Conners Sewing Factory WWII Type I Denim Jacket Review

Unlike many in the raw denim world, I own very few denim jackets. As of right now, I own one, the very jacket that I am reviewing today. Before that, I only owned one previously in my adult life. In fact, it took me four years of wearing raw denim to buy that first raw denim jacket. Much of the reason for this is the fact that the majority of denim jackets on the market are Type III jackets and I truly detest the look of those jackets. To my eyes, they are too angular, busy, and awkwardly designed. On top of that, I never loved Type II jackets and never saw a Type I that truly stood out to me.

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However, that all changed when I came across Conners Sewing Factory. Readers of the blog and my Instagram know that I really love this brand and the details present on this WWII model (‘S406XXX M-WW2 San Francisco’ to give its full title on the CSF website) Type I jacket will certainly show why this is the case. From the first look, it is obvious that this is not like most denim jackets. It is not even similar to most Type I jackets.

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Not modernized in any way, this jacket does not have had warmer pockets or additional length, two characteristics that I loathe in denim jacket designs.  Instead, as with most CSF products, this is an extremely exacting and precise reproduction of what a denim jacket was during WWII. I will spare you the extremely nerdy details here and urge you to visit Denimbro or Superdenim if you want to see the in depth discussions about all of the incredible CSF details. Instead, I will point out the most obvious details mentioned on the brand’s website and what pops out to me personally.

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DSCF0334The beautiful details

Firstly and most obviously, the front buttons are laurel buttons and there are only four of them instead of five. In addition, the pocket flap has been removed and the jacket simply has an open single front pocket. I love how both of these features very clearly set this jacket apart from most others and give it a unique look and feel.  From my experience, Type I jackets are the most rare denim jackets and details like this make this particular model stand out even more. Better yet is the fact that these details are historically accurate. Along with the construction methods employed, these details make this jacket more than a simple reproduction.

DSCF0332I love the lack of flap on the pocket

However, the coolest feature of this jacket by far is the one piece sleeve detail. Most cotton/fabric jackets are made with either two or sometimes three piece sleeve construction. Making a sleeve from one piece is extremely impressive, especially given when it is executed this well and on top of the fact that Konaka-San, the sole maker of the high end CSF jeans hand folds all of his seems. Woven jackets and sweatshirts will have tubular or one pieces sleeves, but for a denim jacket to have it is quite rare. Another available feature for this jacket is a t back option. This is available on larger size jackets and is very desirable according to my friend Dr. Heech, who I have discussed this feature with before. Personally, I like the one piece back simply because of how it keeps the look simple and fits with the one piece sleeve detail, but I am not a vintage expert the way Dr. Heech is.

DSCF0340This was the only way I could think to show off the one piece sleeve detail

As to be expected, the stitching and overall construction is typical Conner’s fare. The seems are hand folded, the stitching is accurately imperfect, but still structurally sound. I must point out as I did in my first Conners review that despite the imperfect stitching and use of 100% cotton stitching, myself and the other members of Denimbro who own CSF products have had little to no issue with the durability of the stitching. I personally have had a minor issue with the lighter weight denim from another model, but I have had had no issue with the actual construction of my Conners products. In fact, my friend Flash has remarked more than once about how impressed he has been with the durability of his Conners Sewing Factory jeans.

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DSCF0345Threads are loose, but everything is secure where it needs to be

This is important because while the jeans are purposefully imperfect, they are still structurally quite sound which makes them all the more impressive. The final detail of major note is the denim itself. As with my WWII jeans, this jacket is made with the Conners WWII fabric. This, as with all CSF standard denims is a proprietary fabric and is very impressive. Being someone who owns all three standard fabrics, I have to say that this is my personal favorite. It has a wonderful texture being more irregular than the other two and in my opinion, in possession of greater character.

Despite this, it is certainly not a slub fest. It is meant to recreate the irregularities present during WWII denim production and nothing more. The slight slubbing can be seen in the front, but is felt much more when being worn. It is not overly rough or uncomfortable, but it certainly not smooth like a tight, sanforized fabric. It is not overly starchy or rigid, but not soft either. To me, it is a beautiful balance of character and restraint and is one of my personal favorite denim fabrics, behind only the best RJB offerings.

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DSCF0341Some slubbing and hairiness, but nothing too extreme

There is really only one issue that I have with this jacket and that is the fit. The length is perfect as is the chest, but the shoulders and especially the sleeves are on the large side. The full measurements are as follows:

Chest: 22”

Shoulders: 19.5”

Back Length: 24”

Arm Length: 24”

Of course, this is not really a problem with the jacket and if the shoulders were a bit smaller, the sleeve length would be perfect for me. However, something that I genuinely do not like about the jacket is how large the arms are. The arm hole is very wide and the arms remain very wide until the cuff. This makes the jacket look baggy on me and appear to be a slightly poor fit, despite the fact that the body fits quite well overall. This also exacerbates the length issue with the arms. If they fit slimmer, I would simply cuff them to take care of the length issue, but the arms are so wide that cuffing them makes them appear even wider.

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I am unsure if this is because of the one piece sleeve, is accurate to how the original models fit, or is simply a design choice by Konaka-San. Either way, it is a slight issue for me, but is not enough to make me stop wearing the jacket. I still believe it is the most unique and thoughtful crafted Type I jacket available and overall, I love it. While seemingly minor, the fit of the arms does genuinely bother me and is something I would be unhappy about even if it was completely accurate to the way the original example fit. If it was due to anything other than historical accuracy, I would like to see the fit of the arms refined slightly in the future. On the other hand, many others may prefer this type of fit so at the end of the day, this is not truly a flaw.

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With that said, this is still my one and only denim jacket and I do not see this changing any time soon. The price of 45,000 Yen (roughly $400 USD) is steep, but the quality is high and there is really nothing else like this jacket available. A couple other brands offer this type of WWII jacket, but none are constructed with the same materials, the same methods, the same skill, and the same passion as this jacket is. There really is nothing like CSF on the market. In fact, there hasn’t been anything like Conners Sewing Factory since 1947 and even that was not a one man brand with this level of dedication.

DSCF9760You can see how wide the jacket looks when the sleeves are cuffed…

As with everything else that passes through Yoshiaki Konaka’s masterful hand and period correct sewing machines, their market is a niche within a niche within a niche, but nothing else truly compares. I highly suggest giving this brand a look. If the products are of any interest to you at all, you will not be disappointed. If reproduction denim is not your thing and classic fits are as unappealing to you as the Saw films are to me, you should look to brands such as RJB, SOC, SDA, PBJ, TFH, TSG, RFG, or RGT, rather than CSF. More than any other pieces of clothing that I own, the Conners jeans and jacket that I have are the products that benefit most from being experienced in person. It is impossible to put into words just how special these products are. The brand is not for everyone, but for those it is for, there is nothing else.

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Follow Dr Heech here: https://www.instagram.com/dr_heech/

Follow Flash here: https://www.instagram.com/flash_sufu/

 

 

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