Jeff Cafone is always searching for a new, hands-on task. Growing up in Lavallette, Cafone taught himself to build everything from guitars to motorcycles. Years later, when searching for a new creative outlet, he remembered his grandmother’s 1950s sewing machine that was collecting dust in his parents’ garage. Cafone began sewing just for fun, until a piece of leather he found in a fabric store inspired him. He visited high-end boutiques to study the construction of their leather jackets and, through trial and error, he replicated the designs.
His Manhattan apartment became a one-man workshop for his custom leather- jacket business. “I saw there was a need among my clients who wore larger sizes,” says Cafone, who graduated from New York University with degrees in journalism and history. “I took a hard look at plus-size fashion and realized there’s this complete lack of inclusivity.”
In September 2017, Cafone, 28, launched All 67, a luxury leather-jacket brand for women sizes 12-30. The company’s name refers to the widely circulated statistic that 67 percent of American women are plus-size.
Operating as a solo creator eventually became unsustainable. Consider that it takes seven to eight hours to make a single jacket. Cafone now has sewing contractors who create the tan-suede, black-leather and vegan black-leather motos in his All 67 collection, available at all67.com for $399-$549. This spring, he’ll release leather vests and a longer jacket option. Cafone plans to expand beyond leather with a complete plus-size collection later this year.
There are outdated stereotypes about plus-size fashion, such as, “Larger women aren’t comfortable with their bodies, so they won’t spend more on investment pieces,” explains Cafone. “But in 2018, there’s a big movement in body positivity. People just deserve nice things, regardless of what size they happen to wear.”
You used to be in a band. You eventually stopped songwriting and wanted to transition to something else. Did you go right into fashion?
I graduated from Point Pleasant Beach High School in 2007 and then I went to NYU. I was doing music a lot so I was always coming back, taking a lot of trips to Asbury Park and other places to play music with my band. When I was younger, I kind of took over my parents garage and I did some woodworking and made some guitars and did some metalworking and made some bikes. I always missed that hands on work. In New York, there’s not much space or room to have a workshop or anything like that. So once music was winding down, I was like ‘alright, I want to get back into making stuff, making something,’ and sewing just seemed like something I could do in a Manhattan apartment without making noise and a mess. No saw dust, no welding sparks.
You originally made custom leather jackets for people of all sizes. How did that lead to All 67?
For about a year I did custom work. That was for men, women, young people, old people, big people, small people. I saw that my clients who wore larger sizes really just didn’t have access to a leather jacket, which is a classic timeless thing that really almost every single major brand creates. But they don’t do it for sizes above like a 10 or a 12. So I felt like I was needed there and that I could really contribute to the plus market. I think someone that wears a size two or four, you’re fine. You don’t really need me. I feel like I’m actually contributing something to a greater good. It makes people happy and it makes me happy.
How would you describe the message behind your brand?
There’s still a lot of hurdles to overcome because from the moment we’re born, through media and advertising and movies and music, you’re kind of indoctrinated to think this is what the ideal body is, this is skinny women, this is beauty. That just kind of gets ingrained in you and hammered in to the psyche of really every single person. There’s a big movement now and a big push in body positivity and we’re at the forefront of that.