The Indiana Jones Jacket: The Last Crusade
The Last Crusade Jacket
For Last Crusade, Peter Botwright—the jacket maker for Raiders—was chosen to return and recreate the now famous jacket. One would think this an easy transition, but the road as not as smooth as one might figure it to be. The road to the Last Crusade jacket had many twists and turns.
Many things happened following the production and release of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Lucasfilm (LFL) had its taste of licensing and the results were mixed. With respect to the jacket, the results were poor. The following was reported in an internal licensing and merchandising memo dated February 13,1985:
- Unit sales failed to meet 6 month forecasts
- Licensee’s distribution channels realized 32% of forecasted net throughput
- Gross units ordered and shipped were only 47% of forecast
- Actual returns for defects of 23% exceeded forecast of 5%
- Actual returns for unsold inventory of 20% exceeded forecast of 12%
The findings are summarized and paraphrased here:
- Coopers defects were higher than promised (and higher than industry
- Coopers distribution channels could not support sales to the target
- Market research indicated that the pricing was too high, independent of the quality.
The final paragraph of that memo refers to an internal LFL/Paramount merchandising initiative, and the comparative advantage of merchandising products under a “private labeling” program rather than licensing. The bottom line…they chose the wrong partner and they priced too aggressively.
All of this happened after Temple of Doom and before Last Crusade, at a time when Cooper was struggling as a company. Talking to people who knew Neil Cooper over the years attested to his passion for the business, but also spoke to his inability to effectively manage a company. It was around this same time that Cooper took a major hit from a joint venture arrangement to make “bomber jackets” for a major retailer. Their partner in the joint venture filed for bankruptcy after using up the working capital and before delivering any product, leaving Cooper holding the bag. Enter David Hack and US Wings. The net assets, including the rights to the Indiana Jones jacket, were purchased by US Wings. Product quality improved over the last few orders under the original marketing contract to where returns and defects fell to under 2%. This turnaround secured US Wings the subcontract to make jackets for Disney during the first three years of its license agreement with Lucasfilm.
It should be noted that the arrangement with Stetson was more favorable. Later this evolved into a co-license and eventually a full licensing agreement with Dorfman Pacific that is still in place today.
Returning to the jacket, the Cooper license would not run out until 1988. Under the existing agreement, LFL/Paramount could contract for their own jacket so long as it was labeled as LFL and/or Paramount. Cooper would receive a portion of net sales.
Two offerings made their way to the market around and just prior to the release of Last Crusade. Paramount offered a jacket at the time the movie was released, and the Star Wars Insider offered one beginning in May of 1988. The Star Wars Insider jacket was based on the Cooper design. The Paramount jacket was based upon a design that was obtained by LFL in 1987 from Adventure Outfitters.
In 1988, the license for the jacket was picked-up by Disney. This was part of the ramp-up of Disney/LFL partnering related to the Indiana Jones and Star Wars attractions at the Disney theme parks. The license contained 5-year optional renewals, which Disney exercised until January 1, 2008. At that time the license was picked-up by Belstaff, which seems to go against the pricing and well-developed distribution channels rhetoric.
Back to 1987, Lee Keppler had been working with Flight Suits in El Cajon California on developing a fan-based Indiana Jones jacket through his company “Adventure Outfitters.” Lee was offering these jackets for sale in ads placed in Soldier of Fortune. Development of the pattern was from the ground up, relying on repeated viewings of Raiders as well as a wide variety of still shots.
A note on Lee and his “mark” on the jacket. Military jackets are highly functional and utilitarian. They are flight gear not uniforms. Designers added storm flaps to keep the elements from beating on the zipper and slipping through. Designers who understand functionality also know a storm flap needs to stay in place. An outer storm flap, that, well, “flaps” is a little out of place. As such, Lee added the snap’s to his design with Flight Suits. Lee is the father of the press studs on the storm flap for LC and CS. They were on his jackets in the archives, copied to the final Crusade pattern, and that’s how they made it to the screen.
