Like all suburban boys with mothers that wouldn’t let them touch a football, growing up I my first taste of glory on the sun spotted, dew drenched grass lots of my hometown’s baseball fields. In those days I could barely make contact with an underhand pitch, let alone actually pay attention to the game for any longer than a couple of outs, and so it was out on those diamonds that I wandered into my early, innocuous delusions of grandeur. The game itself was irrelevant, but for that hour or two each weekend I could pretend that I was Sammy Sosa in the backfield, long before steroids, adolescence, and an actual score card took away my wide-eyed love for the game.
I’d take the field, mimicking the players I’d seen on TV by mashing my right fist into the seat of my glove, until what began as a plasticky replica, of a professional mitt, was as creased and faded as a centurian club chair. That texture came back to me this past weekend, as I perused through the racks of leather jackets at the Schott pop-up store in SoHo. I’ve visited the pop-up, which is celebrating Schott’s astonishing one-hundred year anniversary, a handful of times over the past month, but it was on this particular visit as I landed upon their G-1 bomber jacket, that I was brought back to my short-lived baseball career. As I reached up and took that jacket off the rack it felt as if I was grabbing my little league glove all over again. The supple texture, the early signs of creasing, the chestnut-brown color, it all seemed to have been cut from one giant ream of my recycled mitts.
It’s almost embarrassing stacking up my story alongside that of Schott overall. In history alone Schott dwarfs my tale, they’re a brand that’s nearly five times as old as I am and one of the last few companies still proudly producing jackets stateside (New Jersey to be exact) but as you probably could have guessed that’s a big part of what drew me to Schott to begin with. That G-1 might have initially evoked memories of little league, but as I tossed it on and looked in the mirror, I was reminded of the old black and white glory shots of bomber-clad World War Two pilots posing next to the planes they were about to take off in. If those pilots turned around, I’d be willing to bet at least a few shekels that they all had some voluptuous pin-up girl elaborately hand-painted on their backs. I’m not sure the murals were what Schott had in mind when they developed the original bomber jacket back in 1941 at the behest of the U.S. Army Air Corps, but hell if you’re going off to war, you might as well find company wherever you can get it.
Today, the pin-up girls are unfortunately absent from most jackets, but the bomber is enjoying a much deserved revival, with designers snatching up the design and making it their own across the board. As for me though, I can’t get Schott’s model off my mind. Like the rest of the Perfecto Brand it has a slimmed cut, but the good people over at Schott were smart enough to leave all the original features intact, especially that sizable fur collar. While I passed on the jacket this weekend, it’s now on my ever-growing list of “things to buy when I have money,” and I can only hope those leather jacket ambitions play out a little bit better than my little league dreams.