First, we wanted to make a jacket that was dependable.
A jacket that would just simply work—day in and day out, year after year.
For that we drew from our decade of experience doing what we do best: building stuff that lasts a really long time.
We brought in some friends from the garment industry to lend their authority to the project too, and we went to the drawing board with the aim of designing a jacket that was at once tough and timeless, durable and dependable.
Then we watched some Steve McQueen movies.
Fashion can be fickle, and if we intended to make a jacket that would last longer than most presidential administrations, it seemed obvious to draw inspiration from the King of Cool himself.
Influenced by the enduring style of the classic military field coat, with its timeless silhouette and utilitarian understatedness, we wanted the Lakewood to look as good on the back of a Triumph Bonneville than it would for 9 p.m. reservations downtown at Nobu.
To achieve that, we knew exactly where to look: Bridgeport, New Jersey.
Maybe not the first (or even second) place when thinking of “cool,” but that’s where you’ll find Martin Dyeing and Finishing Company, who today produce the same sought-after, durable waxed canvas they did when they established in 1838.
That’s over 200 years of quality and expertise, and we think that’s cool as hell.
We went with Martin Co.’s 10.10 ounce army duck, a midweight waxed canvas, with a weighty, robust finish, that still feels incredibly soft at hand, and only looks more handsome the more it’s worked in.
You can read more about our Waxed Canvas here, but we're also doing a version of the Lakewood Jacket using our 500D Multicam Cordura. To learn more about our Cordura, you can check out our blog post here.
With the design direction and materials sorted out, we then decided to do something completely different…
Offering each and every customer the opportunity to custom design their own jacket might sound like a logistical nightmare, because for most it very possibly could be.
But we’ve been around the block a few times, and have gotten pretty good at this DIY (design-it-yourself) sort of thing.
We love empowering our customers with the ability to make themselves something truly personal, something that they’ll hopefully cherish for years to come, so we’ve offered our customers the option to custom design their bags and accessories for many years.
In fact, custom work has become one of our core competences, and likely always will be. So in the end, the decision to offer full customization for the Lakewood Jacket was actually kind of a no-brainer. We think making stuff is cool, and we encourage everyone to make cool stuff as much as they can. But not everyone has access to industrial bartack machines or giant laser cutters, so the custom option is our very small way of supporting our customers to do something different and express themselves.
The last piece of the puzzle had to do with getting the word out. We’re pretty excited about the Lakewood, but sharing that excitement with an already crowded marketplace can be a little tricky.
That’s why we’ve decided to return to Kickstarter for the official launch.
We’ve always appreciated Kickstarter’s very active, and very honest, user community. We’ve used crowdfunding with success in the past to raise awareness of new product lines, while offering our core supporters early-bird discounts. Feel free to view coverage of crowdfunded product launches of ours, such as our Wildland Scout Backpack, or our Magnetica line of bags and accessories.
But given the all-or-nothing nature of these crowdfunded campaigns, successful funding is always anything but a sure thing.
It’s either a good product, or it’s not, and Kickstarter users can sniff an insincere marketing pitch from a mile away. As a result, the integrity of the community is continuously preserved, and we like that about them. In return, the community holds us accountable, and drives us to truly deliver durable, dependable gear that's built to last—and not just talk about it (although we do love to talk about it too).
And that’s the story of how the Lakewood Jacket came about. We like to think of it as a small act of defiance in an era of fast-fashion and throw-away culture.
If you think about it, the idea of a making a durable, long-lasting jacket shouldn’t be an interesting one, but the fact that you’re (maybe) still reading this perhaps demonstrates otherwise.
Click here to check out the Lakewood Custom Builder. Who knows, you might make something that you think is cool too.