Having done an array of work with LFL over the years, Lee was familiar with how things were done, and noticed when two jacket orders for the same individual went to a familiar address. The jackets ended up in the LFL archives and will be referenced numerous times through this section as well as for the Crystal Skull jacket. It was not long after these were purchased that Lee was contacted by LFL on behalf of Anthony Powell. Lee was asked if he could provide jackets for the production of the third installment, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Neither Anthony Powell nor Harrison Ford were happy with the Cooper jackets. During a meeting at Skywalker Ranch, Powell and Ford went through the inventory in the archives and selected some wardrobe to be used as the basis for prototypes. The jacket they both selected was one of the Adventure Outfitters jackets. It was based on this selection that Lee was contacted about supplying the jackets for the production.
At this time, Lee had reservations about making such a commitment due to some uncertainties with Flight Suits. Namely, there seemed a strong possibility that the company might be changing ownership and with that it was not a sure thing that new ownership would want to continue doing smaller custom orders—such as the arrangement Lee had informally made with the current owners.
|A xerox copy of an advertisement showing the infamous "Bellhop"jacket. Note the texture to the leather, something that some have come back to on Raiders jacket replicas. Supplied by Lee Keppler.|
In fact, back in 1986, Lee had been looking for other potential sources for jackets. It was during these searches that he came across Peter Botwright and Leather Concessionaires. Learning that Peter was the man that made "THE" original jackets used in Raiders was quite a find. Numerous correspondences passed between the two. Peter sent Lee a jacket, represented as being made from the original patterns. This example however had numerous “authenticity issues.” In order to fix these inaccuracies, Lee sent Peter one of the Flight Suits manufactured Adventure Outfitters jackets to examine and Peter made some jackets based on it for Lee to consider for sale through his company. As no working relationship could be finely tuned to meet the needs of both Lee and Peter, no further partnership ensued. After Last Crusade, Lee would however became a 'broker' through his ads for fans wanting Indy jackets made by Peter.
In light of Lee’s reservations to commit to supplying jackets for Last Crusade, he referred them to Peter Botwright. While Anthony Powell did not know him, Peter and Noel Howard were personal friends. As noted earlier in the Temple of Doom section, Anthony Powell made a personal gift of one of the Temple of Doom jackets to Noel. Powell contacted Noel, and Noel explained to Powell a potential problem. This problem related to an incident that had occurred just prior to Temple of Doom beginning production. It involved some issue of “protocol” surrounding work Leather Concessionaires did on a James Bond film. Berman’s company did not win the contract for that film, and as has been related by several of those involved, Berman and Peter had a falling out at an industry function for that film.
As related by Noel Howard, “Monty would have sacked me if he had known Leather Concessionaires had been working on Last Crusade.” in fact, Berman has said that he was unaware that Peter worked on Last Crusade. It was around this time that Leather Concessionaires changed its name to Wested Leather. We can only suppose that the name change was to help fly under the radar.
Following Lee's reference, Noel assured Powell that he would secure Peter to make the jackets based on the prototype and Powell’s specific design changes. Noel delivered the prototype jacket from Anthony Powell to Peter, which should have looked very familiar to Peter, as it would have been identical to the Adventure Outfitter jacket Lee had sent to him a year before. Noel acted as the interface between Powell’s modification requests—larger collar, etc.—and Peters work product.
From all reports, it only took two attempts to get Anthony Powell what he wanted. The changes from the prototype were as follows (taken from Anthony Powell’s notes verbatim, brackets indicate IndyGear editorial):
- Wider zipper flap
- Proper larger collar
- Lighter “chocolate” palate [color]
- Substantial [leather/material]
- Comfort cut and lining
- Larger pockets
The first prototype did not have large enough “zipper flap” or collar, and had a cotton collar stand. Also, additional changes were made to the pockets. Notes were made and it was decided to just order the production jackets from there trusting the modifications would be sufficient. A dozen jackets were ordered, but only nine were ever shown delivered. No explanation on the variance has been found.
Referencing back to the uses of the Adventure Outfitters prototypes would be as follows: first time was when Powell and Ford selected it from the LFL archives. The second time was as the basis for the Paramount jacket available through mail order in 1989. If you bought one of these jackets, you have an early version of what became Tony Nowak’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls jacket. More on that later.
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