Jacket Evaluation: Eastman Cable Raincoat Co. A-2(Filed: 20 January 2003)
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Maker: Eastman Leather Clothing
Model: Reproduction Cable Raincoat W535 AC-23382, goatskin, russet brown
Size: 40 regular (with shortened sleeves)
Date of manufacture: December 2002
Date of evaluation: 11 January 2003
IntroductionWith the rollout of this Cable Raincoat Co. A-2, Eastman further expands its line of original maker reproductions. And for the first time, with this Cable, Eastman is producing an original maker A-2 which comes standard in goatskin.
Fit/cut/proportionThis jacket is constructed within correct proportions consistent with original wartime A-2 examples.
Conforming with the pattern and sizing changes which Eastman has phased in over the last year or so, this size 40 is a slightly trimmer fitting jacket on me compared to those from some years ago.
The combination of the newness of the jacket and the custom shortened sleeves prompted some deliberation as to whether this size would be best for me as compared to moving up to a 42, but I remain uncertain. Some breaking in should help loosen it up. While there wouldn't be much room inside for layering, the shoulder seams square up nicely at the edges of my shoulders, and movement is not noticeably restricted compared to what I expect from an A-2. Chest and torso room is good, but I cannot comment on the sleeves as they are much shorter than standard length.
For reference, I am 5'10", 185 lbs, wear a size 42 suit jacket off the rack, and take a 34" shirt sleeve.
Hide[NOTE: More so than any other component of an A-2, the hide may vary from jacket to jacket and so not all of the observations from this one example will necessarily be consistent with other individual examples, nor will they be representative of the effects of time and wear.]
The goatskin is vegetable tanned and aniline dyed in a comparatively light caramel shade of russet brown. Some red tones come through but, like the overall look of the jacket, it varies with lighting conditions. If you have a copy of Art of the Flight Jacket by Maguire and Conway, take a look at page 140 for a goatskin jacket (seems to be a Perry) which has a very similar appearance. For a vintage example of this Cable contract, see page 216 of Suit Up! The Flight Jacket by Imai.
As I've pointed out in other evaluations, one of the aspects of aniline dying is that the color shade can be more difficult to control across hides. There is some evidence of this in this particular jacket where one of the sleeve panels is just subtly darker than the rest of the jacket. It makes for a nice individuality, though.
Eastman's goatskin has been steadily improving over the years insofar as achieving a quality of similarity to vintage goatskin. In particular, the depth and definition of the pebble grain has been enhanced over the years, and that is quite apparent here. There are also areas on the jacket of varying grain pattern and density, and this further lends to the individual character of the jacket.
But the hide on this jacket represents a further improvement I've personally been wanting to see for some time. While the goatskin I've seen on some of the Eastman Navy jackets has been thicker and stiffer than I'd like, the hide on this jacket is not as thick and is much more typical of vintage goatskin A-2s in thickness, weight, and comfort. Still, the hide is plenty tough and hefty, and there is room for breaking in.
The surface feel of the goatskin is a bit soft, and my one remaining preference would be for them to get it a little crisper to be most like vintage goatskin.
LiningThe cotton lining is a mustardy brown color consistent with vintage Cable A-2's, though from some photos it appears that Cable may also have used the more common reddish brown color lining.
KnitsAll wool, medium brown in color and consistent with photos of vintage Cable jackets. The weave and weight, when compared to the knits of several vintage A-2 jackets, is virtually identical.
ZipperCable Raincoat was one of the few makers who used Kwik zippers on their A-2 jackets, though they did also make use of other makers. Eastman has attempted to reproduce one of the Kwik zipper models, as seen on this jacket, but their availability will be limited. I expect that the more common Talon zipper will be the predominant alternative.
There is no triangular stitching reinforcements at the bottom of the zipper, although I do see this on some photos of vintage Cable A-2s.
SnapsThe snaps applied are ball stud snaps. Apparently this is true to this first Cable contract. I've seen photos of their second contract (labeled as order number 42-10008-P) with ring snaps.
Throat hookEastman's standard throat hook assembly is applied here.
StitchingLight russet brown cotton thread at eight stitches per inch.
Top stitching placement from seamTop stitch spacing is a comparatively narrow 1/16 inches all around. This tight tolerance may or may not be typical of Cable, but the 10008-P example on page 210 of Suit Up! The Flight Jacket looks identical.
CollarCorrect Cable Raincoat collar point shape. The point is three inches from the forward attachment and forms an angle of about 70 degrees.
The collar has a simple attachment with no collar stand.
EpauletsThe epaulets have very little tapering toward the neck, which appears consistent with vintage Cable. They measure 1-1/2 inches wide at the shoulder and 1-3/8 inches wide at collar.
The outside lengthwise stitch lines are 0.25 inches apart.
The box stitching at both ends are rectangular and relatively long. Vintage examples also show rectangular boxes, but with some variation in length on different jackets.
Wind flapThe wind flap measures an pretty narrow 1-1/8 inches and appears to be more narrow than vintage Cable examples.
SleevesThe sleeves are joined in the common configuration with the top stitched seam aligned with the back of the arm and running across the elbow, while the bare seam is aligned with the jacket side seam.
The sleeve length, as mentioned above, has been shortened from the stock pattern by about 1-1/2 inches, but the remaining sleeve width and taper to the cuff is appropriate for vintage A-2 patterns.
PocketsThe pocket flap shape is a scalloped pattern with a distinct center point, and this is consistent with vintage Cable A-2 pockets. The reinforcement stitching at the top corners of the pocket patches are unusual in being narrow and very long in the vertical direction. Such a specific detail would seem to be done to match vintage models, but I cannot confirm this as I haven't examined Cable pockets for this.
Hanger loopBox stitched.
TYPE A-2 DWG. NO.30-1415 A.C. CONTRACT NO.W535 ac-23382 CABLE RAINCOAT CO. BOSTON, MASS.Compared to original labels, this one is excellent with only minor deviations in some letter shapes and in the relative length of the Cable Raincoat line. Thread color appears consistent with originals. The label measures 1-7/8" by 1-1/2".
Pocket labelThere is a white label under the left side of the right pocket flap with the size and a also lot number showing the jacket production number.
Inspector stampCorrect style stamp with AN and Z55 within a circle placed on the lining near the label. The diameter of the circle is 1/2 inch, which is slightly smaller than the often seen original mark of 5/8 inches diameter.
Insignia stamp/transferNone on this particular jacket example.
ConclusionOver the years I have developed a growing appreciation for vintage goatskin A-2 jackets. One of the nicest I ever saw for sale was a Cable Raincoat 10008-P which had a squadron patch sewn on it but which was, unfortunately, not original to the jacket. It was a big shame but, between that and the beautiful goatskin Cable 10008-P pictured on page 210 of Suit Up! The Flight Jacket, I became very interested in the prospects of a reproduction. Though this Eastman version bears a different Cable contract number, it is very much a worthy successor to the original.
For more informationSee the Eastman Leather Clothing Web site at www.eastmanleather.com. For U.S. and Canadian sales and information, see the History Preservation Associates Web site at www.historypreservation.com.
Copyright © 2003 Marc D. Weinshenker. All rights reserved.