing fabric.
* 100% cotton stitching, Olive Green color.
* Unlined, with no open or overlocked visible seams.
* Bottom adjusting cotton string.
* Made in Japan.
WASHING/SIZING: Both “Okinawa” and “Raft yellow” options come unwashed and will approximately shrink to the same tagged size with an original cold soak/line dry. Further shrinkage to be expected with the use of hot water and heat dryer, obviously not recommended for the Okinawa denim issue.
Do REMOVE the buttons when machine washing this garment, as the metal rings tend to snag the fabric during agitation and spinning cycles. Please note that some color transfer from the indigo denim to the yellow canvas might occur should you use a heat dryer.
The fit is quite generous, although intently on the shorter side, somewhere between the Skipper and the Ranch Blouse. The resulting silhouette will obviously vary according to one’s built and body proportions.
I am usually a medium (38) in mfsc jackets, and am wearing a 38 in the Watchman.
Please refer to cold soak/line dry measurements chart below.