Pressing Questions

The Gilt MAN Q&A: Greg Chapman of Schott NYC

The iconic brand’s creative director talks with us about the company’s history, his favorite jackets, and how he’s putting himself together as we roll into winter.

Photo: Tom MedvedichIf the idea of a Brit at the helm of a quintessentially American institution like Schott NYC gives you pause, you obviously aren’t acquainted with Sir Greg Chapman. Though he hails from The Old Smoke, the man knows his Americana better than even the most rabid stateside style enthusiast. And that’s why there’s arguably no one better suited to setting the company on its way to another century of success than the impressively bearded gentleman currently serving as creative director. Since we’re lucky enough to feature Schott on Gilt MAN for the first time today, we decided to have a chat with Greg about his archives, his role as designer of the imprint collection Perfecto Brand by Schott NYC, and what exactly makes the perfect peacoat.

So, can tell us about how you got involved with Schott, and how you started designing the Perfecto Brand collection?
Well, Schott’s been creating outerwear in the USA for 98 years. As an avid vintage collector, I’ve got many Schott jackets in my archive, and I’ve been wearing my Schott duffle coat for 20 years. I met Jason Schott, we decided to create a line of modern jackets for men inspired by his family’s classic designs and history, and so the Perfecto Brand by Schott NYC collection was born.

Obviously the leather garments are (deservedly) famous. But tell us about what goes into your other outerwear designs. What’s their history? Do they spring from a different source of inspiration?
Schott started selling sheepskin lined raincoats on the Lower East Side in 1913. Irving Schott was actually the first person to put a zipper on a piece of outerwear, and he designed the modern day motorcycle jacket, The Perfecto, in 1928. Beyond that, the Schott family made bomber jackets and wool peacoats for the US Armed forces during WWII, and in the 70’s we did a lot of business with down filled nylon jackets. We’ve got a lot of authentic materials that we work with. Denim, canvas, nylon, wool, leather, shearling, suede, cotton, and satin are just a few!

As for inspiration: Schott’s made jackets for the NYPD, rock and roll legends like Bruce Springsteen and The Ramones, rebels like Marlon Brando and James Dean. There’s a lot of history within the brand to work with.

What goes into a perfect peacoat? What makes it an essential item for gents?
The classic wool peacoat that Schott made for the US Navy in WWII is a double-breasted, single vented coat made from heavy melton wool and finished with 10 anchor crested buttons. It’s an iconic, rugged piece of Americana rich with military history. All men should have at least one in their lifetime.

How does the mainline inform your work on Perfecto?
There’s so much history in the Schott archives. For Perfecto Brand, I take my inspiration from our classic styles from the 30’s through the 60’s. Right now I’m very inspired by the American West. I love driving through the desert from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. The open space and the colors are moving.

Schott is still family owned and you make everything in America, no?
The majority of Schott NYC product is made in our own factory in New Jersey, and we’re proud to be able to produce many of our classic styles in the USA. It’s part of who we are as a brand.

You are yourself a very stylish chap. How are you putting together your layers as the weather cools off this year?
I have a large collection of vests that I layer with key outerwear pieces like a peacoat or a leather jacket. My standard winter look consists of chunky cable knit sweaters and selvage denim with a watch cap. I’ve been wearing my Schott suede rancher coat a lot this season, too.  Oh, and I have over a hundred pairs of boots, and look forward to wearing them all year long.

Schott, on sale now on Gilt MAN.

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