- Lets get to the bad news first. The Supermarine Shell is not a waterproof jacket. It's not the jacket you want for a hiking days in torrential rains, or aboard a fishing trawler in a storm. You'll want some sort of standard "waterproof-breathable" jacket for that.
But the Supermarine Shell is also not a plastic bag, it's made of 100% cotton. Traditional "waterproof-breathable" jackets all use some variation of a plastic membrane to become waterproof and it shows; they are loud, sweaty and uncomfortable. Supermarine Cotton is actually a joy to wear, no matter the weather. Quiet, breathable, nearly windproof and won't clam you up like synthetic laminates do. Taped seams, a fully adjustable hood, zip ventilated sleeves and a drawcord waist complete the picture.
Supermarine Cotton is a 21st century twist on a fabric the British developed in World War II, you can think of it as the pinnacle of cotton technology. An engineered combination of high and low twist long staple yarns are woven together into a high density fabric. Because cotton swells slightly when wet the fabric actually seals itself off when it saturates creating a cloth that was once used for firehouses and immersion suits for fighter pilots. The 21st century twist is a C6 durable water repellant treatment that adds a first line of defense, delaying the saturation effect to create an even drier, cleaner and more comfortable garment.
The seams of most garments are where leaks begin, so to avoid them we fully tape them up in a Vancouver Canada factory.
- The secret to the future, they say, is hidden in the past. Supermarine® Cotton is a 21st century edit to a nearly forgotten World War II fabric. You can think of it as the pinnacle of cotton technology, extremely breathable, highly water resistant and completely windproof. It can only be made using the longest staple Egyptian cotton fibers. They are woven together in a complex weave that swells up and seals when exposed to water. The result is a beautiful cloth that we think is the best rainy day fabric around.
For decades it's been obscured from the public, kept alive mainly by demand from a few Air Force units, Antarctic explorers and funnily enough, bird watchers; all who have different understandings of its unique properties. Supermarine® Cotton stays comfortable under pressure and there is none of that sweaty/clammy feeling you get with GoreTex and other synthetic "waterproof-breathable" fabrics. It isn't technically "waterproof" by government standards but you can stay dry for hours in the rain wearing it. It's woven from the longest staple Egyptian cotton so it breaks in beautifully. The dense weave combined with the premium fiber results in a fabric that is simultaneously tough and supple.
Historically this fabric is an updated version of a fabric the British invented in World War II to keep their pilots alive in the North Sea if they happened to get shot down. It was later used by the British Navy, in Antarctic exploration and by Edmond Hillary during the first ascent of Mount Everest. It was even used to make fire hoses and eventually found its way into high-end hiking gear. Since it requires a very dense weave of the most expensive cotton fibers on the market, it never quite broke through into the mainstream and with the advent of GoreTex it faded from the general marketplace. Bird watchers still sought it out since it's significantly quieter than the loud synthetic fabrics that took over, while Antarctic teams prized it for its amazing windproof quality. The main customer of the past few decades however has been various Air Forces who understood just how superior a fabric it is, and are willing to pay for it.
We source our Supermarine® Cotton from Switzerland (where it goes by the tradename ETAProof®) and it differs from the historical British version in one important respect, it is treated with a premium durable water resistance (DWR) that is not wax-based. The water resistance in the historical formulation comes from two factors, the denseness of the weave and the fact that cotton fibers swell up when exposed to moisture. Adding the DWR treatment into the mix results in a significantly superior rain repellant and breathable fabric that far outclasses both the synthetic "waterproof-breathable" fabrics of the world and the heavy, clammy Barbour-style waxed cotton. It looks better, wears better and is dramatically more comfortable.
We've been testing this stuff extensively over the past year and we keep on thinking we've stumbled upon a little bit of magic. We made button down shirts and walked out into torrential downpours without a jacket or umbrella. We've done hours of laps in Prospect Park during thundershowers wearing the same shirt and stayed dry. We've taken it out into 100% desert heat to see how well it breathes. We challenged our bike messenger friends to beat it up on the road. More important than all that though was the fact when we headed out of the house, we almost always reach for a Supermarine® Cotton shirt or parka, not because we wanted to test it, but because we wanted to wear it.
- Supermarine Shell
- Made with 100% Supermarine® Cotton woven in Switzerland (ETA Proof®)
- 100% Cotton
- Two-way Riri aqua zips
- Megastash pocket
- Outside and inside chest pocket
- Fully taped seams
- Super breathable
- Highly water and wind resistant
- Adjustable sleeve cuffs
- Adjustable hood
- Sleeve zips for ventilation
- Drawcord waist
- Fits true to size, buy the size you normally wear
- Spot clean or dry clean
- Made in Vancouver, Canada with Swiss fabric
- Supermarine Shell
- Fits true to size, buy the size you normally wear.
Size Chart (in inches)
X-Small Small Medium Large X-Large Chest Size 36 38 40 42 44 Body Length (front from shoulder) 26 26.75 27.25 27.75 28.5 Sleeve (from center back) 35 35.5 36 36.5 37