SKIPPER Jacket, Weather Cloth & Ripstop
“Sea Hunt” Collection, mfsc Spring 2014
One of these days, when they are made longer than 24 hours, I would love to embark on an attempt at documenting how a selection of time-tested 20th Century military garment designs originally came about…
We take for granted that iconic pieces exist, from the USN Peacoat to “The Hunter” MA-1 to Panama sole Jungle boots to “Taxi Driver” M-65… but gathering info on their drafting-table origins is a full-time job.
The design thought and process, along with the names and faces behind these garments, would make a fascinating coffee table book. Before all gets lost to History and assuming none of this is under classified status, I believe someone should undertake this archival task.
I do not know the first thing about writing a book, so I’ll put this on the rear part of the back burner of my broken stove for now.
So, until then, you know it, it’s time for another story! Yeahhhh!
Let’s introduce our 2014 “Skipper”.
This tricked-up zip-up jacket got its nickname from being the top layer of choice of our “Sea Hunt” Team’s salty helmsman, when cruising tropical latitudes. According to the type of mission the Team was on, a color was chosen, orange being mostly reserved for search & rescue. Such missions included the fruitless expeditions to locate 23 year-old adventurer Raymond Maufrais who vanished on January 13, 1950 after entering the thick Guyanese Amazon jungle. In 1964, after 18 self-financed expeditions to Dutch Guiana, his father Edgar Maufrais was still searching for him…
On a lighter note, the “Skipper” jacket’s design is a pure hybrid and had its origin in a different type of jungle.
I am talking about a remote little town called Natick, some 20 miles from Boston, in the US of A…
It is not commonly known that some of the ‘unsung heroes’ behind many of today’s wearables have had residency in Natick, Massachusetts. Through years of behind-the-scene activities related to the Garment Industry, Natick’s real clothing designers deserve more awards than those distributed on ephemeral fashion week catwalks.
Natick is home of the ‘United States Army Soldier Systems Center‘, sometimes referred to as ‘Natick Army Labs‘.
Given military command’s keenness towards acronyms, the SSC’s denomination and responsibilities have greatly evolved over time, since its QRF (Quartermaster Research Facility) inception days, around 1952.
But that’s where the stuff gets designed. And tested. Like for real.
If you own a piece of vintage Government Issued US military field gear from the 1960’s, chances are its concept came out of some lab around Natick.
Today, for a portion of the roughly 2000 strong personnel working on the premises, the mission is to research and test for the US Army, from textiles to rations to camouflage patterns…
In order to better equip those in the fields according to needs and deployment specifics, uniforms and gear are subject to advanced technological tests and targeted engineering.
Then, we, little designers, get to reap from that R&D in total impunity, since military designs seem to fall under public domain the moment they are released. Stick a woven tab on the rear pocket of denim jeans however, and you get the heavies and a Cease and Desist 😉
Two photos below are courtesy of NSRDEC, Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center. The denim jacket, from MF® archives, is an experimental USN 1970’s coat out of a Natick facility. It didn’t make the mark and that pattern never put in production.
Back on point, our Spring 2014 “Sea Hunt” SKIPPER Jacket owes some of its hybrid specifics to one of the jacket a Natick lab started concocting in 1962.
Namely the MIL-C-43199 (Coat, Man’s, Combat, Tropical) familiar to fans of Apocalypse Now and other jungle-fever types.
We borrowed the slanted chest cargo pocket pattern from that tropical jacket, along with its lower cargo pockets. We opted for what is known, to above mentioned jungle-fever types, as the Second Pattern (issued in 1965). That modified pattern featured concealed buttons, as the exposed button models proved to get snagged when in the bush not yet napalmed.
We decided to get rid of the buttons altogether, we’re crazy like that, and replace them by the ultra-hi-tech invention of the day: the “Hook and Loop Fastener” system, invented in 1948, aka Velcro®.
Also, because we know that your summer plans include crossing the Congolese swamp land from West to East á la ‘Babinga-Pongo’, we were thoughtful enough to include ‘drain holes’ in the three cargo pockets (small round stitched eyelets allowing you to keep only the piranhas after a marsh bath.)
Additionally, an arm-wrestling contest with a man-eating swamp crocodile tends to make one work up a sweat, so we have added mesh-screen type eyelets to the underarms.
Again borrowed from the US QM Depot are the heavy “Crown” zippers, often featured on field gear in the 1960’s (M-65 jackets for instance.)
