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John Chapman of Good Wear Leather

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote stony Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Mar 2014 at 5:32pm
Great interview! I've known John for many years and he has always been passionate about flight jackets as you can see. The first time I'm met him was at a reunion for the American Fighter Aces and he was wearing an original WWII M-422a Navy flight jacket. Being a collector of flight jackets myself, we immediately hit it off and have been talking about this subject for many years. I remember one year he visited me around Christmas because we had the tree up and decorated. He had brought over a few of his jackets and I had a closet full, so we put all of them under the tree and took a picture. He is the only person I've met that can look at an original A-2 that has no label and he'll tell you exactly which company made it and which contract it is. I'm sure he can do the same for the Navy jackets. He is amazing!
"Life is hard, it's harder if you're stupid" (John Wayne)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bobakim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Sep 2014 at 10:30pm
Very useful interview!!! 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote mr randal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Dec 2014 at 5:17pm
Here's an addendum to the John Chapman interview, prompted by some exciting changes at his studio- the introduction of a new pattern and some production collaborations:


Q) My understanding is that the new Good Wear Imperial model design was a sort of collaboration between you and a Fedora Lounge/ Denimbro member, Handymike (Eric).
 Have you worked with customers before in developing new patterns?

A) Yes. Eric really wanted that design, and I had the chance to handle and pattern an original back in 2008. I wasn't sure if I would copy it, because, as a size 46, it wasn't the best looking body pattern that I've ever handled, even though the details were great. I liked the idea, but with a body more like the Good Wear Ventura. So, after Eric waited through his line in the queue, I sat down and made a basic pattern of the Ventura, with only the most generic panels and converted that into the design of the Imperial. It was just by eye, and not based on the original I had handled back in 2008. I really like how it came out. The pockets were Eric's idea, and later models for the web site will have a slightly different main pocket. Yes, other customers have inspired me to go places I wouldn't have naturally gone: the A-1 and a new Californian pattern that you'll see below comes to mind.

Here's a new pattern, which is based on an original California Sportwear jacket that I've had since 2009, which my friend David Howell had traded to me for another jacket that I have. I've been meaning to copy this for years, but never got around to it, until a customer asked me to make a copy of the California Sportwear jacket that Bruce Willis wears in the movie Surrogates. He also asked two years ago when it placed his order, and now that his order is ready, I've built a test model based on the original jacket. I really like this design! I made the body a little longer than the original, and copied the back design that Willis' original has, which my jacket didn't have.

http://www.goodwearleather.com/cal_new_pattern/







Q) the Imperial seems about as far as you could get from an A-2 in a leather jacket, design-wise. At least to a layman. How did you enjoy the experience of patterning such a structured jacket, in light of the "apparent" (I say delicately) simplicity of the A-2s that are your primary interest?

A) Every different pattern is a form of artwork, and has it's idiosyncrasies that make them so interesting. I love being able to do very differing designs. The A-2 and B-6 sheepskin jacket are about as far apart as possible, and both are so fun to make. The simplicity of the A-2 means that everything has to be almost perfect, or any flaws will show easily, while jackets with many more parts can be a bit more forgiving. But we try to make them all great. The actual patterning of a more complex jacket isn't nearly as hard as grading the pattern to different sizes. That is a huge amount of work.


Q) What is your take, now that you've made a couple of the Imperials, on their fit and wearability?

A) I think they're fantastic jackets that wear very well, especially being that the pattern is based on the Ventura. That design seems to work very well with the human frame.


Q: Are there any new leathers, or leather processing techniques, that you have recently started using?

A) I'm always looking for new sources of leather. I've been able to find a number of cowhide tanneries and one goatskin tannery that make superb leather. I like the grainy leather that will show age, and two versions of cowhide are superb, which you can see below:





And the seal brown goatskin:



Q: last time we talked, you mentioned having some plans for a GW A-2 pattern to be produced outside of your studio by another manufacturer. Any news on this front?

A) I have been able to run with two sources. The first is David Howell,  whom I've known and have been talking jacket construction for the last five years. He and I have had the idea of him making A-2s for a while, along with a catalog of other jackets that he makes, and in the last year, he has been sewing A-2s together to get the process down. Secondly, Ken Calder, of Aero Leather/Scotland has offered a line of A-2s that would be stock sizing as well. I've gotten five A-2s in the first round, and have them up on the site. And in the latest news, I've got an unannounced North American company that will be making Ventura jackets for me, and the results on the first one are fantastic. More on that soon, but here are some photos of that first one...

http://www.goodwearleather.com/ventura_horsehide/








Edited by mr randal - 14 Dec 2014 at 5:29pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Happy Hooligan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Dec 2014 at 5:50pm
wait, now he's making my surrogates jacket!  I asked years ago for that.  So excited.  It's my favorite of that style...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote devilish Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Dec 2014 at 8:44pm
Nicely added. It looks very much like things at Good Wear are going from strength to strength. This makes me, as a tried and convicted fan boy, very happy indeed. The new civilian designs really look up to the fantastically high standards that all of John's jackets attain. I really do wish I could own one of everything that John makes. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hollows Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Dec 2014 at 9:10pm
Now someone needs to convince him to do a buttoned civilian style!
I make things out of leather.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Superfluous Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Dec 2014 at 9:26pm
Thanks for the update Mark.  JC's Surrogates repro looks amazing!!!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote handymike Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Dec 2014 at 10:45pm
I'm glad to hear things are going well at Goodwear!
Hollows, you're right-on with the buttoned up idea. I wonder what that might look like.
Buona Fortuna, John !
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote A_See Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Dec 2014 at 11:51pm
Great read! Thanks John and Mark for taking the time to do this.Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CBI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Sep 2015 at 6:56pm
I am a big fan of John and GW and have owned many of his jackets, still.  

Juts making first post here - more to follow of sure!
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