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Advice For Newbie A-2 Buyer

P2725TMB

Member
I owned a couple of Eastman A-2s around the late-1980’s (when their brochure was a single double sided sheet of A4), but both of these went years ago and they weren’t anything like the ‘modern’ ones, as the leather even after much use didn’t seem to gain character.

I also had a couple of their 55J14s around that period but these were nothing like the originals I went on to buy, the leather being very dull and the fur not good either. I sold one but still have the other, although its remained unworn for nearly twenty years, since I discovered originals.

Up until now I’ve been a hardened USN ‘G-1’ fan, but having recently rekindled interest in jackets and looking at pictures on the forum I’m thinking of buying one or two repro A-2s. However, as with many things nowadays, there’s such a vast choice it’s one of those situations where it almost puts me off buying, as I can’t focus on what I want! I wonder if I might please ask advice from the hardened A-2 experts out there on the best jackets to go for. From initial research I think I’m looking at choosing between Eastman, Bill Kelso and J A Dubow (Platon?). If I go for an Eastman it’s likely to be either the 23rd Ftg Grp Rough Wear 1401P in Vintage WarHorse or the same but plain non-patched.

I’m not one who’s over fussed about the jacket being an exact stitch-for-stitch repro of the original, and for me liking the style, a good fit and high quality of manufacture is more important. However, a must is the leather, as I do like characterful leather, so if I went for a Bill Kelso their Liberty Horsehide is an asset. From reading on the forum, do I gather that BK’s jackets tend to be more ‘blousy’ and baggy around the chest and waist? I do have a (small) tummy, so that might work, but I’d prefer the jacket not to be too baggy.

With J A Dubow, of course, the choice is just one style, but looking at pics on their website they look well-made and good value for money compared with Eastman and BK, and I imagine their leather would age nicely. Can I ask, are they as good as they seem? There's a number I like the look of on BK's website (their pics really show the jackets to good effect), particularly their russet Dubow 27798.

There’s the Eastman Pop-Up coming along soon and I plan to go to that to try a few off-the-shelf A-2s, but may not be able to resist ordering something in the meantime!

Any thoughts and advice greatly received…
 

mulceber

Well-Known Member
My thinking is that if you’re leaning toward the 27798 among the BK jackets, you might as well just get a Platon Dubow, as it is basically a BK without customization options.

But Platon vs. ELC? Assuming money is no object, I’d say, which contract do you like more? RW 1401P or Dubow 27798? Maybe the answer is just to get both! :p
 
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P2725TMB

Member
I'm London, UK. Not really considering Goodwear as by the time you add on likely customs charges it just gets ridiculous. Also not keen on a 2 year wait.

Mulceber, I suspect I may indeed get both! I've sent Platon an email just sounding out lead time.
 

foster

Active Member
I was guessing you must be in the U.K. or Europe to have not mentioned Good Wear as a possibility. I have been pleased with Diamond Dave’s A-2’s but there’s still the customs charges and the fact that he recently announced he is getting out of jacket production. I bought several jackets from him as the price point was good and the quality and pattern captured the soul of the originals well (in my opinion).

A Bronco pattern seems to be quite trim in the waist, if that helps at all.
 

MikeyB-17

Well-Known Member
The general consensus these days is that ELC, nice though they are, have aimed their pricing at the Far Eastern market, and are charging silly money for jackets that are really no better than their competition. It certainly seems to me that Kelso and J.A. Dubow are turning out some serious product at reasonable prices. I would also be looking at Aero if I was in the A-2 market.
What did you call yourself when you were around before?
 

mulceber

Well-Known Member
Mikey raises a very good point. If going for an ELC, it would be worth your money to see about getting one second-hand. Otherwise, you might want to just get a Dubow and, if you want another jacket, a BK or Aero of some other contract.
 

foster

Active Member
If getting a second hand Eastman, I would pay close attention to the pockets as some of theirs featured the high placed pockets. I owned one like that and found them to be less practical than the standard pocket placement.
 

P2725TMB

Member
Thanks for the heads up re Eastman, and I will also take a look at Aero...

Embarrassingly I can't now recall what my callsign was when I used to be a member of VLJ before. Actually quite annoying...
 

Micawber

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the heads up re Eastman, and I will also take a look at Aero...

Embarrassingly I can't now recall what my callsign was when I used to be a member of VLJ before. Actually quite annoying...
Ha ha! And I thought it was just me!

You are right about HM Customs wanting to add a substantial amount for a Goodwear etc from the States, they will sting you good a proper and likely slap a handling charge for the privilege too. So that leaves you with some of the choices above. Platon's Dubow's are well made and stand comparison to the high end makers - as long as you are not outside standard sizes, are tall or take anything over a 44". BK or Aero will do you nicely but the advice about getting on Ebay is sound. So many people fork out a stack of cash for an expensive repro only to have it sit in a wardrobe or drawer as they are then scared to wear it in case it gets a few drops of rain or heaven forbid a scuffed or scratched, at some point down the line they realise they have cash tied up in a garment they rarely wear so stick it on the Bay of E in an attempt to get their money back .....which they never do.
 

