East West Musical Instruments and a GirlBoss Review

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Oh Please, don’t let me have wasted an hour of my life watching Netflix’s “GirlBoss”.

Though I will be first to admit I only watched it because all the promos featured a Vintage East West Musical Instruments jacket.  And the jacket is an integral plot point.

It’s the “Parrot” jacket that was the inspiration for my “Homage” Swan Jacket in the Mid 1990’s – which has a funny story behind it. (after the Break)

But first,  my review of the first episode and no, I have not read the book but I do have to say I was very impressed (in real time) by what seemed to be Sophia Amoruso’s mad, mad business skills.

(I’d bought a vintage poncho off the original ebay store back in the day. So I was totally aware of Nasty Gal’s humble beginnings.)

I was as shocked as anybody when Nasty Gal declared chapter 11.  I had seen the stratospheric rise and heard about the massive amounts of venture capital it had raised. ($69 Million or so in total.)  How do you blow through that much money so quickly to only gross $77 million at the end of it?  Beats me and I don’t think that’s gonna be part of the plot line of “GirlBoss”, which is a real shame.

So now, my review – based on one episode.  Yes, I know to be fair I, will have to give it at least one or two more shot’s before vote is really in – though it will be hard at the rate it’s going.

Since “Sophia”, in the first episode has been written without one single redeeming character trait!  I think they are trying to make her out as plucky,  but she comes across as lazy, spoilt and entitled.  The only positive portrayed is her nose for vintage and her sense to photograph it nicely!  But there is absolutely NOTHING admirable in her character, so far. UGH. Unfortunately, this is way too emblematic of the Fashion Industry today.

Can I do negative stars???

So far, the pilot episode’s not worth the trashing of a real original East West Musical Instruments company jacket – I cringed when I saw some of the abuse – and it sure as heck appeared to be the real thing – unlined, wonky loose facings, and it’s never zipped up.  Honestly. those original jackets had a bizarre fit. The Medium sized one I worked with first hand would barely have fit a skinny 12 year old boy in the 1990’s.  Let alone zipped up on a girl.  Yes, those jackets are absolutely art, but not to wear, not today!

This is probably the Jacket featured in the show since each jacket seems to have been made in unique colors.  The concept & design is a true work of Art. I especially love the colors on this one.

So now, to the funny story… about the Homage to East West Musical Instruments, I created back in the mid 1990’s.

I was working with Patricia Field at the time, I had been selling my World Domination Line to her and by 1995 she had been repping my line for sales for a while. One day she came to me with this absurdly tiny and insanely beautiful leather jacket.  It was one of EWMIC’s famous parrot jackets.  She asked if I could do a jacket like it for her shop. I jumped at the chance to do a modern, wearable homage to such a beautifully designed piece.

I wanted it to be a faithful as possible, visually, but it needed to fit a real body and a “rub-off” – well, no way was that happening!  That jacket bore no relation to a human adult body at this point!

“Rub-Offs” are a huge problem in the industry – since any and all the original fit issues just get telegraphed and made-worse and worse, with each iteration.  It’s even worse now than it was 20 years ago since the speed of the cycle has sacrificed any attempt at fit – to the maw of commerce.  Heck – god forbid time is spent on developing a new pattern!

It took about a month to re-create the jacket with an all new fit and with re-coloring it became a “Swan”.  It was also properly finished and fully lined.  Sad to say no stash pocket- none of us knew WTF that was under the collar!  Yes, embarrassing, but as a proper NY/NJ punk- I’d been oblivious to the line & it’s history and that substance was not so much on people’s radar at the time.

We put  the new  Swan jacket front and center at the next trade show we did, and it got a lot of attention.  But the attention that was the best was when this older gentleman approached the booth raving about the jacket!  Turned out he had been a salesman for EWMIC.

His name was Freddy Solomon and he said he had been responsible for selling over $825,000.00 of their jackets back in the 70’s and he could tell that the one in front of him now, actually fit.  He said that fit was a big issue with the line back in the day – I don’t know,  all I know is people were smaller, slenderer and since the designer likely based the fit on himself, (which happens a lot – even today)  all of that could explain the teeny-tiny, absolutely curve-less fit.

I do know is I was thrilled that he appreciated the homage I’d created and was flabbergasted at how many jackets $825G would have been in the early 1970’s! We struck up a casual friendship over this, and I got to hear great stories about the incredible creativity of the designer, Norman and the wonderful times had working there.  From Freddy I got a real sense of regret and even sorrow that the company was never able to fulfill the financial success he felt the collective of talent deserved. He spoke of EWMIC with tremendous fondness and admiration of the work.  He felt they fell into the trap of giving out too far many favors in the form of goods to celebs and friends and they and were never able to get the fit right for the much broader market they were beginning to explore.

I am just glad that they left behind the body of work that they did, it will inspire others forever.  Check out my updated Homage Jacket Here & Read more about the really interesting history of this  legendary company.

My original bright Silver 1990’s era Archival Sample is pictured.  There were 6 of these jackets made in total.  We have updated the fit & now offer this jacket on a MTO basis in our standard sizes (2-8), we can make it in the original colorway and can customize it in wide range of  metallic, pearlized and regular leathers. We can also offer this style Custom fit to you, which would be additional. You can order this jacket here.

Interested in a Custom Swan?

2 Comments on “East West Musical Instruments and a GirlBoss Review”

  1. I have that jacket. Bought it back when I was in 9th grade from a head shop. Cost $200 back in 1971

    1. Wow – I always wondered what those jackets cost back in the day! Freddy was never very clear on that point. He really sold thousands of them! All coming out of that little SF Factory! Pretty amazing, plus in 1971 200$ was like 1215$ today – for an unlined cowhide jacket – and today a collector’s piece – Very, very nice work!

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