Buzz Rickson’s Black MA-1 Bomber Jacket
Cayce Pollard, brand-phobic coolhunter at the center of Pattern Recognition, adores her Japanese-made replica of a standard issue U.S. Air Force flying jacket.
The Rickson’s is a fanatical museum-grade replica of a U.S. MA-1 flying jacket, as purely functional and iconic a garment as the previous century produced…Cayce’s MA-1 trumps any attempt at minimalism, the Rickson’s having been created by Japanese obsessives driven by passions having nothing at all to do with anything remotely like fashion…It is an imitation more real somehow than that which it emulates.
The Rickson’s is a quite real jacket, emblematic for Gibson of the almost religious craftsmanship of Japanese garment makers. Buzz Rickson’s is, in fact, a Japanese clothing company founded in 1993 that specializes in replica vintage flight jackets, one of which is the MA-1. According to their site:
We carefully research and analyze existing vintage flight jackets. We then make every effort to duplicate the material paying close attention to the woven fabric techniques. Firstly, we clarify the exact time the material was made by examining the structure of the fiber, weaving method and spinning technology. For instance, in the case of nylon, we examine the existing nylons to confirm the melting point and conduct an infrared ray spectrum analysis to determine the change in infrared rays and temperature…
And so on. You can find out more about their process, including microscopic photos of nylon threads at their website. The MA-1 was one of the first nylon bomber jackets, designed in the 1950s to replace its bulkier predecessors and keep up with the advance of smaller jets traveling at higher altitudes. You can get MA-1 replicas from various sellers, of varying qualities, but it’s hard to imagine anything topping the Rickson’s. They recreate the colors and the fading of the fabric down to the molecular level.
Cayce wears a black MA-1 jacket, in keeping with her all-black minimal style that accommodates her unique condition. In a marketing twist worthy of a Gibson story, the black MA-1 did not actually exist (the USAF only issued green MA-1s), until Pattern Recognition prompted Buzz Rickson’s to create one as part of its “William Gibson Collection.” This would make the black Rickson’s a perfect replica of a fictional garment, modeled after the real-life perfect replica of an actual vintage item. They are, of course, out of stock from Rickson’s and difficult to find.