Ebbets Field Flannels (ebbets.com; 119 S Jackson St.) has always seemed misnamed for a Seattle-based company. But the 26-year-old retailer honoring the ballpark where the old Brooklyn Dodgers used to play makes up for it with plenty of Seattle-centric options. Consider the faithful replica jacket of the 1941 Seattle Rainiers, who won the Pacific Coast League baseball championship that season for the third year in a row. Its heavy wool body is a match, natch, for raw Seattle winters. Its leather sleeves of burnt orange suggest a Puget Sound sunset.
The letterman-style jacket harks back to sock hops and poodle skirts while venerating a retro vibe as timely as thrift-shop browsing. (Appropriately, Ebbets Field Flannels introduced a Macklemore/Ryan Lewis collection on June 12, coinciding with the Seattle Mariners’ Macklemore Bobblehead Night at Safeco Field.) But vintage sporting apparel from obscure minor league and Negro league baseball teams of yore remains the entree on EFF’s home plate.
It’s apparel you can’t get in a sporting-goods store. Virtually everything EFF sells is made in the United States or Canada, says Jerry Cohen, who owns the company with Lisa Cooper. The workmanship is as impressive as the research conducted on every item — right down to fabric authentic to the period. Prices reflect this obsession with detail: Jackets like the Rainiers version sell for $395; team shirts retail for $195. Caps ($40-$48) and T-shirts ($29) are a bit friendlier to the bankroll.
The designs appeal to sports memorabilia enthusiasts, typography/graphic design geeks, advertising/branding aficionados and, of course, the retro/vintage crowd. The simple block lettering on a 1910 Seattle Giants shirt of gray flannel with green pinstripes and bright green collar has an unsophisticated charm that Nike could never hope to replicate. Same goes for the matching Seattle Giants eight-panel ballcap, which evokes a time of childlike insouciance.
A partnership with PF Flyers has produced a line of high-top sneakers with touches both vintage (pinstripe fabric) and modern (leather trim). A collection of vintage hockey sweaters in the new Pioneer Square store includes a replica of the 1917 Seattle Metropolitans uniform when they became the first American team to win the Stanley Cup. Fans of typography and design love its alternating stripes of red, white and green and the big red “S” with the word “Seattle” snaking along its length.
And therein may lie the secret to EFF’s quarter-century of success: Whether it’s a shirt of the 1915 Chicago Whales, the 1938 Goldsboro Goldbugs or the 1957 Portland Beavers, Ebbets Field Flannels doesn’t follow trends. It follows history.