Monday, May 30, 2011

Papa's USMC pleat front 506xx HBT jacket.

I once read an article with Mr Freedom who stated that often he had imagined garments that 'could have been'. This struck a chord with me as Ive always thought this way too. My inspiration is always WWII. From the hundreds of movies Ive watched and books I've read, Ive been able to ascertain that your average GI was anything but General Issue. Sometimes its subtle, like John Wayne wearing Sperry's in Operation Pacific or more obvious like Henry Blake in MASH with his college sweater and flyvest. Sometimes its a Brooklyn ball cap on an Aviator or a pair of Bass Weejuns on a Naval Lieutenant that personalizes the whole look. I have also been facinated by the way WWII US uniforms drew much of their inspiration from the established outdoor and sporting equipment companies and workwear manufacturers of the era, the likes of Eddie Bauer and LL Bean, it all came down to functional and practical design.
With this in mind I took a logical step from USMC and US Army working utilities and had my tailor make up a pleated blouse based on the late 1930's Levi's 506xx jacket. The HBT came from an after production sale of the film 'the Great Raid', the USMC donut buttons were off eBay and the fantastic double pronged brass cinch buckle came from my good friend Adachi- San in the Levis quality control office in Tokyo.
The single front pocket design I pulled from the P44 USMC ulitily jacket. To me the whole garment makes sense and could quite easily have been Gyrine had the War Production Board contracted Levi Strauss to provide the Corp with a shorter length work jacket, part blouse, part utility, part Vandergrift jacket. For now however it's a Papa exclusive to be worn on early morning recons along the coast searching out the best beach breaks for next weekends surf mission.
(click on photos for enlarged image and detail)