When we make jackets, we want to give you as much insight into our creative process as possible. Whether it's how our fabrics are made, the details we add or take away, and the mistakes made along the way. For Batch No.5, we wanted to push it a step further and show you month by month, how we approached the design of our heaviest jacket yet, and what we did to put it through its paces.
So here it is, Batch No.5, behind the scenes. If you like what you see, this jacket will be available to order at 9am GMT on the 7th November. It will be the last jacket of 2020.
December 31st 2019
It’s New Years Eve and we burst a tyre driving over a pot hole. Damn. We were on the way to the Applecross Inn, North West Scotland for a cosy meal, but we found ourselves changing the tyre wearing three jackets each to stay warm. We’d wished for a heavier, cosier jacket that could withstand the icey winds. Feeling a bit cold and foolish, the idea for the Applecross Jacket was born.
3rd January 2020.
It’s our first day back in the office. Actually, it’s our first ever day both being all in, full time. Until then, Paynter was our long distance side project.
But now Paynter needed our full attention.
So we started by looking into the past for inspiration for jackets that could do what we needed ours to do. We looked at the U.S. Navy for their over-shirts that left them warm while on duty in cold North Atlantic. Then to the loggers of the Pacific northwest who needed something to withstand the elements and could also take a beating.
We found mountain jackets, jac shirts and tough outerwear made from heavy wool. They were some of the most rugged jackets we'd seen. Some had even been handed down multiple generations, they were that good.
Early on we knew we were looking for wool for this jacket. We wanted natural, not synthetic. The search led us to Albano Morgado in Portugal, a specialist woollen mill who are entirely vertical. That means they take the raw wool, spin the yarn, weave, dye, finish and quality check the fabrics all under one roof.
We start by sampling two options: a Heavy Felted Lambswool, and a Doubleface Merino wool. Both beautiful, both entirely different options.
Late January 2020
If we were going to be working with wool, it must be ethically sourced.
By that we mean working with a mill who could provide certifications to prove the wool was non-mulesed sources, and can comply with the EU’s Reach 2020 certifications.
With certificates in hand, we’re happy to go ahead and we arrange for sample meters of both fabrics to be sent to Sergio at our factory, in Guimarães, Portugal. Together with a tech pack (aka sketches, measurements and instructions) and the fabric, Sergio and his team get to work on our first two samples.
Our samples arrive in London! There’s a small Merino doubleface, unlined jacket for Becky to start wear testing. For Huw, there’s a 22oz heavy lambswool, with lining, size Large. Days like this are always the most exciting.
But they’re never perfect.
It doesn’t take long to spot what needs to change first.
Unisex sizing isn’t going to work for women like it has done in the past for our chore jacket. The wool is much heavier and thicker, so rolling the cuffs just doesn’t work. Plus, this is a jacket built for winter, so it’s got to be comfortable to button up completely. For women (like me) with curves, that’s never been easy. Planning for our women’s fit begins.
Huw is wearing his navy lambswool sample almost everyday. This time in Porto on a last factory visit before lockdown...
Meanwhile, we make some tweaks to the dimensions of the flap pockets, they were too tight to fit an iPhone, not good! We also update the shape of the flap pocket just a tad. Less decorative. More classic.
We start searching for a new button. We’d been sampling with poppers from YKK originally. They looked spot on. But they were SO annoying. A continual rattle was following us around as we wore our samples, and it was those buttons that were at fault.
Everyone tell us ‘that’s just what snap buttons do’ unless we’d wanted another variety with a dummy-like shape. No thank you. We keep looking.
We’ve always wanted to make a Paynter Red. Red is so classic in outerwear, but not in the jackets we’d made before now, so we waited until this jacket.
At first, we were just going to go with Red, Navy and Olive. But then we brought in Camel for a smarter, city jacket.
May & June 2020.
Wear testing continues through the summer and Huw insists on wearing his next sample (this time a double face Merino in Paynter Red), despite it being 30 degrees. Luckily a pint is on hand to cool him down.
Later Summer 2020.
Lockdown restrictions ease and we head down south to see our friend Jen in Cornwall. Thank god for the British climate, it’s a dream for wear testing in all conditions! Last week we were in blistering heat, this week we’re having food ‘underneath’ the picnic blanket to save ourselves and our chips from the wind and rain. A solid test for our latest sample.
We hadn’t lined these latest samples. Merino shouldn’t be lined in our opinion, it defeats the point of breathability. However, it was clear the jacket wasn’t performing like we’d wanted it to. The soft fabric had a fairly open weave when you looked close, and it was letting wind get in. It just wasn’t warm enough.
