Ventile, the ugly facts they don’t tell you

Four years ago I posted a pretty critical piece about a fabric that at the time was on the brink of enjoying something of a comeback. The main point of the article was that the historical facts that were being bandied about might not actually be as historical as they were made out to be. There was much talk of RAF immersion suits saving the lives of fighter pilots that ended up in the cold sea, but research failed to turn up much in the way of actual evidence for this claim. In fact, Ventile didn’t seem all that big a deal. You can read the original article here.

In this article, I want to make 3 points. These relate to the environment, to marketing and the alternative. Please pay attention.

Since my first article was posted, Ventile has increased massively in popularity, so much so that it’s just about everywhere at the moment.  More and more brands are using it, the same story is still being retold and the legend seemingly lives on. Oh, and the “Made in Britain” movement has embraced it.

The first point that really bugs me is the claims made for the eco-friendliness of the fabric. As the story goes, Ventile works by the cotton fibres swelling up and making it waterproof. This means the fabric gets wet, and when wet no more water will pass through. Now, this sounds well and good, although this is probably not what your average consumer wants. A wet jacket is a wet jacket and a wet jacket is not very pleasant, even though there may be no more water coming through once it’s wet. What works for a fire-hose might not be as suitable for a raincoat, right? And damp cotton surely can’t be much of a problem for the environment. Or can it?

No doubt that Ventile makes the water gather in droplets, but why does this happen?

No doubt that Ventile makes the water gather in droplets, but why does this happen?

The environment

So how does Ventile really work? Well, facts on the table, it’s treated with a DWR (Durable Water Repellant). This effectively kills all claims of Ventile being the eco-friendly outdoors fabric and also renders much of the historical facts null and void. Not just any DWR either, but fluorocarbons (PFC’s), which are now becoming known as genuinely nasty chemicals. From the website Greenpeace has set up on this topic:

“Per- and polyfluorinated chemicals are a family of man-made, fluorine-containing chemicals with unique properties to make materials stain resistant and waterproof. PFCs are incredibly resistant to break down; some have the potential to remain in the environment for hundreds of years after being released. They are turning up in unexpected places around the world. These pollutants have been found in secluded mountain lakes and snow, they’ve been discovered in the livers of polar bears in the Arctic and even in human blood.”

These C8 fluorocarbons are also strongly linked to some forms of cancer and have a half-life of between 4 and 8 years, so even if we stopped using them today, they’ll linger on for some time. The industry is hard at work replacing these long chain compounds with an alternative, shorter chain compounds  called C6, which although they don’t work as well and spread even easier than the long chain ones are are still legal to use. Ah, it’s such a familiar game, right? Also, even if the C6 fluorocarbons turn out to be benign, they are apparently so polluted by C8 that there is little actual difference when used.

Side note: Greenpeace is running a Detox Outdoor campaign with regards to PFC’s in outdoor clothing. They are following up a number of manufacturers, wanting them to commit to phasing out PFC’s before 2020. It’s quite a paradox that Patagonia, currently the darling of saving the planet is listed as “Out of the race” in this respect. 

The marketing

Another major selling point of Ventile has been that’s it’s a British fabric. Invented in Britain, made in Britain, sold as British. Only, it’s kind of not really all that British now and hasn’t been for a while. According to Wikipedia it hasn’t been made in Britain since before 2000. You will notice how cagey the Ventile labels are though, using words such as “developed in” or “originally woven in”, where they really really want you to understand it as “made in Britain”. These days it’s actually made by a Swiss company called Stotz as their “etaProof” brand, and then re-branded for the Ventile-hungry market. They don’t make any mention of it being treated with fluorocarbons on their website either.

This is from the UK Ventile website in September 2010 (it’s archived at Archive.org, if you would like to verify). Notice how it clearly says “Woven in the UK” and “Ventile® is not coated or laminated”.

These days the Ventile website has been taken over by Stotz, but the mention of water repellants is still kind of buried in the specifications. I’m not sure if it’s entirely correct to describe it as entirely natural and not coated? The wording is at the very least intended to convey something that most would argue is untrue. It’s no longer woven in the UK though, so some progress has been made.

Developed by... As used by... Originally woven in...

Developed by… As used by… Originally woven in…

I contacted Stotz and they confirmed that the production of Ventile is three processes, where spinning has taken place since the early 1980s in Switzerland, weaving since 1999 in Switzerland and dyeing/finishing since the 1970s in Switzerland and Austria. No small wonder the Ventile labels have the fuzzy “Developed in England since 1943” text.

