[DEEP DIVE] DECK JACKET
Welcome back to “DEEP DIVE.” In this series, we go behind the scenes to trace the genesis of our favorite Engineered Garments items. In this installation, we took out our magnifying glass to examine the Deck Pant, a Navy-inspired style, making its debut in the Engineered Garments Fall Winter 2022 season.
Innovation often comes from unexpected places. For the United States, its rapid entry into World War II heralded an unprecedented rate of change throughout all levels of society, and especially on the battlefield. To prevail in a global conflict, the U.S. created specialized combat uniforms to accommodate soldiers’ needs as they changed from climate to climate. The Deck Jacket represents an amalgamation of these innovations, tuned up and repackaged in an Engineered Garments silhouette.
In the late 1930s, the United States Navy was a powerful but compact military force. Despite considerable increases in ships and equipment during the Spanish-American War (1898) and World War I (1917-1918), the limiting peacetime treaties and the economic boom of the 1920s left military reinforcement a low priority for America. By the time of the Great Depression in the early 1930s, joining the Navy was, for many Americans, a simple and dependable, if humdrum, existence - standing watch, navigating, and maintaining a proud but old tradition. This era saw uniforms for enlisted seamen that still consisted primarily of woolen pea coats and dungarees. Despite a recommendation from the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics in 1923 and the addition of Hawaii the 14th Naval District before World War I, the Navy didn’t issue standardized guidelines for a hot weather or tropical uniform.
The outbreak of war in Europe in March 1939 spurred the United States to act, commencing a massive shipbuilding campaign. From June 1940 to August 1945, fleet carriers rose from 6 to 28, destroyers increased from 185 to 377, and patrol boats spiked from 19 to 1,204. The number of US Navy members on active duty in late 1940 was 337,349 - over 4,183,466 would eventually serve during the war. To accommodate this enormous increase in ships and seamen, the Navy undertook a massive rehaul of their uniforms, culminating in the United States Navy Uniform Regulations 1941, which outlined new uniforms for officers and enlisted seamen.
Debuting in 1942, one of the most popular items under these new guidelines was the N-1 Deck Jacket. The first version was based primarily on the 1941 U.S. Army Winter Combat Jacket (Tanker Jacket), which features a ribbed neck, hem, and cuffs, a zip-closure front, and prominent “U.S. Navy” stenciling on the front and back to prevent friendly fire. The jacket was constructed from heavy corded cotton called Jungle Cloth and used alpaca fur lining inside and along the collar. The deck jacket underwent numerous iterations during the war, changing from navy to khaki for better camouflage and hiding the ribbed cuffs up the sleeve to reduce snagging and tearing. The Deck Hook Jacket borrowed fireman buckles to allow sailors to close the jacket with gloves and as an alternative when freezing spray clogged up the zipper system.
The Engineered Garments Deck Jacket collects the best features from all versions of the U.S.N. N-1 Deck Jacket. It is highly functional and has hook and zipper closure systems and an outside wind flap to keep out cold air. Attention to detail is everywhere, from the zipper that closes just halfway up the ribbing at the neck (as found on the original) to the black gunmetal fireman buckles or even the swing-back carried over from the Tanker Jacket.
Though packed with faithful touches, Engineered Garments designer Daiki Suzuki leaves his fingerprints on the item. The hem of the jacket features Daiki’s signature double snap-button closure and punched-out proportions for a wide fit. Daiki replaced the patch pockets with a much more reliable double-welted Besom pocket, one of his favorites. Constructed in three fabrics, the Indigo Denim and Flight Satin Nylon versions feature a bomber-like hourglass satin lining, while the Double Cloth version features a thick fake melton lining. Although not expressly built to be reversible, the jacket can be worn inside out by those brave enough to do so.
The Deck Jacket fits well with the nautical theme of the Engineered Garments Fall Winter 2022 season, inspired by Robert Eggers’ film “The Lighthouse.” Daiki needed a sailor’s jacket for the collection. Rather than picking an item from the late 19th century, he chose a design from more than 50 years later. The Deck Jacket is an artifact from a time of rapid innovation. The necessity of war forced the development of clothing built solely for utility, unintentionally creating an iconic style. Introducing this design into the Engineered Garments collection, Daiki provides innovation once again and creates an original in the process.
The Deck Jacket is available in the following fabrics:
- Black Cotton Double Cloth
- Olive Cotton Double Cloth
- Navy Cotton Double Cloth
- Indigo 12oz Denim
- Black Flight Satin Nylon
- Olive Flight Satin Nylon
- Navy Flight Satin Nylon
Available in-store and online at nepenthesny.com