Each and every Gill product is rigorously tested. In our lab. On the water. To the extremes. For us, every component has to be up to scratch. Right down to the last stitch. Which is why we scour the globe for the finest materials. Then, test their integrity to the absolute limit. We age them. Rip them. Tear, pull and sand them.
We even wash test the wash labels. Just to be sure.
There are two key elements to sailing clothing. The garment design and the fabric itself. The fabric represents over 50% of the cost of the garment. If that fails, so does the garment. The best-looking gear in the world's not much help when you're battling into a westerly gale and soaking wet.
That's why 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 ageing we can add another layer. If the abrasion resistance on the outside is not good enough we can change that too.
The fabric represents over 50% of the cost of the garment. If that fails, so does the garment. Our gear might not be the most stylish, but the best-looking gear in the world won’t be much help when you’re battling into a westerly gale and soaking wet.
Our clothing is designed for the ocean. Most branded waterproof fabrics were originally developed for the larger outdoor clothing industry. Consequently, you can guarantee that no matter the conditions, our garments will perform.
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 which is highly abrasive.
Today all fabrics are breathable so the choice comes down to the handle and feel, which is affected by the weight, density of the weave, and whether the proofing is a coating or laminate.
Coatings are a more traditional approach to proofing a garment. A Polyurethane based resin is spread onto a woven fabric. It first has to fill in the weave undulations to seal it and then build up a layer that covers it all evenly. Finally, the fabric is dipped into a DWR solution for water repellence on the exterior.
Laminates are a more recent development. A laminated waterproof fabric is made by spreading the coating resin onto a long roll of non-absorbent paper. This means the coating thickness can be finely controlled. The end result is a fabric that is lighter and waterproof. It is more flexible, softer and much more comfortable to wear.
Conventional waterproof fabrics fall into three main categories:
Examples: Inshore/Coastal Sailing, Waterproof Clothing and Dinghy Wear.
Advantage: Generally lighter
Examples: KB1 Racer Range, RS01_Race Jacket, RS02_Race Smock
Advantage: Although heavier fabric, it can be offset because the garment does not need a lining.
Example: OC1 Range, OS1 Ocean, 4802_Pro Drysuit
Advantage: A no compromise protection for those facing the toughest ocean conditions. These 4-layer shell fabrics are specifically engineered by our technicians to survive the rigours of the marine environment.
Gill's FireCell air technology is designed to provide high-impact, zoned warmth and comfort for extreme conditions on the water.
Advantage: Keeps you warm, dry and comfortable in extreme weather conditions.
When it comes to waterproof and breathable fabrics you may well be confused by numerous technical sounding names, not to mention being confronted with a host of fancy swing tickets all claiming to be the best. At Gill we choose not to use high profile branded fabrics as they not only add to the cost of the garment but limit the choice of both quality and suitability of materials available to us.
We search the world for the best fabrics to suit the end use and then test them to destruction. If a fabric needs an additional coating to withstand the rigours of the southern Ocean then we give it one. Our tests are carried out in our laboratory. They are then corroborated independently. We test our fabrics not just as new but after artificial aging to simulate years of use. Finally they are put out into the field for further testing. There is always a product some where in the Southern Ocean under test.
When the testing is complete we rank the fabric according to end usage and classify it according to our renowned Fabric System™. These tests are not one off tests but are repeated before each production batch. This attention to detail ensures that the Gill fabrics perform as well if not better than anything in the market today and ensures the quality of our products remain at the highest level.