ELCs New Combat Combat Collection.

917_k

Active Member
Without getting into the debate about the rights and wrongs of ELC pricing, it does surprise me people feel so strongly about it when you can pretty much guarantee any day of the week there will be a bunch of ELC A-2s on EBay for half (or less) than the RRP. Maybe not the way to look at it, but the second hand market is so awash with these things that from my perspective I couldn’t give a damn what ELC charge RRP. I have a basically brand new ELC B3 I acquired for £500 (size 42, so nothing weird) and a very good condition ELC A-2 (‘house’ jacket) I got for £250. Maybe I just got lucky...?

As an aside the Combat Collections leaves me cold and ill just buy the real thing if I want it, for 1/3 of the price (at least in the case of the P-56) and be content I own something that will hold its value.
 

Smithy

Well-Known Member
Without getting into the debate about the rights and wrongs of ELC pricing, it does surprise me people feel so strongly about it when you can pretty much guarantee any day of the week there will be a bunch of ELC A-2s on EBay for half (or less) than the RRP. Maybe not the way to look at it, but the second hand market is so awash with these things that from my perspective I couldn’t give a damn what ELC charge RRP. I have a basically brand new ELC B3 I acquired for £500 (size 42, so nothing weird) and a very good condition ELC A-2 (‘house’ jacket) I got for £250. Maybe I just got lucky...?

As an aside the Combat Collections leaves me cold and ill just buy the real thing if I want it, for 1/3 of the price (at least in the case of the P-56) and be content I own something that will hold its value.
Well said. If your heart is really set on ELC you are far better off to buy secondhand as you wisely point out. You can buy mint ELC secondhand gear for far more realistic and reasonable prices.
 

mulceber

Well-Known Member
I think it’s because a lot of people here got into the hobby with Eastman and became fans of their work, and then felt betrayed when there were repeated price increases that lifted Eastman out of their reasonable price range. I’ve had similar experiences to you though. My A-2 from them was a used purchase from eBay. My B-3 was from a retailer that offered me a deal. But weirdly in the U.S. I think we might have a couple options for Eastman that other folks don’t.
 

B-Man2

Well-Known Member
Without getting into the debate about the rights and wrongs of ELC pricing, it does surprise me people feel so strongly about it when you can pretty much guarantee any day of the week there will be a bunch of ELC A-2s on EBay for half (or less) than the RRP. Maybe not the way to look at it, but the second hand market is so awash with these things that from my perspective I couldn’t give a damn what ELC charge RRP. I have a basically brand new ELC B3 I acquired for £500 (size 42, so nothing weird) and a very good condition ELC A-2 (‘house’ jacket) I got for £250. Maybe I just got lucky...?

As an aside the Combat Collections leaves me cold and ill just buy the real thing if I want it, for 1/3 of the price (at least in the case of the P-56) and be content I own something that will hold its value.
I think that in one way, you’ve actually made the case for ELC gear being over priced. Like some of us you realize that ELC products are over priced and you choose not to spend your money subsidizing those high prices. However, if you find an ELC item that’s reasonably priced, you will willingly spend your money for those items. The fact that you don’t give a damn what ELC charges retail, sort of aligns you with some of us in that we don’t care what they charge either, because like yourself we refuse to purchase their goods at those exorbitant prices as well. Not criticizing you .. just thinking about your post.
 

ausreenactor

Well-Known Member
Not out of line for what they want to charge but you can easily argue it is for what you get. Yes there's other esoteric crowds who charge more for similar items but they're even more niche and specialised than ELC and usually in Japan.

£300+ for a pair of cotton combat trousers is utterly ridiculous whatever way you look at it. It's like charging £50 for a well made cup of espresso coffee made with good quality arabica beans. Yes, it tastes great and the quality is excellent but you're paying more than you have to.

£1,000 for a "bog standard", off the rack house HH A-2 is silly too. A-2s are not complicated jackets to make, even JC came out back in the day and said so. Yes there's lots of little details and differences between contracts and makers but it's not like handmade, bespoke firearms or even as mentioned above watchmaking. It's a simple leather windbreaker with a shirt collar. One of the reasons why the USAAC/USAAF pursued making them was because they could be made relatively cheaply for what they were.

And there's one real humdinger with all of this.

There's this mythology that's grown up around WWII reproduction clothing and especially repro US WWII clothing that it somehow requires huge amounts of skill and craftmanship to make, and therefore it should command big bucks. It's this that ELC seem to be cashing in on and something that a lot of people fall for.

