Style / April 2018

Invest: Chapal Tobacco AE 1932 Suede Jacket

The Chapal tobacco AE suede jacket not only exudes the spirit of exploration, independence and bravery but also offers scope for dressier versatility.

By the time she disappeared somewhere over the central Pacific Ocean, during a doomed attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in a Lockheed Model 10-E Electra, Amelia Earhart’s legacies included becoming the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic (for which she received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross), a wealth of bestselling books about her aviation experiences, and the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organisation that provides professional opportunities to women in aviation.

An addition to Earhart’s legacy is this tobacco suede jacket, inspired by the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland. It is made by Chapal, the French producer of leather jackets and coats whose backstory more than qualifies it to cut audacious pieces such as this. Originally founded in France in 1832 as a tannery (a facility it still has in-house), Chapal’s early contributions to aviation fabric technology — including ways to improve shearling’s water-resistance — prompted military authorities to commission the house to provide jackets for the French air force during WWI and the Army Air Corps in 1922. Helmed by Jean-François Bardinon (representing the sixth generation of the family) since the early 1980s, the brand also offers footwear as well as jackets that manifest Bardinon’s love of vintage motoring — well worth checking out if you share his affection for an ilk of outerwear that has a hefty Britpop/mod tinge to it.

The brand’s aviation outerwear lines remain the dominant strands of its DNA, though. The Chapal tobacco AE 1932 is crafted from sheep’s leather and features a cotton lining and knitted cuffs as well as large flap pockets at the front, tortoiseshell buttons and a non-intrusive collar, which vastly improves its layering credentials. Of course, any aviation jacket exudes the spirit of exploration, independence, bravery and confidence. But this, along with its stablemate, the tobacco A1 — also available from — offers something different: more scope for nattier, dressier versatility. There aren’t many flight jackets under which a knitted tie looks as in situ as a polo or roll-neck, and this is a clear example of a garment genre bowling a googly. Given how harmoniously the rich tobacco hue sings with darker blues, we recommend an indigo-dyed denim shirt and/or smart navy trousers to make up a covetable ensemble.