Smithy

Well-Known Member
Mikey is spot on the money. Just forget buying an ELC new as they're charging proper ripoff prices now.

If you're not too tall the Platon is probably the best value for money now. Aero are brilliant for customisation so are great if you need something outside the scope of the regular sizes.

Saying that I bought one of AVI LTHR's 29191 Broncos in seal goatskin last year which I love. They're patterned from an original 29191 and are bloody good bang for the buck. They are trim through the torso with wide shoulders just like the real thing though so best suited if you've got a lean/athletic build.
 

Brettafett

Well-Known Member
P2725TMB, I'm also in London.
Before you do anything, check out ELC's pop-up in November. Try on jackets and generally scope their wares out.
I have owned A-2s from almost everybody, often a number of them.

Agree with what the chaps say above, for the money, Platon's Dubow is hard to beat, if the standard jacket fits.
Yes that are that good. My seal Dubow from Platon is gorgeous and has oodles of character and to my eyes.
BK's are a bit more money, but they will do slight modifications, i.e. if you need length added or removed etc... Also options to choose your bits, Seal, dark seal, russet... options for thread, lining and knits. Choices are great!
I think the Liberty horsehide is amazing.
BK's jackets are stitch-for-stitch accurate, copied from originals, just like these other guys, so the 'bagginess' you refer too, would be dependant of the particular contract and size you go for, and how that marries up to your body-type. Each pattern has its nuances.
ELC will also add some length, but no modifications, no options or changing components... Great customer interaction and service. ELC's warhorse is also fantastic... Does vary from batch to batch.
Is it worth paying top dollar for an Eastman? That depends entirely on you and what you want.
However... ELC do not make a better jacket than GW, BK or Palton, but neither do any of those make better jackets than ELC. They are all great, top quality and super authentic repros. They are also, ALL repros...
What size would you be looking for???
 
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P2725TMB

Member
Guys, very many thanks for all your feedback. I'm actually a pretty standard 5' 8" 42 chest. I think I will order one from Platon, as they look very good in his (very clear) pics. I will also investigate BK, as I like the look of the Liberty horsehide. I note both Platon and BK get their jackets made in Athens, at the same factory I assume - I also assume this is because I gather they were connected in the past?

As for Eastman, I'll visit the Pop Up and take a look, but from what you say they don't really seem good value. The eBay route sounds good if something pitches up. I might put a wanted on here too, as I'd be keen to look at any in approx size 42 suitable for 5' 8". As mentioned, characterful leather is important to me and I'd probably not buy one with perfect, smooth, plain leather.
 

mulceber

Well-Known Member
BK and Platon are actually both based in Athens and used to be partners at BK. It’s not totally clear what the relationship of the two companies is, and I speculate that Dubow is quietly a subsidiary of BK.
 

Smithy

Well-Known Member
Platon was with BK and has now struck out on his own by starting the Dubow gig P27.

I was seriously considering one of Platon's jackets when they came out because they are just fantastic value for money but being 6' 2'' and him not offering long sizings (bloody nuts that he doesn't BTW) I decided against. That and I actually just need to wear what I have and stop buying the damn things.
 

Brettafett

Well-Known Member
I have both BK and Platon's Dubow 27798, both seal, same size, although the BK is a touch longer in the sleeves (I requested for them to add an inch). Both jackets are fantastic. Both leathers have character and grain. Cant go wrong with either.
If Platon's Dubow fits, you win big time. The recommendation is to size one up from your normal A-2 size. Im a 39.5 chest, usually wear a 40 or 42 depending on contract... and my Dubow 42s fits beautifully.
Both jackets appear to be made from the same patterns, which I assume is due to your observation above. I know BK/ Platon has original WW2 jackets, that they used to replicate their jackets.
• Just a thought. Before you order any jacket. Go to ELC's pop-up and try on jackets. Take a tape measure and measure the pit to pit, shoulders and lengths, that way you will know for sure the best measurements for you, NOT relying on chest size or stock measurements. Who knows, you may walk out with your dream jacket! At any rate, you will know what fits best and can refer to that when ordering from anyone else... ELC's Star and Monarch would be closest fitting patterns to the Dubow imo.
 

Skanstull

Member
One aspect I like with Eastman's patterns is, accurate or not (I don't really care), the somewhat tighter sleeve ends - that looks good and somewhat more contemporary than the flyffy sleeves ends seen from some other manufacturers.
 

Smithy

Well-Known Member
As for Eastman, I'll visit the Pop Up and take a look, but from what you say they don't really seem good value.
You have hit the nail on the head, they're not anywhere near good value compared to what else is on offer.

If you go to the pop up do like Brett says and take a tape measure. If something really, really takes your fancy then you know what you're after and can get it on the secondhand market for a fair price. Their new prices are quite frankly an insult so it's wise you're learning these things now before blowing your money.

Judging from the measurements you've given you're right in the sweet spot for Platon's jackets - you lucky devil - so if it was me I'd definitely be going that route.

Just to put this in perspective...

An ELC original contract jacket like a Star is £1,099.99

and the Platon Dubow? £386.93

Says it all really doesn't it?
 
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