As some of you know pre-CV I worked as an artefact researcher for an aviation museum here and have handled huge amounts of WWII clothing and kit. US combat clothing and kit is actually pretty pedestrian. First and foremost it's functional, usually not badly put together but often lacking in aesthetic refinement like military kit from all nations. As an aside the best quality military gear is probably German kit from pre 1942/43. It's streets ahead of most Allied clothing and kit in terms of design and quality.

But I digress, people have been suckered into thinking that high quality repro US kit and clothing should have to cost a lot because for some reason it's difficult to make or the materials are difficult to source, etc. For the most part it's not and they're not.

Flynny hit the nail on the head perfectly earlier in this thread. There's no law against ELC charging what they want for what they sell, and actually good on them if they can sell boatloads of the stuff for what they're asking. But there's also no law against stupidity and thinking these sorts of prices are reasonable and justified.

I'd just say before I cop any flak to take a breath and consider again what I wrote above...

Over £300 Sterling for a pair of cotton combat trousers.

Enuff said.
Our government pays half that for our current Chinese made trousers.....
 

917_k

Active Member
I think that in one way, you’ve actually made the case for ELC gear being over priced. Like some of us you realize that ELC products are over priced and you choose not to spend your money subsidizing those high prices. However, if you find an ELC item that’s reasonably priced, you will willingly spend your money for those items. The fact that you don’t give a damn what ELC charges retail, sort of aligns you with some of us in that we don’t care what they charge either, because like yourself we refuse to purchase their goods at those exorbitant prices as well. Not criticizing you .. just thinking about your post.
Fair point and you’re correct to a degree. Could I justify spending full price on their jackets? Probably not (certainly not the non-flight jacket stuff). Do I think they’re a rip-off? I’m not sure.

I have no idea of the profit they’re making on each item, but it’s worth remembering why some companies can charge peanuts for clothing. I’m not going to criticise any of ELCs cheaper competitors because ultimately I don’t know their business set up, but with ELC being based in the U.K. and producing all of their garments here, that will entail paying their workers a fair salary, providing a company pension and possibly other benefits. They will have had to invest a fair bit into the design process and obviously have associated production and marketing costs.

They still make a completely niche product as well and so whilst we may say (I’m not sure how much I believe this) that they’re going after a wealthy Asian market, they’ll still not be selling any of their stuff in the sorts of volumes that other mainstream clothing brands are and that therefore allow for a lower cost pricing model. Heck go look at someone like All Saints who must sell millions of leather jackets, they still charge £300-£400 for a mass market, ‘made in Turkey’ jacket.

Their prices maybe a bit steep at the moment, but as is the case across the whole fashion and clothing world, I think all of us need to reconsider the true cost involved in making garments and where we source our clothing from.
 

917_k

Active Member
Slightly off topic, but not too far i think, I've just done a quick search for Eastman Leather on ebay. No "bargains" today- they all seem "ip there". Even this one, a D-1 at bin of £999 including the seller pointing out it smells and to get it cleaned! :oops: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/174325565426
Yeah that jacket is stupid, but there’s always chancers I suppose. Right now though you can pick up a really good looking B-15 for £375 (or less depending on what offer the seller accepts), there’s an A-2 sat at £255 (auction), and an older and very slightly worn A-2 for £499....Check after this weekends Ebay £1 listing off and I’m sure there will be more.
 

D97x7

Well-Known Member
As much as I really want to support a local company they're sure making it hard not to choose Chinese. :(
 

stanier

Well-Known Member
Yeah that jacket is stupid, but there’s always chancers I suppose. Right now though you can pick up a really good looking B-15 for £375 (or less depending on what offer the seller accepts), there’s an A-2 sat at £255 (auction), and an older and very slightly worn A-2 for £499....Check after this weekends Ebay £1 listing off and I’m sure there will be more.
Yep I've seen the bargains too, although sometimes a bargain isn't all it seems. I have to admit I generally avoid used clothing as I have a bit of a hygiene obsession / phobia I think! Anyway, I do have exceptions and a couple of months or so ago I bought a rare Japanese repro of an even rarer 1950's rayon gabardine jacket from ebay. The seller described it as very good condition. We clearly have different ideas of very good condition! When it arrived it had a deep background smell of cigarette smoke which I think the seller had tried to remove by washing it in a washing machine and the rayon fabric had gone limp and horrible. And worse there were 5 considerable moth nips or nail snags, certainly small holes. I could have sent the jacket back I suppose but it had come to me from Germany and I did want one of the type so I kept it and took it to a clothing restorer. It cost me nearly another £50 to get it properly deep cleaned, the holes invisibly repaired and the fabric re-textured. I love it now but there's a lesson here.

