Jacket Evaluation: Eastman Star Sportswear(Filed: 20 November 1999)
(Updated: 16 January 2002)
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Maker: Eastman Leather Clothing
Model: Reproduction Star Sportswear W535 AC-28557, horsehide, seal brown
Size: 40 regular
Date of manufacture: October 1999
Date of evaluation: 20 November 1999
Note: text referenced photo examples of original Star jackets are found in the following sources.
UPDATE (16 January 2002)Since the time this evaluation report was written, Eastman has made some changes to this Star Sportswear A-2. These changes, listed here, should be taken into account when reading the report below.
Fit/cut/proportionThis jacket is constructed within correct proportions consistent with original wartime A-2 examples. The sleeves are longer than expected, but this is stated by Eastman to be typical of Star A-2 jackets.
For reference, I am 5'10", 180 lbs, wear a size 42 suit jacket off the rack, and take a 34" shirt sleeve. This size 40 regular A-2 is an overall proper fit for me in the body, but the sleeves are long for my preference (by about 2 inches) while not looking too awkward. When wearing only an average weight shirt underneath, the shoulder seams lie at the edges of my shoulders and perhaps just a slight bit over the edges. With my arms relaxed at my side, the sleeves are of a length to cause some compression of the cuff knits and some compression and folds in the sleeve itself due to the length.
The torso is just a bit more tapered toward the waist compared to other jackets, such as the Rough Wear, but Eastman also states that this is consistent with Star A-2 examples. The overall look of this jacket in cut and fit is very good in the body and consistent with the usual wartime look.
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 hide is vegetable tanned with a spray applied finish. The finish has a matte quality with only the slightest shine to it. Despite the spray finish, there exists some variation in the shade of color over the jacket, almost a mottled appearance in places, which lends a great deal of individual character to the jacket.
This horsehide is exceptionally soft and supple and should require virtually no breaking in for comfort. The hide of this example seems to be just a bit thinner and lighter than average and this may lend to the extra soft quality. The handling of this jacket is similar to that of several wartime goatskin jackets, both A-2 and Navy examples, which I have examined. They tend to be relatively thin, light, and very supple. Overall, the Star leather is very nice and makes for a comfortable jacket.
The color is a medium dark brown, but as mentioned above there is a very interesting variation of color tone over the jacket which in some spots has a russet appearance. It seems to be a bit of an unusual color compared to original jackets, but it is very similar to the Star examples in references 1 and 3, particularly the first example in reference 1. Also, the combination of the hide with the color of the lining and knits, and the contrast to the reddish thread make for an appealing look.
There is a fine and definite grain structure over most all of the hide, with sufficient variation to impart an individual character. It would seem that with wear, the grain and natural wrinkling of the hide should develop further and add to the character. The grain and wrinkling are very similar in nature to that of the latest Eastman Rough Wear 1401 russet aniline dyed horsehide. As mentioned in the Rough Wear evaluation, that hide was found to be remarkably similar in character to that of an original wartime Poughkeepsie A-2.
LiningLining is medium brown in color with a weave, weight, and texture very authentic to original linings. This lining color appears correct for Star as seen most clearly in the first example of reference 1.
KnitsLight medium brown. Good weight and thickness similar to originals.
ZipperNew old stock nickel Talon style with unmarked vertical bar on slider, and simple lines pattern on stopper box. C-shaped stopper clips at top of zipper. Zipper tape is folded over at bottom. This zipper is accurate for the Star jacket.
There is no triangular stitching reinforcements at the bottom of the zipper, also true to the original Star.
SnapsGun metal grey ball stud snaps, semi-matte finish. The ball studs are the same size for both collar and pocket, but the base under the stud is smaller on the collar than on the pocket. This is proper for Star.
Throat hookAll nickel, correct size and shape.
StitchingRusset brown cotton, eight stitches per inch.
Top stitching placement from seam3/32 to 1/8 inches all around.
CollarCollar point shape appears consistent with photo examples. Point is about 3.25 inches from forward attachment and forms an angle of about 65 degrees, making the collar slightly longer and more pointed compared to a Rough Wear as a reference.
