Nigel Cabourn X Henri Lloyd — for Land and Sea
Henri Lloyd is probably a familiar name to most people reading this. For over half a century they’ve been making gear fit for the high-seas, introducing countless design innovations to the sailing industry in the process.
This season, Nigel and his team have worked to create a small range of clothing inspired by the brand’s nautical history. By combining original functional details from the brand’s archives with a few ideas of his own, he’s created a selection of jackets, sweatshirts and polo shirts ideal for both land and sea.
We’ll get to the clothes shortly, but first, here’s a quick potted history of Henri Lloyd…
Founded in Manchester in 1963 by Henri Strzelecki and Angus Lloyd, the brand quickly made a name for itself thanks to a run of functional innovations. At a time when most yachtsmen were forced to resort to bulky and cumbersome PVC jackets to shelter from the elements, Henri Strzelecki knew something better was out there, and after searching through endless stacks of fabric, he found it… Bri-Nylon.
The British-made answer to nylon, this modern synthetic fabric ticked all the right boxes. Not only was it lightweight, but it was strong and it dried quickly, making it the ideal material to stand against the harsh seas. Keen to create the finest sailing jacket around, Henri then hired a Swiss company to develop the first nylon zip, as metal ones would often rust in the damp and salty sea air. The brand were also the first to introduce Velcro to the sailing industry—meaning jackets could be adjusted quickly with cold hands.
These useful and thoughtful details were lapped up by sailors, and in 1966 the brand was chosen to supply the clothes for Sir Henry Chichester’s historic 226 day round-the-world voyage.
As with a lot of great designs, these jackets eventually outgrew their original purpose to become something more. In the early 1980s these technical garments designed specifically for the high seas were co-opted by a band of Italian youths known as the Paninaro. Named after the Il Panino burger restaurant where they’d gather, this lot sought to distance themselves from their traditional parents by ignoring Italian heritage and hoovering up American culture.
They were obsessed with Rambo, they rode dirt-bikes and they wore a vague uniform of Timberland lug-soled shoes, pin-tucked Levi’s jeans and brightly coloured sweatshirts. The Henri Lloyd Consort Jacket, a bold piece of outerwear made from bright, eye-catching nylon fitted perfectly amongst all this.
Realising they’d inadvertently tapped into a new market, in 1984 Henri Lloyd drafted in Italian design maestro Olmes Caretti to redesign the Consort specifically with the Paninaro in mind. Famous as the man behind Best Company (another Paninaro favourite), Olmes added a corduroy collar, and turned the jacket out in countless colour combinations, inspired by the rich tones he remembered from his travels in Asia.
The jackets were also popular in the North West of England. The factory’s location in Salford’s Little Hulton meant that people in the area with zero interest in sailing were familiar with the brand, and local bands like The Happy Mondays and the lesser-known rap act First Offence were often spotted in the coats.
At a time when the city of Manchester was embracing acid house and brighter hues, the Consort was the ideal jacket. Thanks to those endless colour options, that classic ‘Round the World’ badge became a regular sight on the arms of those queuing up for a night at clubs like the Thunderdome and The Haçienda (which was, after all, a refurbished yacht showroom).
Today the brand continues to push the nautical envelope, and just a few months ago their Gore-Tex Fremantle range won the Clothing Innovation of the Year Award at the British Yachting Awards.
Which brings us nicely to 2020, and the new Nigel Cabourn collection. At the head of the fleet is the Spray Jacket. Referencing Henri Lloyd’s fine tradition of Bri-Nylon sailing jackets, this is a lightweight nylon jacket filled with nautical details. Those taped seams help keep the rain out, whilst the front pockets have holes in the bottom corners so they don’t fill with water. There’s also detachable nylon bag on the back which is affixed by a big bit of ‘H’ shaped velcro. This is a detail taken from vintage sailing jackets, and can be used either as a backpack, or on its own as a tote bag.
The Deck Jacket continues the theme for nylon fabric and taped seams, but has a shorter, sportier shape and a stand-collar. There’s a button storm flap to keep the breeze out and a two-way Vislon zip—a nod to the original nylon zips introduced by Henri Lloyd all those years ago.
Rounding it all off, there’s the loopback cotton Technical Sweater with its bold embroidered logo, and the Deck Polo and that contrasting cuff detail. These take inspiration from the well-crafted cotton sportswear which was prevalent during the early days of Henri Lloyd, are just the thing for wearing under a big sailing jacket. And it probably goes without saying that you don’t need to own a yacht to appreciate this stuff.