Nigel, Head to Toe
If you have ever crossed paths with the gregarious character that is Nigel Cabourn, you will know that he is always decked out head to toe in his own brand. That mix of vintage military inspiration and vintage utility garments with the modern know-how is so distinctive, nothing else would do for the man behind the self-named brand. That is, aside from his trusty rucksack which is never found far from his side and contains anything from his latest vintage find to a 5kg medicine ball (he is also a fitness nut).
You see, when Nigel and his team go about designing a collection they will take an arm pant, a naval shirt, a jacket from the airforce or maybe a piece of outdoor wear that originally went up Everest. This garment is then meticulously deconstructed, right down to the stitching and fabric, tweaked here and there and then brought back to life. The garments are truly beautiful to behold and this attention to detail and the sheer expertise in this field means he has garnered a worldwide reputation.
Back, to the Backpack
But back to this Rucksack, if everything else is his own brand, why not the Rucksack? Well, the rucksack itself falls into the category of these fine vintage military pieces Nigel uses to inspire his collections. It is perfectly designed, well made from the finest materials and well, it just does exactly what it says on the tin. It allows him to carry just about anything from A to B. So, this leads to another question. Why has this rucksack not been introduced into the collections before?
The answer lies in his meticulous attention to detail and unwavering demand for authenticity, the materials, namely the salt and pepper canvas the bag was made from are simply not available anymore. Luckily, Dutch brand Atelier de l’Armée were at hand to provide a solution.
This story goes all the way back to 2013 when Nigel met the founders of Atelier de l’Armée, Joost and Elza. They had been getting quite a reputation for themselves with Atelier de l’Armée and were becoming well known for crafting some simply stunning bags and accessories. It was a match made in heaven, with just one problem. That fabric. As they discussed a possible collaboration they knew that it would only work if they could source the original fabric used by the Swiss army back in the 60s. So for a time the project was shelved while the hunt was on.
A Few Years In The Making
After a year of searching, they finally found a single roll of this fabric. The material in itself is really quite fascinating. When the fabric was developed in the late 1930s, it was made up of purely cotton. However, the post-war years meant substances like cotton were rare. So the cotton fibres were combined with nettle fibres. The result was a durable, rugged water repellent fabric.
The roll of this selvedge fabric they had sourced contained barely enough fabric for 40 rucksacks, so you can believe that these are one of a kind and we won’t be seeing the like again.
You can get your hands on one through the Nigel Cabourn website or if you are about in London, head down to the army gym to check them out!