The collar is a simple attachment (no collar stand).
Epaulets1-3/8 inches wide at shoulder, 1-1/8 inches wide at collar. This is a relatively narrow epaulet and this is consistent with photo examples of Star.
Outside lengthwise stitch lines are 0.25 inches apart.
Box stitching at both ends are square, with the crossing stitch lines extending across both of the two lengthwise stitch lines. The box stitching at the collar is not closed with the fourth side of the square toward the collar, and this is also consistent with the photo example.
Overall, very authentic to original Star epaulets.
Wind flapGenerally 1.25 inches from edge to inside stitch line, with some slight variation along the length. Photo examples appear that they may be slightly wider.
SleevesStar A-2 jacket sleeves are constructed with a more atypical configuration. While the top stitched seam is still aligned with the back of the arm and running across the elbow, the bare seam is not aligned with the jacket side seam, but rather is rotated forward a couple of inches. It then runs down the inside of the arm across the inside bend in the elbow and aligns with the middle finger. In this configuration, the under sleeve panel is almost the same width as the other one rather than being much narrower as in more typical constructions.
The length of sleeve is proportionally long on the Star jacket, and Eastman states that this is true to the originals. This means for me that the sleeves feel too long, but since the leather on this example is so soft, there is little discomfort in the compression of the sleeves and knits in fitting the extra length between my shoulder and wrist. This extra length will be of interest to those with longer arms or those who object to having their shorter sleeves ride up their arms while driving.
Sleeve taper is proper with the diameter at the end of the sleeve closing down properly to the wrist and with no overstretching of the knit where it attaches. Width of upper sleeve is somewhat roomy without appearing oversized when worn.
PocketsThe pocket flap shape has a relatively sharp but only moderately extended center point, with a soft curving out to the sides. This appears very much like the original examples. The bottom corners of the pockets themselves are also of a proper small radius of curvature. Size, position, and stitching also appear proper. The top of the pocket patch is sewn with only one horizontal line of stitching as opposed to the commonly seen pair of lines. The angled reinforcement stitches in the top corners of the pocket are also distinctive in that they are sewn horizontally rather than at the more typical vertical orientation. The tab folded under the pocket to reinforce the snap rivet is rounded but sharply centered. I have no example to compare to but presume that these details are correct for Star.
Hanger loopBox stitched.
TYPE A-2 DWG. NO. 301415 CONT. NO. W535 AC-28557 STAR SPORTSWEAR MFG. CO. LYNN, MASS. PROPERTY AIR FORCE, U.S. ARMYCompared to original labels, this one is very good with some minor variation existing in the relative size and boldness of some of the lines of text compared to originals. The lettering is correctly of white threads woven into a black panel.
A correct border exists around all outer edges of the label.
Size tab is correct size and numeral style.
Pocket labelWhite label under left side of right pocket flap is printed with Lot and Size 40 with no other markings except for a number on the back which may or may not be a serial number.
Inspector stampCorrect stamp with AN and P198 within circle placed on lining next to the spec label, as seen in reference original. Outside diameter of circle is 17/32 inches, which is slightly smaller than the often seen original mark of 5/8 inches diameter.
Insignia stamp/transferNo AAF insignia stamps or transfers on this example.
Summary and overall impressionThis is a very fine and good looking jacket with high quality construction and faithfulness to the original Star A-2. It is great to see the reproduction of another original label with some distinctive maker features. To anyone considering this jacket for purchase, I would recommend taking into consideration the extra sleeve length inherent in this jacket with respect to your particular fit. To those who prefer a softer leather, the Star may be for you. And to those who prefer a leather with some resistance for breaking in, it would be worth finding out if this example is representative or not. Personally, I'd like to see it beefed up a bit. Nonetheless, it's an excellent jacket overall and I would recommend it. (See the Update above for changes in this jacket since the time of this evaluation.)
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 © 1999, 2002 Marc D. Weinshenker. All rights reserved.