All this talk of ELC is making me think of buying a Perry B-3 even more, but I will hardly wear it!!! Decisions.

Sorry Smithy, and I'm looking forward to a beer with you when we eventually all together at DX or somewhere, but, and although they are not for me at all, those camo pants, for a high end made in Japan, jeans type product, they're probably priced about right, imho, when looking at other high end niche fashion denim competition. I do get, however, that if you want to use them for anything approaching their original purpose and in their original context, they are going to seem way over priced and a complete waste, and in that difference I think is a lot of the source of this thread. I do pay a lot for my repro denim that I do buy and I pay for all the little details that when originals were made were a few bucks, and if I wanted I could still pay a few bucks in Matalan or wherever for cheap blue denim that to most people looks the same.
 

mulceber

Well-Known Member
All this talk of ELC is making me think of buying a Perry B-3 even more, but I will hardly wear it!!! Decisions.
Not to complicate your decision further, @stanier, but as soon as Shawn has some russet shearling, I’m getting a mixed-batch B-3 from him. ;)

Also, in response to the point made above about labor costs in the U.K., this is true, but consider the counter-example of Aero. Ken treats his employees quite well, from what I understand, and offers full custom sizing, unlike ELC. As was remarked earlier in this thread, customization does increase the cost of production in a meaningful way. And yet Ken seems to charge only about 2/3 what Eastman does. I’m sure there are some things Eastman’s doing that increase the cost of production over Aero but....enough to explain charging half again as much?

None of that is to say that people shouldn’t buy from Eastman. I’m just unconvinced by the argument that it’s all or mostly due to labor costs in the U.K.
 
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Pilot

Well-Known Member
Not to complicate your decision further, @stanier, but as soon as Shawn has some russet shearling, I’m getting a mixed-batch B-3 from him. ;)

Also, in response to the point made above about labor costs in the U.K., this is true, but consider the counter-example of Aero. Ken treats his employees quite well, from what I understand, and offers full custom sizing, unlike ELC. As was remarked earlier in this thread, customization does increase the cost of production in a meaningful way. And yet Ken seems to charge only about 2/3 what Eastman does. I’m sure there are some things Eastman’s doing that increase the cost of production over Aero but....enough to explain charging half again as much?

None of that is to say that people shouldn’t buy from Eastman. I’m just unconvinced by the argument that it’s all or mostly due to labor costs in the U.K.
... and taxes.... to pay all the welfare... which no low cost regime has/does...Sorry but I felt it should be pointed out.
 

917_k

Active Member
Not to complicate your decision further, @stanier, but as soon as Shawn has some russet shearling, I’m getting a mixed-batch B-3 from him. ;)

Also, in response to the point made above about labor costs in the U.K., this is true, but consider the counter-example of Aero. Ken treats his employees quite well, from what I understand, and offers full custom sizing, unlike ELC. As was remarked earlier in this thread, customization does increase the cost of production in a meaningful way. And yet Ken seems to charge only about 2/3 what Eastman does. I’m sure there are some things Eastman’s doing that increase the cost of production over Aero but....enough to explain charging half again as much?

None of that is to say that people shouldn’t buy from Eastman. I’m just unconvinced by the argument that it’s all or mostly due to labor costs in the U.K.

Oh for sure, I definitely don’t think ELC’s higher prices are entirely down to their U.K. staffing costs. The simple fact is they can charge more because it’s seen as a premium product. Someone mentioned watches earlier, which is probably a decent analogy to an extent: you can pick up an automatic for <£500 or you can buy a Rolex for £6k+.....

I still think second hand is the way to go. There will be a bunch of posers buying Eastman A-2s etc because they’ve seen it on Instagram, who in a few years time when fashion changes will all be dumping them on EBay or wherever else, for a fraction of the cost.
 

stanier

Well-Known Member
Not to complicate your decision further, @stanier, but as soon as Shawn has some russet shearling, I’m getting a mixed-batch B-3 from him. ;)

Also, in response to the point made above about labor costs in the U.K., this is true, but consider the counter-example of Aero. Ken treats his employees quite well, from what I understand, and offers full custom sizing, unlike ELC. As was remarked earlier in this thread, customization does increase the cost of production in a meaningful way. And yet Ken seems to charge only about 2/3 what Eastman does. I’m sure there are some things Eastman’s doing that increase the cost of production over Aero but....enough to explain charging half again as much?

