UPDATE 19th April 2017
We've got a new photographer / IT operative, one of his first jobs will be to list some trainee jackets.
We have a few jackets from one of last year's trainees, a few refresher jackets from one of our qualified machinists who came back to Aero earlier this year and we've got a new trainee starting this week so look out for more trainee jackets coming online later this month
One of the most rewarding aspects of Aero has been the successful training of new machinists, something we've been doing since 1984.
Making a leather jacket from start to finish takes a lot of patience and a high degree of skill, yet very few of our current machinists had ever sewn before they came here, and only one or two of those that could sew had ever done so professionally.
Several of our current machinists who came through their training in the 1980s are still with us and have fine-tuned their craft to Savile Row level while most of the others have been with Aero for between 10 and 20 years.
In the last few years we've trained several new machinists in the art of making a leather jacket from start to finish. All have now fully qualified and are matching the high standard necessary for any Aero jackets. These new machinists were all graduates from Heriot Watt , the UK's top Textile University, and our long term objective to reduce the waiting time for Aero special orders can now be seen in our reduced waiting times.
Most early jackets will be Steerhide Highwayman but as the machinists progress they learn more intricate styles and use higher grade hides, eventually making their first few Horsehide jackets.
While new apprentice machinists work their way towards our top of the range Aero jackets, the jackets they make as they progress represent real bargains for the new owner.
Consider the cost involved in making a "Trainee" jacket.
One of our best machinists has to come off production work to do the training.
The leather used is of regular Aero grade, there's no point on training someone on paper thin hides, yet there is a lot of wastage, for instance where new panels need to be cut if a mistake is made, and when mistakes happen, as they do, there's no place to hide stray stitches on a piece of leather, it just has to be replaced. The linings are also of a high grade, usually end of line checked cotton or wool oddments and the hardware is the same as we use on our highest grade jackets.
A trainee will take between 6 and 10 times as long to make a jacket compared to our most experienced machinists but they are still on a decent wage regardless of how much they produce in a week.
Now check the prices, most if not all, of these jackets are being sold for less than they cost us to make. This is the faith we have in these trainees; they are under no pressure to up their output, only to improve their quality.
As afterall, quality and skill is what Aero is about.