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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Legendary East West Musical Instruments Company

Apparently, I've been holding on to a rather exquisite piece of leather goods for many years now. During my college days I acquired a particularly badass looking leather vest that I lovingly referred to as 'Chachi' (after Scott Baio's usually sleeveless character on Happy Days). I was a good bit thinner in those days, so Chachi and I were able to spend lots of quality time together barhopping, bowling, and generally getting up to no good.

But as the years have passed, my waistline has gradually expanded, and Chachi has been relegated to the lonely purgatory of the Closet In The Spare Room. Even though I knew it was doubtful I would ever be able to zip it up again, I had a hard time thinking about parting with it. Then earlier this year I started my own vintage shop, SadieBess, and I thought Chachi might make a nice addition to my inventory, and probably bring in lots of views, especially if I labelled it 'Steampunk' ;) So I began researching the name on the label to try to place a value on it. It was only then that I realized I had been sitting on a veritable vintage holy grail.

The East West Musical Instruments Company originally opened as a music shop in the Castro district of San Francisco in 1967. Legend has it that the owner decided to make a leather jacket with an old sewing machine they had on the premises, which wound up being purchased by none other than Janis Joplin. After that, the shop made leather jackets it's main focus, and went on to create amazing designs until it's closure in the early 80s.

I was fortunate enough to speak with East West fanatic Romulus von Stezelberger, owner of South Paradiso Leather, who was kind enough to tell me that the name of this design is Eucalyptus, and that East West never made vests, that this was, in fact, a jacket that someone had removed the sleeves from at one point. Sad face!

Even without sleeves, I still think this is an incredibly wearable piece of leather. It's fitted silhouette  is extremely flattering, and the organically shaped appliques are truly beautiful. I did not feel comfortable placing a fixed value on it due to the sleeve issue, so I've decided to place it up for bid on Ebay.  Check out the auction here.


  1. Hi!
    I'm your new follower from Etsy team "Bloggers and Readers"

    I like your product pictures, so clear!!

  2. Hi there! Thanks for stopping by, and for your kind words. My photos have certainly come a long way since I started selling in earnest almost a year ago.