Back to the drawing board.
Meanwhile Becky had sent our women’s measurement charts to Sergio at the factory, ready for our first women's fit sample to arrive.
Since Batch No.1 we’ve asked customers for their feedback on our jackets. Common themes were:
"I’m curvy on the hips, so I prefer to wear my jacket open", or "The unisex fit is great on the body, but the arms are too long, so I roll my cuffs".
Now, cuff rolling has never been a problem with our mid-weight jackets, until you’re trying to roll a think, heavy wool, with lining… not possible! By shortening the body just slightly, building in room for layering and curves, keeping generous hand warmer pockets, and shortening the sleeves, we hope to have made a new classic women's fit.
We also make updates to our men’s fit to make room for essential layering in winter. We want to keep our sizing consistent, even if you’ve got a hoodie underneath. Batch No.5 measurements are tweaked slightly to allow for knitwear and layers underneath men’s and women’s, without having to size up.
We’re getting closer. With our two fits planned out, it’s time for the final fabric decision.
Huw has been wearing the Heavy Lambswool since the very beginning, and yet the jacket looked like it had arrived yesterday. This was clearly a sturdy (and super smart) option.
Lambswool 1 - Merino 0.
The lambswool is a clear winner and so we decide to sample every jacket again, to make double-sure. Asking a factory to essentially start over is never an easy conversation, but we’re so glad we persevered, we’ll have a much better jacket as a result.
We wanted to test how the jacket would fair in the rain. But at the height of summer there was no rain in sight. We flipped a coin and Huw lost, so into the shower he got!
The results: The tightly woven wool fabric stood up pretty well, but after a while it did start to soak through. Granted it is pure wool and the shower was much heavier than your average rainfall. Batch No.5 will be water repellent but not water proof.
We sourced our lining locally. We produce in Portugal, the sheep who supply the wool live in Portugal, and the woollen mill is in Portugal. So guess where we looked for lining? Yup, Portugal.
We added weight to the original choice of lining so we had a heavyweight, super soft 6oz cotton twill, partnered with silky viscose for the sleeves so the heavy jacket is easy to slide on.
Finally, our search for the silent snap is complete. We win the ‘Rattle Battle’ with the help of Peter from Riri and their patented buttons. Finally!
Our final women's fit arrives and we love it!
Final tech packs are sent to our factory, aka instruction manuals for our final Applecross in both men’s and women’s. Sample meters of 22oz Lambswool are ordered, in four colours. Those meters take 4 weeks to be made.
Meanwhile, the colours and lining are agreed, we test dyes on the lining to make sure we can colour-match the inside and outside of your jacket. Success!
While we’re talking about the small details, we manage to source a recycled polyester label that we can use for the inside of your jacket, on the care label. Never overlook the small details.
We place the order for 1800m of lambswool after an incredible indication of interest in this jacket by our community. It’s by far the most expensive fabric we’ve worked with so far.
The 10 week fabric-making process begins and the countdown is on until launch day in November.
We head to Portugal now that travel restrictions have eased somewhat. It’s been longer than usual since we’ve been to our factory, so it’s great to see everybody working is safe and well and upbeat. We have a lot to talk about, and a lot to see. We rent a Fiat 500 and drive down south to Albano Morgado.
Becky was put to work in the mill and loved it so much she didn't want to leave...
Balthazar and Belmira give us an incredible tour of the mill and tell us what’s what at each step of the production line. If you become part of Batch No.5, you’ll find out exactly how your fabric is made via weekly behind the scenes content as your jacket is made for you.
After what seems like an age, 8 jackets arrive from Portugal. We have four size smalls, four size mediums, ready for our photoshoot with family as models and our friend Jim as photographer. This is when we see all the decisions coming together and allow ourselves to feel just a little bit proud.
We take our own photos in the living room while undertaking a two week quarantine after being in Portugal.
Our first day out after self isolation was our photoshoot. We spent two weeks inside with our heads down, then bam, 20,000 steps in a day. Ah, so good to be outside again.
November 7th, 2020. 9am GMT.
We await the big day and see if the work will pay off. Risking your whole business on three days a year isn’t something we’d recommend for the faint-hearted.
Batch No.5 will be available to order on the 7th of November at 9am GMT.
That’s when the work really begins. There’s the jacket, and then there’s the journey. If you're part of Batch No.5, you’ll see weekly updates as your jacket is made for you.
If you've read this far, thank you.