I have been mightily impressed with some new rain wear that came my way recently. The nice people at Protected Species (Iove the name) sent me one of their parka rain coats to try, to demonstrate the London based design collective’s high-tech but distinctly feminine performance coats.
The brand, which was founded by three grown up women who clearly understand design, has just two styles, a parka and a trench and I am now a firm fan. My parka is lightweight but still substantial, with really thoughtful details such as good buttons, a feminine fit and sleekly finished pockets. It’s lovely to wear. We had never heard of Protected Species, so suspect you might not have either. We caught up with one of the founders, Anne Muir, and asked a few questions.
What’s the idea behind these two designs then, Anne, doesn’t the world have enough parkas and trenches?
“There’s a female trio involved in Protected Species and the designs came about because we had always lived in rainy cities around the UK and we noticed something missing. What we wanted, and what we couldn’t find, was something that combined all the high tech features you get on sportswear/outdoor gear, but in a shape and style that we wanted to wear everyday, and fitted in with our lives.
Although all the balancing we all do of working life with family, travel and socialising often feels like climbing a mountain, we didnt want to look like we were actually about to. What we wanted was stylish and sophisticated outerwear for busy urban lifestyles, that offered all year weather protection without compromising on the look. None of us revelled in printed ducks and crayon hued umbrellas either…so really, what we wanted was those classic shapes of a trench and parka – but ones that worked really hard for us!
Who’s behind the design team and where the devil did you come from?
Our 2 designers are very experienced and have worked in the technical performance-wear industry for a long time designing, sourcing and developing clothing for international brands…but…*whispers* they didn’t really want to wear any of it when not doing the sports!! I’ve run my own business for a while, doing consultancy and I was a frustrated consumer…I knew about performance fabric from sports but again I didn’t want to wear them to the office or on a night out.
I wanted something smart enough to wear to work that I could also wear and look good in whilst going out, school run, travelling etc etc. Really we’re 3 modern women – juggling a lot of things and we wanted our clothes to do the same and perform, Three TWR women, in fact! ( Ed, proof our readers are a are a stylish bunch..which we always knew of course….). I’m really loving all the techie details on my parka, the sealed seams, the covered zips, the lovely way the cuff is shaped to gently cover your hand, and the fabric is so light and comfy to wear, I’m guessing you are nit-picky designers (in a very good way) How long did it take you to get it all right?
It took us almost 2 years….we had to find the right fabric and then try to combine all the techie bits with a very clean modern design. Our fabric is amazing – we were really clear from the start that what we didn’t like about a lot of waterproofs was that they aren’t very wearable or feminine – they’re not comfy, they squeak and they’re often bulky.
What we have is a really soft, noiseless, stretchy, tactile fabric that also performs. But its not easy to work with so it took a lot of prototyping to get it right. Also what works aesthetically might not work for performance and vice-versa. We’ve had to balance things out so that you can get good waterproofness with breathability, comfort and a feminine fit.
Ithink TWR readers will love both the designs, but they might already have rain macs, can you tell them why they should buy one of yours?
They don’t sound like a crisp packet! They are super soft and stretchy – wearing them feels incredible. And I don’t think you can say that about any other rain coat!
It’s also nice to have outerwear that’s designed for a city rather than the country (not that you couldn’t wear this in the country, but you get my drift), my parka looks more Issey Miyake than Timberland, was it deliberate to be urban? If so why?
Absolutely – they are very much designed for the urban wearer so that they work for commuting, work, going out etc. That’s basically what we thought was missing from the high street – performance and style, something protective along with something you would be totally happy to be seen in in the city, you might still shove it in your bag (as they can scrunch up small and remain crease free)..but not because you’re ashamed of your rain gear!”
Both styles are £179 and having worn mine for a while now, I reckon it’s a quality product. More on the two styles on the Protected Species website, and because we are well connected, Protected Species have very kindly offered us a 10% discount on any purchase made, just pop in TWR10 to the discount code box. You’re welcome.