Discerning race car drivers and airplane pilots have a secret -- when they need to drive or fly in style, they do so while wearing Chapal! Ok, even if you don't burn tire rubber or perform aerial acrobatics for a living, Chapal is still a fantastic option for getting around in style. It'll transport you with feelings of awe, warmth, and comfort, as you carry on your shoulders a storied house with an incredible heritage.
Few businesses that started two centuries ago are still relevant today. Chapal, is one such fine example. Founded in 1832, Chapal has a storied history and encapsulates true savoir faire in its offerings.
Chapal was founded by Leonard Chapal, who created a namesake business that was famous for being a tannery and fur maker. 100 years later, Chapal diversified into creating leather jackets and finished garments, and started building the foundation for what would eventually be one of the world’s premier leather jacket makers.
The first manufacture was in Crocq (France) and in the 1880s, they opened four more manufactures in Brooklyn (New York, USA). During World War 1 in the 1910s they made leather jackets for French pilots. In the 1930s, they successfully created a revolutionary process that waterproofed their leather, which led to the B3 jacket for the US Army. In the 1960s, they branched into car racing, creating not just jackets, but also overalls, gloves, and helmets. From the 1970s to 1990s, they were highly sought after in the luxury industry, and most famously manufactured leather and fur clothing for the luxury brand Christian Dior. Over the past 20 years, Chapal continued to work with other luxury brands, and also stayed close to its DNA by delving deeper into the aircraft and car racing worlds.
Chapal is still owned and managed by the founding family today.
Purchasing an item from Chapal is akin to purchasing almost 200 years of savoir faire where their tradition of workmanship and handicraft is highly evident in the quality.
Today, all items are handcrafted in their Crocq, France workshop where a master cutter is responsible for selecting and cutting the hide, and then one craftsman creates the finished garment from beginning to end. This is true craftsmanship in the luxury world – to draw a parallel to the high art of watchmaking, all the most complicated watches at Patek Phillippe and Audemars Piguet are also made by a single craftsman. This creates more cohesiveness and clarity during the creation process, and allows the maker to more intimately connect with their art, thereby creating a better product.
We will let you in on a secret…our favorite feature of Chapal is that each craftsman actually leaves their signature on a hidden label. We won’t tell you where it is – but after you purchase a jacket, look for it, and tag us on Instagram with a picture!
On the USAAF and A1, the leather is waxed during the production process and after quality control is complete, it is hand patinaed with beeswax. These two layers of wax create a water-resistant leather (a Chapal hallmark) and help defend it from light snow or rain. The most water-resistant jacket from Chapal is the RAF, which is treated even further and is waterproof, and can withstand a snowstorm!
One unique feature of the A1 is that the leather on the back of the garment is made from one entire piece (a wholecut) as opposed to a patchwork of multiple pieces, which exemplifies Chapal’s mastery and commitment to excellence.
Quality control is integral to Chapal and multiple controls in the process help ensure a flawless end-product. After an item passes the final step, a certificate of authenticity is produced.
From the emblematic A1 jacket designed for the U.S. Army Air Corp in 1927 to the iconic biker leather jacket worn by James Dean, Chapal garments are timeless pieces of art that stand the test of time with their modern relevance. Aviation and car racing are the design inspirations for this brand. You can pair a Chapal jacket with just about anything: the USAAF with a suit or the RAF jacket with a pair of jeans.
The USAAF lining is typically done in heavy gabardine, in the colors beige or navy blue. For a small extra cost, you can line it instead in Fox Brothers fabric, one of the world’s finest luxury mills out of Wellington, U.K., that was established in 1772. We highly recommend Fox Brothers Flannel or Prince of Wales fabric, which is what we personally do for ourselves. It not only looks good but is also a stealthy luxurious detail that only you would know about. In addition, Fox Brothers wool will give you extra warmth so if you live in a place where the weather can get pretty cold, this minor upgrade will go a long way.
By the way, in the USAAF, in-between the gabardine or Fox Brothers fabric and the leather lies a thick polyester layer that acts as synthetic down, and insulates you even further.
The A1 jacket’s lining is typically cotton poplin, and you can also request a silk lining instead. There is no inner polyester lining on the A1 as it is meant to be a light jacket.
Chapal is one of the very best manufacturers in the world when it comes to leather jackets, and its rich heritage and loyal following are a great testament. Furthermore, luxury brand houses such as Christian Dior and others have entrusted Chapal to manufacture for them over several decades, so you can be sure that what you’re purchasing is at an incredible value.
The garment you acquire will last you a lifetime, accompany you through snowstorms or adrenaline-pumping track races, and will also be that special gift, embedded with a small part of yourself that you will cherish and hand down to the next generation.
The sheep leather used in Chapal’s creations are sustainably sourced from Aveyron (Les Causses) where they are raised free and are native to a mountain range near Montpellier, in the southeastern region of France. Chapal also sources sustainable sheep from Australia and Colorado, USA.
At Chapal’s manufacture in Crocq (France) their highly-skilled artisan team of tanners, dyers, cutters, and tailors produce garments in small limited batches and still employ timeless and traditional techniques that exhibit their extraordinary know-how.