By Anthony Galasso
Last week, of Iron & Oak journeyed up to Union, N.J. to visit Schott NYC‘s breathtaking factory. We’re huge fans of the 100-year-old company and can’t get enough of their fine leather apparel laced with threads of rich American heritage. It was an honor and a privilege to be surrounded by the noise of the factory, the slew of hard workers and the wealth of history that continues to accompany Schott NYC as they celebrate their 100th anniversary.
You see, Schott NYC is one of the last living, breathing testaments to the American dream, a brand characteristic that most American men can appreciate. Beginning in 1913, the company thrived by selling handcrafted raincoats door to door. Eventually they launched to new heights and were soon asked to produce a series of bomber jackets and peacoats for American fighter pilots and Naval personnel during World War I & II.
Over time, countless American celebrities such as Marlon Brando, James Dean and Bruce Springsteen have been seen wearing Schott’s breakthrough Perfecto jacket, a staple to Schott NYC’s historic collection and the first motorcycle jacket to incorporate a zipper. It’s been said that James Dean himself could hardly be seen without his Perfecto jacket. This was the jacket that launched the idea of the American bad ass, which, as a result, caused the jacket to be banned from schools in the ’50s. You know your product has officially “made it” in American society once it’s banned from schools.
Although it’s easy to get caught up in everything that Schott NYC has accomplished throughout the years, we wanted to get down to the very heart of the company. We wanted to peel back the curtain and peak behind the scenes to see what makes Schott NYC continuously run like a well-oiled machine. We wanted to see Schott’s factory.
Upon walking into the factory, it was mind-blowing to see just how big it was. There were rows upon rows of sewing machines, gigantic canvas baskets filled with a variety of fabrics and leathers, and a plethora of templates that lined the walls from floor to ceiling, used to cut various shapes and sizes from the fabrics. The factory even had a “tumbler”, a massive wooden wheel with big wooden spokes inside. We learned that once the leather jackets are finished, the leather may be a bit too stiff, so they’re tossed into the tumbler for a while. The tumbler then spins, acting like a giant wooden hamster wheel, and beats the hell out of the jackets to soften up the leather, giving them a more worn in feel. We know. Bad ass.
The factory was also filled with diligent workers, each performing their separate tasks. Some workers cut out fabrics for pea coats while others strategically sewed them back together. Some workers were tasked with adding buttons, zippers, clips and belts to jackets while others prepped them to be shipped off.
One thing was for sure though, every Schott employee was hyper focused, proving their master craftsmanship. Each and every employee at Schott NYC’s factory worked as hard as they could together to produce exceptionally fine jackets. Occasionally, one would look up from their work, smile and then continue working to perfect that iconic Perfecto jacket that America has grown to love so much.
It’s no secret that flourishing factories, once the backbone of America, are now running scarce in this country. It’s good to see that, over the past 100 years, Schott NYC hasn’t strayed too far from their original vision. They’ve stayed true to their brand and, as a result, have built an army of loyal customers. Live the dream, Schott NYC. Live the dream. Happy 100th anniversary. Visit Schott NYC at www.schottnyc.com for your very own handcrafted piece of history.
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