[DEEP DIVE] A-1 JACKET
Welcome back to "DEEP DIVE". In this series go behind the scenes to trace the genesis of our favorite Engineered Garments items. In this installation, we took out our magnifying glass to take a closer look at the A-1 Jacket, a lightweight outerwear inspired by the very first American flight jacket.
World War I introduced aerial combat as a cornerstone of offensive strategy. Aircraft like the British Sopwith Camel and the German Fokker D. VIII, and their dogfighting pilots, instantly became national symbols. The end of fighting in Europe didn’t spell the end of innovation in this field, as American companies Boeing and Thomas-Morse churned out prototype aircraft throughout the 1920s in the hopes of securing air superiority.
In 1927, the US Army seized an opportunity to craft purpose-made uniforms for these aviators. Balancing the need for pilots to stay warm in the open-air with a silhouette that could fit into the technology-packed cockpit, the A-1 Jacket was born. Due to the variety of manufacturers contracted by the military, fluctuations in the design were rampant, although the core silhouette featured flap pockets, knit waistband and cuffs for insulation, as well as a knit collar. Materials used included leather and cotton. As the name suggests, the A-1 was the very first of the American flight jackets, which would go on to have a storied history - a physical embodiment of the daring, charismatic pilots who pioneered the skies.
For many, the A-1’s successor A-2 Jacket is the most familiar entry from the early days of American military aviation. Engineered Garments designer Daiki Suzuki includes himself in this category. Growing up with the A-2, he didn’t realize the A-1 existed until his adult life. On a visit to the Willis & Geiger showroom in Tokyo, he was admiring the loose-cut shape of a lightweight jacket, before an associate informed him that it was based on the American A-1 design.
Pleased to discover something outside the bounds of his knowledge, Daiki examined the A-1 with an exacting eye, noting that in its ostensibly surface design, one can trace the lineage of all of the flight jackets to follow, from the clearly defined details on the rare L-2, all the way to NASA’s legendary Apollo Flight Jacket.
Beyond the tight confines of strict military wear, the silhouette had a lively existence in fashion circles as well. Taking advantage of its quiet history, many brands including Willis & Geiger used the shape for their own products. Milan-based Valstar modeled their trademark “Valstarino” on the A-1, which became an icon in its own right.
For his own version, Daiki limited his embellishments and embraced the classic. In true Engineered Garments style, the proportions are punched out, creating an item that has a pleasant drape and enough room for layers underneath. The knit portions at the collar, hem, and waist are purposely 100% cotton, forgoing elastic in order to create a worn-in look with increased usage. The pockets are a point of pride for Daiki, with a comprehensive look built from the pleated front pockets, complimented by angled pocket flaps.
The Engineered Garments A-1 Jacket is nestled comfortably at the intersection of some of the brand’s defining features. Naturally, the military history has an unmistakable appeal, while its many iterations made in the world of fashion gives Daiki a chance to introduce his own entry. But above all else is the pure simplicity. There are no zippers or high-tech hardware on the jacket, and this analog feel is amplified by construction from lightweight fabrics for the Spring Summer 2022 season.
A true original, finished with just the right touch - everyone deserves an A-1.
The A-1 Jacket is available the following fabrics:
- Olive Cotton Ripstop
- Multi Color Poly Acetate Lurex Jacquard
- Khaki Cotton Duracloth Poplin
- Indigo Industrial 8oz Denim
- Grey CP Waffle
- Brown Poly Fiber Leopard Print
- Black Cotton Duracloth Poplin
Available in-store and online at nepenthesny.com