Nigel Cabourn Lybro AW20 - Arctic Convoys
For the AW20 Lybro range, Nigel Cabourn and his design team have turned their gaze to the harsh waters of the Arctic Sea, creating a range of hard-wearing, functional clothing inspired by the Arctic Convoys of WW2.
The Arctic Convoys were a series of ocean-going convoys which took place during WW2, carrying valuable supplies to ports in the Soviet Union from the United Kingdom, North America and Iceland. Although this was most definitely a military operation, it relied on the help of over 1400 merchant ships, calling on the help of countless sailors to deliver military equipment like tanks and ammunition, as well as essentials like food, fuel and medicine. In total, 78 convoys delivered four million tons of cargo.
With Norway and the Baltic states captured by Nazi Germany, the convoys were forced north, sailing through the Arctic Sea to the ports of Murmansk and Archangelesk. Described by Winston Churchill as ‘the worst journey in the world’, the brave crews had to make the arduous trek whilst under attack from German submarines and battleships. To make matters worse, they also had to face the extreme conditions of the Arctic Sea, with gales, sub-zero temperatures and pack-ice making it by far the most dangerous convoy route.
Even the ships themselves were close to inhospitable, with thick layers of ice often covering the decks and making seemingly simple tasks near impossible.
This harsh climate meant that functional clothing was paramount, and thick roll-neck jumpers and large wool duffle coats provided much-needed protection against the freezing conditions. Whilst the navy personnel wore the standard-issue military uniform of the day, the clothes worn by the merchant sailors were far less regulated—and the only uniform given was a silver buttonhole badge engraved with the letters ‘MN’ (for Merchant Navy). This lack of a strict dress-code meant that more homely garb like hand-knitted fishing jumpers could often be found in the Arctic Convoys.
The AW20 Lybro range pays particular attention to the clothing worn for work at sea, taking inspiration from the tough, utilitarian clothing which would be worn on deck by both the military and the merchant sailors.
The Deck Smock is a new design for AW20 which is based on the classic USN Deck Smocks first introduced in the 1930s. Sometimes known as ‘Dungaree Parkas’, these waist-length jackets were designed as work-wear, and featured large hoods to fit over a helmet. The Cabourn version retains the key features of the historic design, but the original denim fabric has been replaced with garment-dyed gabardine cotton.
The Cold Weather Pants are another new creation made from that comfortable gabardine fabric. A fusion of two seldom-seen designs, they combine the angled knee-stitching found on RAF flight suits with the three-button gasmask pocket from the US Marine Corps ‘monkey pants’ for a unique take on military legwear.
Charting similar waters, the Arctic Jersey Pants are based on vintage naval cold weather trousers. Whilst the originals were often insulated for cold days at sea, these have been constructed from heavyweight smooth-back jersey cotton to make them a bit more suited to everyday life. A matching Hip Jacket has also been made from the same fabric, giving the option of a comfortable utility suit.
Overshirts have long been a mainstay of naval design and were heavily influential during the making of the Arctic Convoy collection. The Arctic Stripe Shirt is a two-pocket workshirt based on the CPO Shirts introduced by the US Navy in the 1930s, whilst the USMC Shirt features the signature rectangle pockets of the work-shirts worn by the United States Marine Corps.
For a collection heavily inspired by classic naval gear, it’s perhaps not much of a surprise to hear that the Naval Dungarees have returned. A trademark Nigel Cabourn design, these take cues from the ‘deck bibs’ worn by the US Navy, and feature many key features taken from the originals. This time around there’s two fabric options—a loosely-woven 12oz denim from Japan’s legendary Kuroki mill, and a tough cotton canvas which has been pigment-dyed for an authentic worn-in patina which is designed to improve with age.
This cotton canvas has also been utilised on other regular Lybro favourites such as the British Army Blazer, the British Army Jacket, the British Army Pants and the Army Chinos, meaning there’s a large array of suit options on offer.
It also goes without saying that the AW20 Lybro range is made to the high standard you’d expect from Nigel Cabourn, and just like the hard-wearing clothes worn by the crews of the Arctic Convoys, it’s most definitely built to last.