None of that is to say that people shouldn’t buy from Eastman. I’m just unconvinced by the argument that it’s all or mostly due to labor costs in the U.K.
I'm not sure my personal view is the ELC variance is all down to labour costs though some of it will be no doubt, but I think there are subtle differences between ELC and Aero too. To be clear I love Aero and in my mental bargain list we've discussed elsewhere, I have the Aero Irvin on the list.

I have some issues with Five Star and whilst I applaud Shawn's work ethic and his desire to provide what we want to the smallest detail, I have a real problem with off shoring for a range of reasons. I also have a pet hate of jackets with modern maker labels. But yes for clarity I do have jackets that say Eastman (and others) so perhaps more flexible on that point. I just can't at this time see me ordering a Five Star jacket whatever the price, even though I think the pics look great.
 

Pilot

Well-Known Member
Sure UK taxes are fully comparable... another cost factor are“ raw materials“... not always the same quality nor processing ethics if outside of EU or „ Westernized „ economies....( big discussions wwide nowadays on this subject ...)...
 
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bn1966

Well-Known Member
I still rate Eastmans as a company, have a long standing relationship as a customer & have always been treated well. Thoroughly enjoyed my trip to their new base, a coffee and a look at the merchandise. Tried on a 50 Cal B-3 and it fitted perfect, started saving for one , realised it would get limited wear over here in the UK for the £££ output and spent the money on Vespa tuning goodies instead.....

For me the 'jacket thing' / 'clothes thing' is purely about fun and I'm not bothered about 100% accuracy in a repro (though I do want the essence of it). Don't want rubbish materials either, but happy if it looks good & the quality is sufficient to be fit for it's purpose.

Discovered Five Star on this forum and am starting to rate them as a company and certainly Shawn. Emails always replied to in a respectful and timely fashion, a can do attitude and bending over backwards for his customer base. I've re-discovered some of the excitement I initially felt when I first stumbled across Eastmans. Can now buy a B-3 without feeling guilty and neglecting my Scooter (or having to lie to the Wife about cost) :)
 
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Smithy

Well-Known Member
Sorry Smithy, and I'm looking forward to a beer with you when we eventually all together at DX or somewhere
That's actually what I value more than all the stuff we talk about. Meeting guys and having a few ales with those that you've been having a chinwag online is the icing on the cake for me. At the end of the day it's about a shared and common interest.

I really look forward to shouting you one at the pub when all this CV crap has run its course Stanier. I'm only second generation Kiwi and Mum moved back to the UK after finishing school so I have a lot of family and friends over there and visit the UK often.



Also at the end of the day this whole thread is an exercise in subjectivity and what you're willing to pay.

For me personally ELC have gone too far, I just don't see value for money in what they're offering, they're now well and truly in the realm of rip-off merchants. It seems like a growing number of guys around here feel the same. But there's also members who will gladly pay what ELC are asking and good on them too. This is the free market and capitalism at work as it should be.

This is all about subjective value and that varies from person to person. What I find interesting in things like this is the tipping point for people but that probably stems from my previous life working in advertising and business development.

We're lucky now that we have options which are expanding with the whole repro flying jacket thing. People will buy what they like and what they feel is a worthy price, and it's been that way since people started flogging goats, seashells, eggs to one another thousands of years back ;-)
 

Otter

Well-Known Member
Smithy,
I had missed the fact you were from NZ! We spent 5 weeks over there at the tail end of last year, where abouts are you ?
Daughter gets the opportunity to study abroad next year and is hoping to get the University of Otago.
 

Smithy

Well-Known Member
Smithy,
I had missed the fact you were from NZ! We spent 5 weeks over there at the tail end of last year, where abouts are you ?
Daughter gets the opportunity to study abroad next year and is hoping to get the University of Otago.
I've lived a long time in Oz but I was born and grew up in NZ - Auckland although with Mum's side of the family we have farms around Gisborne so I spent a lot of school holidays around that neck of the woods.

My sister lives down in the South Island in Christchurch. Dunedin and the uni there are excellent, your daughter would have a blast there, it's a real student town.
 
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