In 1904, a Polish immigrant named Isaac Spiewak opened a garment shop in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn and began to manufacture sheepskin vests for New York City dockworkers. By the time WWI rolled around, Spiewak was making pea coats for the US military, and when the Second World War broke out, the company was supplying flight jackets as well. As the war waned, much of that gear flooded back into the states, creating the first Army/Navy stores and giving many civilian consumers their first taste of Spiewak’s highly functional, military-designed garments.
Now with his brothers on-board, Spiewak’s post-war business expanded into more fashion-oriented consumer lines while continuing to produce uniforms for police, fire, and EMS departments around the country (they’ve also outfitted American Airlines’ ground crew for 50 years). By the final decades of the century though, Spiewak’s “House of the Golden Fleece” (the label’s recognizable flying ram logo is a nod to the famous Greek myth) had spun off into several different—and sometimes competing—lines. So in the 1990s Spiewak consolidated, forming Golden Fleece (typically reserved for limited edition) and the namesake line, which handles both the fashion and the uniform aspects of the brand.
These days Spiewak is still a privately-owned, family company, and it continues to create both workwear-inspired jackets for civvies and gear for those who serve, making for a heritage brand with a serious amount of street cred. Spiewak recently reintroduced Martexin hand-waxed fabrics from a Pennsylvania finishing house they’ve worked with for 50 years, along with melton wools. They’ve also been going the collaboration route too, most notably with designer Mark McNairy on a series of parkas. And while you certainly don’t need to be on a flight deck in the North Atlantic or the Brooklyn Navy Yard to wear one, when the temps drop it’s nice to know they can stand up to both.