Oh God, they’re back, Vollebak that is.
They’ve made a jacket out of the most revolutionary material in years – Graphene.
Invisible to the human eye, it’s the strongest material ever tested, conducts heat and electricity and is almost transparent. Judging by the red lines it’s throwing up as I type, it’s also so new it’s unrecognisable to spellcheck!
When Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov at the University of Manchester isolated the material it won them both a Nobel Prize. And that’s pretty much where the physics lesson ends. We’re not scientists, we just like great jackets that make us feel better than the other jacket lads.
Vollebak aren’t really about that, which is another thing which makes their brand appeal. They’re about making good product and telling the story of that product well. The parallels with the work of people like Massimo Osti are there, but when we spoke to Steve Tidball from the brand, his interest in that world was limited. Combining his professional history in advertising and creative industries with his personal experience as an adventure athlete, Steve and his brother Nick founded Vollebak just three years ago. Everything they’ve done since has broken new ground, with a focus on creating perfection as opposed to the fashion model which is increasingly about creating something based purely on price.
Working with Graphene was never going to be easy, despite its obvious potential. Hugely expensive to produce, most conventional designers would have written it off before starting, but Vollebak aren’t about that. Through this Graphene jacket, their hope is to continue pushing boundaries and conduct a real life test case. The material is so new that nobody can know exactly how it will behave with any degree of certainty. The fact Graphene will absorb an unlimited amount of heat means theoretically you can warm your jacket up on a radiator before you go out into the cold temperatures. Careful though, the nylon which the Graphene has been bonded to will only withstand 200 degrees. Unless you’re getting in the oven to cook yourself, you should be fine. We could go on about the various properties of the jacket but you’re already convinced aren’t you? They’ve even made it reversible to give you two looks in one and allow you to test the graphene extensively in two different ways.
Again, the parallel with Osti is present here.
On visiting the Osti archive in Bologna a couple of years back, we were surprised to find the vast majority of material samples never made it into production. Despite a graphic design background rather than anything science-based, Osti wanted to invent and innovate. He dyed, washed, boiled and combined fabrics which had no business being together and largely the results were as predicted. But the few that worked were what C.P. Company and Stone Island built a reputation on. Reflective jackets, colour-change fabrics, jackets that turned into skateboards, jackets which integrated mobile phone technology when phones were heavier than a WWE wrestler. The early-adopters were on it. And with this new development from Vollebak, they’ll be on it again.
The fact it looks great is just a bonus.
It’s available now but not loads are left.