Another military reference is the left chest snap pocket, originally the thigh pocket of an orange USAF coverall that held the knife that would cut tangled paracord. The arm ‘cigarette’ pocket is also borrowed from vintage flight gear, and will now hold your iPod, just because smoking is bad.
Our hybrid “Skipper” jacket also features some non-mil flagrant influences. It freely borrows from vintage late 1960’s-70’s Sierra Designs® 60/40 mountain parka type detailing, such as snap wind-flaps, two-tone hood, leather pull toggles, gusseted wrist cuffs…
And now the “Fine, fine already, but does it come in black?” chapter:
The fabric options consist of two colors of tightly woven 100% cotton 6 Oz. weather cloth, navy blue and olive green.
A third option, an entirely different textile, is an orange 100% cotton 4.75 Oz. RIPSTOP fabric.
Urban legend has it that the six pockets of the orange ripstop “Skipper” jacket where all needed to holster the many batteries that made it so blindingly bright.
For pairing suggestions, the photos bellow display a full range of multiple and fashionable outfit options. Immediate attention on your bicycle ride to work guaranteed.
MF®, always pushing the boundaries of Trend Forecasting.
Now, after rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, ie. duly crediting the US Army + George Marks & Bob Swanson of Sierra Design®, let me shamelessly state the following…
The Spring 2014 “Sea Hunt” Skipper Jacket was designed in California by Mister Freedom® and manufactured in Japan as a collaboration with Sugar Cane Co.
a) Navy Weather Cloth: 100% cotton 6 Oz. tightly woven windbreaker popeline, milled in Japan.
b) Jungle Green Weather Cloth: 100% cotton 6 Oz. tightly woven windbreaker popeline, milled in Japan.
c) Orange Ripstop: 100% cotton 4.75 Oz. ripstop fabric, milled in Japan.
According to how you decide to roll your hoodie (= which color will be facing) when secured with the adjustable cinch-strap, the jacket will look two-tone or single tone.
The Navy option has orange accents, the Jungle green option has navy accents, the Orange option has Jungle green accents. And no, the Skipper doesn’t come in green with orange accents, nor in black.
* An original mfsc pattern, hybrid of 50’s-60’s US military gear and 1970’s mountain parka outdoor-type jackets.
* Un-lined, with flat-felled inside seams, no overlock or exposed seams.
* Heavy mil-spec 1960’s type “Crown” zipper.
* Windflap with DOT-type mil-specs snaps.
* Five pockets:
– Three ‘Vietnam’ combat jacket style Velcro® flap pockets with drain holes and one pen pocket.
– One iPhone chest snap pocket.
– One forearm iPod zipper pocket.
– One concealed chest pocket.
* Gusseted wrist cuffs, two-tone.
* Leather drawstring toggles and cinch eyelets.
* Underarm metal mesh-type eyelets.
* Rollable two-tone hood
* Drawcord hood and bottom, for wind protection.
* Tonal 100% cotton stitching.
* Made in Japan.
The Skipper is cut fairly trim but is wearable as a layer according to your build.
I wear a size 38 (medium) Skipper, my usual size in mfsc, with enough room for a light shirt and denim jacket/sweater underneath if needed.
All three fabric options come unwashed, as usual, and will shrink to approximate similar measurements (although our carrot Ripstop fella is slightly longer.)
We recommend an original cold soak, spin dry cycle and line dry.
When cleaning is needed, gentle washing cycle in cold water with minimal detergent will do the trick. Because of the heavy mil-spec type zipper + other metal parts and the relatively thin fabric , care should be taken not to subject the jacket to harsh machine washing.
When in doubt, professional cleaning is always a good option, for those with an environmentally-friendly cleaner in the neighborhood.
Please refer to cold soak/line dry measurements chart (note that, although not recommended, hot water and heat dryer use will result in further shrinkage and probable damage to the leather parts.)
Also note that due to the raglan sleeve pattern, the sleeve measurements were taken from pit-to-cuff (not shoulder-to-cuff.)
a) Navy Weather Cloth $649.95
b) Jungle Green Weather Cloth $649.95
c) Orange Ripstop $649.95
Soon available from www.misterfreedom.com
Please call 323-653-2014 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions not answered above.
Thank you sincerely for your support.
Now I just need to haul the 3,200 Lbs of props back in storage.