I don’t think it is a secret that many of the Japanese brands which we love and and admire draw inspiration from vintage American work-wear, if you were to look into the flannels produced by American brands such as Five Brothers, Frostproof and Work N Sport from the 50’s right into the 80’s you would see a great many familiar patterns, materials and details. So when I was presented with the opportunity to purchase a 70’s flannel by the now defunct brand Frostproof which had provided clear inspiration to one of my favourite flannels in years, the Jelado winter flannel, I could not resist putting them side by side for comparison. What follows is my analysis, and more than that it is great lesson in what Jelado do, and why they are so damn good at it.
Jelado on the left, Frostproof on the right
Jelado are a Tokyo based brand who take their love of vintage clothing very seriously. Their owner Yohei Goto is an avid collector of vintage clothing and has been since working in vintage store as a young student. Where other brands take established designs and either directly reproduce or modernise well known classics, Jelado’s methods are in many ways subtle and focus on maintaining the look of the vintage garment, whist improving every aspect of cut, quality and design. The other area where Jelado stand out from the crowd is in the garments they choose, rather than just focusing on well known items they also they also select pieces by lesser known and now defunct American manufacturers for the Jelado treatment.
To illustrate exactly what Jelado do I have taken one of their winter flannels from their latest collection and done a detailed comparison with a vintage (1970’s) flannel by now defunct US brand Frostproof who, along with New Yorks Five Brother brand, made extremely well regarded flannel shirts and work-wear from the 1940’s up until the 1980’s. On first inspection there is absolutely no denying that the shirts look extremely similar, this is purposely done by Jelado as they love the original and would not want to change its aesthetic in any major way, it is only when we look closer that we can see exactly what they have done.
The pockets on the vintage Frostproof shirt are finished to a rounded point, as was popular on work shirts of the time, the Jelado version has flat bottomed pockets as they realise that most of us will at some point keep our phones in this pocket. The tapered pocket end of the vintage shirt could be worn through caused by the uneven pressure of carrying a flat item in a pointed pocket.
The material on first inspection looks identical (the image below show the Jelado fabric above the Frostproof), the vintage shirt is obviously much softer as it has been nicely worn in over many years but the material on the Jelado shirt is more tightly woven and therefore feels heavier. This has the added bonus of making the shirt more wind resistant and definitely warmer.
The stitch pattern on the Jelado shirt is more even, and with a much higher stitch count. This makes each seam far more durable the the Frostproof shirt. Also Jelado use a much more durable double stitch felled seam in far more high wear areas. (The image below shows Jelado at the top of the picture).
The cut of the shirt has been lightly tweaked rather than revolutionised, the Jelado shirt is cut slightly longer in the body and sleeve, and is a touch more fitted.
The final thoughts on the comparison are that what Jelado do is more evolution than revolution, they take what is already great and make it even better whilst maintaining the aesthetic which made them love the piece in the first place. The make small tweaks to the cut, alter design features and improve the quality of the material and manufacture to give us a superior product.