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Interview: Bert Pulizer's on the Survivalon Jacket

Posted by manofthehour on January 30, 2013 at 1:30 PM

A maverick, Bert Pulitzer’s vision and attention to details consistently inspires not only stylish men’s wear, but functionality for the changing times men live within. Pulitzer and the designers behind Survivalon have reintroduced Pulitzer’s classic sailing-travel jacket. Pulitzer has maintained loyalty, almost to a fault,to his original 1975 design. He’s optimistic about the modern components of the ipad, Iphone and sunglass pockets he and his team have added. Knowing Pulitzer’s reputation for staying honest to the integrity of his designs – this rejuvenated the Survivalon Jacket is sure to become a classic piece of menswear.

Joe Lee: You are from Long Beach, New York.  How did that upbringing mold you as a designer?

Bert Pulitzer: Growingup in Long Beach – or the town I like to refer to as a "resort built on a sandbar" – we had a winter population of 4000 and in summer 25,000. Growing up on boats and beach, I wanted to become a professional lifeguard, but my father didn’t think that was a good idea! After spending nearly five months a year on boats and beach and not finding a quality, non-rusting and comfortable sailing jacket, – iit was natural for me to invent one when I grew up.


JL: What was so different about the jacket you invented?

BP: Survivalon was the first piece of clothing to have Velcro, which, until then, was only used in hospitals.  Zippers on sailing jackets for the time were steel or brass. Steel rusted and brass corroded – so I sourced a zipper that was made for tents (the YKK #10) and made it into a two way version for comfort when driving or at the tiller. It took 18 months find the shell and luckily I met someone who understood how to make the jacket. We made a home run on the first prototype! Doris Tom was the pattern maker, and the synergy worked perfectly.


JL: How do the members of Survivalon help refresh yourbrand?

BP: One of the best ways is by listening to ideas for product upgrades and selling ideas from a number of affiliates in menswear. A friend at Orvis kept after us to change the settings of the bottom drawstring. We did – and the adjustment lowered the cord below the front pockets; keeping it from snagging. As for style, Mark – of Family Britches New Canaan, CT – is the first to show an orange jacket over a tuxedo outfit opening up multiple uses for sport and dress up use.

JL: What is Survivalon purchase appeal? What aspects set it apart? 

BP: All SurvivalonJackets are made by hand in the USA, and every detail of the jackets is totally functional. Many outerwear manufacturers – when designing –take a men’s market approach. They ponder over meetings, – “OK how about two pocketson the chest and two lower body? Are flaps in now? Maybe buttons or snaps possibly zippers?” – you get the gist. Whatever is in vogue at the time becomes part of the design and merchandising. With Survivalon, our goal is to make the most functional, durable jacket's for men to wear.

JL: How has your brand changed over the last year, and how will it continue to evolve?

BP: Our first shipment of the original, classic jacket model was last October. Our collection will grow to include a shorter version, quilted version, plus a vest. By February, our collection will grow to include a shorter, quilted version and vest to complete our fall 2013 collection.


JL: How do some of the vest designs look?

BP: Our new “Protec” layering/all around vest model works as a layer under either the classic jacket model or its new counterpart, the quilted version.


JL: I know that John Wayne used to wear and endorse the Survivalon jacket? If you could pick a new spokesperson, whom would you pick?

Jon Bon Jovi. He is a close friend of Michael Keenan, – a member of the Survivalon team. At the Jersey Shore, Michael opened his trunk while helping out with Hurricane Sandy victims, and Jon saw an orange jacket. He grabbed it, declaring it as his! Jon is a perfect image for Survivalon –he is not only a great and talented musician but a fine person who cares for others.


JL: How has the Survivalon jacket stood the test of time?

BP: The Survivalon jacket was originally designed in 1975 and has continued with the same model, same snaps, same Velcro. But we’ve modernized it as well. It is still loved instantaneously when 25 to 30-year-old men see it for the first time. I always find it amazing how classic menswear continues as it does in every thought out product such as LL Bean shoes and boots, Sperry Topsider, and many more.


Interview by guest writer: Joe Lee, founder of the fashion blog Preplee.

Categories: Style: Dialogue

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1 Comment

Reply Chuck McConnell
2:36 PM on January 31, 2013 
Bert has introduced a true winner that is the perfect jacket for our times. tt is destined to become the outerwear "gold standard" for today's lifestyles.
Chuck McConnell , Past President, The Original B.D. Baggies, Comfortwear for Men