There are two key elements to sailing clothing, the garment design and the fabric itself. The fabric represents over fifty percent of the cost of the garment, and if that fails then so does the garment. The best looking garment in the world is not much help when you are battling into a westerly gale and soaking wet. That’s why at Gill we take fabric so seriously.
In 2002 we took the decision to move away from high profile branded fabrics. Not only were they adding significantly to the cost, but they also limited the choice of materials we could use. Most branded waterproof fabrics were originally developed for the larger outdoor clothing industry, so when it came to introducing sailing wear fabrics the choice was limited. We wanted the ability to adapt fabrics specifically for the marine environment. If you are out walking and it rains you can only get wet from above. When you are sailing, water is coming at you from all angles. Spray or solid waves are coming over the bow, you are sitting in water and it could be raining as well. Then there is the water itself, in most cases it is salt water. Salt water molecules have a much larger surface area than fresh water and have an abrasive property with it. Off the shelf fabrics are not going to do the job as well as specifically adapted materials.
Working directly with different fabric suppliers and coaters we can keep adapting the fabric until it passes all our stringent tests. If the water resistance is not high enough after artificial aging we can add another layer. If the abrasion resistance on the outside is not good enough we can change that too.