I asked my friend Paul from SEH Kelly, to share a little about their newest release. The Ventile Mac marks a first for the brand, both with the jacket itself and using the seemingly high tech fabric. I love being able to connect with creators like Paul, as I learn so much in every conversation while also experiencing some of the passion for what he does everyday first hand. In this article he talks about their process at SEH Kelly as well as why they chose to work with Ventile and a little bit of the fabrics history.
The mac is the first time we've used Ventile. We've worked with similar cloths, so-called "performance fabrics," before but Ventile really is a cut above. Typically a high performance fabric is coated with another substance, or treated, or composed of synthetic materials. Ventile is 100% cotton. Just a cleverly and densely woven cotton, using very high quality cotton yarn. The way water just beads up and runs off it is remarkable but to the touch, it's just a really crisp, fine, dry cotton.
What we try to do with each garment is to respect the cloth and use it in a way sympathetic to its characteristics. Mostly the motto is let the cloth speak for itself. We work only with British-made cloths, the best of which while expensive, are quite idiosyncratic in lots of ways and often also with fantastic stories attached to them. It might be the history of the mill it comes from, a particular technique, or something else. With Ventile, it's the story of the cloth– it was an invention, a cutting-edge creation of the 1930s. Scientists in Manchester devising new fabrics for pilots. And it's still used for high-performance purposes to this day. With a cloth that works so hard, the garment itself can sit back and relax a little; the mac is, at face value, a simple design. There are pockets and functional details, but they're hidden away and kept to the wearer's knowledge and whomever he decides to tell.
There's a second cloth on the mac that, while Ventile grabs the limelight, is also worth a note. It's a wool-melton. The best melton is for me an unsung champion of a cloth, and here we use it to line the mac. We sourced this particular melton from a mill in the north of England not far from where Ventile is made, in fact, that specialises in it and has its own "melton laboratory." If that isn't an indication of a place taking its work seriously, I don't know what is. It'd be a fantastic external cloth in its own right, but as an internal lining it creates all the warmth and cosiness that the Ventile isn't so good at.
It's a real pleasure, bringing different cloths with equally interesting provenances together. That's a side of domestic making that we enjoy. To be able to hold a garment up and point where the different components have come from and why, right down to the buttons or the sleeve lining, is satisfying. And we're finding that increasingly the chaps that visit the workshop or who send us emails via the website, there's a thirst for this knowledge. These garment aren't cheap, after all, and so being able to fill someone in on the what, where, why, and how of any given item is, for us, imperative– the least we can do.
• Article by Darian Hocking & Paul Vincent
• Photography by Paul Vincent
• Special Thanks to Paul Vincent, Sara Kelly and SEH Kelly
Dark Green Ventile Mac