In an odd occurrence of cosmic synchronicity, Ventile UK announced last week that Stotz was taking over the supply of Ventile. Hmm.

I have asked many of the companies currently making garments from Ventile what type of Ventile they use and whether it has been treated with fluorocarbons. Every single one has shrugged and pointed to the official line or something along the lines of “Yeah, the cotton swells like, used for fire-hoses and immersion suits, proper lifesaver! Awesome!”. Indeed.

Notice how sneaky this label is? Developed in Britain, but not in any way implying that it is made in Britain...

Notice how sneaky this label is? Developed in Britain, but not in any way implying that it is made in Britain…

The alternative

Ah, but there is a final redeeming point! Stotz also makes an alternative “organic” version of their “Ventile”. This is made using organically grown cotton and is treated with a paraffin wax, in effect making it more like a traditional waxed cotton. The wax coating is said to be less effective for treating outdoors fabric than DWR-treated traditional “Ventile”, though both variants do require retreatments to uphold their water repellant properties. There is also the point of paraffin wax being a product made of hydrocarbons from petroleum, coal or oil shale, and hence neither environmentally friendly or sustainable. Granted, paraffin wax is less evil than fluorocarbons, but there are better ways of doing this. Beeswax is an option, but scarcer than the man-made variants.

There is a definite trade-off here though and I would strongly suggest that if you want Ventile, make sure you are getting the more environmentally sound organic variant. If the maker even knows what type they are using, which is far from certain given the amount of subterfuge involved in propping up the Ventile story. I have only found one company using this organic Ventile, the small Danish company called Dedenroth.

UPDATE: I contacted Stotz and they claim they have stopped using C8 and only use C6 now (though as mentioned, this doesn’t change much). They can offer the waxed treatment on both the organic version and the regular variants of the fabric.

 

Further reading:

My first post on Ventile

Grough Magazine has published a masterclass titled “Waterproof clothing and fluorocarbons – What you need to know about your beloved jacket”. Read it.

Gary S. Selwyn, PhD “C6, C8 and See No Evil

NikWax also has a good article about the fluorocarbon issues.

 

 

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53 Comments

  • Keith Douglas 20/05/2017 at 11:39

    This is genuinely very interesting, as I have been looking to replace my Gore Tex jacket with something more natural looking, and Howies Winston jacket is made from Ventile. The name Winston, combined with Ventile’s Spitfire pilot dunked in the English channel (but still dry)image is an appealing one for an older chap like me. I will think again……….

    Reply
  • John P 20/05/2017 at 12:59

    Nick, I think Adidas also used the alternative in some of the Spezial range in the last couple of years, can’t remember which piece it was though.
    On a different level the pollution caused by the denim industry is insane and the stories told by makers are full of half truths and hyperbole, China makes some great denim and loads of shit throwaway stuff too but it all adds up. https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/6283-The-denim-capital-of-the-world-so-polluted-you-can-t-give-the-houses-away

    Reply
    • nick 20/05/2017 at 13:34

      Thank’s John! We’ll have to look at one fabric at a time, though I agree denim is a bad case!

      Reply
  • Holdfast 25/06/2017 at 09:18

    The Ventile WW2 story is a very appealing one, but no account I have read aside from the one here makes any mention of chemicals being used, just the semi magical properties of the cotton. A similar hype and price surrounds Grenfell Cloth which I had a coat made from. Very nice it looked and felt, but waterproof, or windproof? Not really. Barbour wax jackets unless recoated virtually once a month are also similarly hopeless at keeping out the wet. In a strong downpour they go stiff and cold. The nicest looking vintage Barbours with their wonderful patinas have no water resistant properties at all. My most waterproof garment? An old wool and cotton gaberdine rain coat.

    Reply
    • nick 25/06/2017 at 09:26

      The fact that everyone keeps up the old hype and never mentions the iffy chemicals was what compelled med to write this piece. I did a previous one questioning the historical angle. I’m not out to get Ventile, just asking for some honesty. Grenfell cloth looks nice, but no experience with it.

      Reply
  • Gordon 21/07/2017 at 12:52

    I’m with you wanting much improved candor in marketing–not just Ventile and not just clothing, either. The references you gave at bottom were all extremely educational. My search for a good rain jacket is much better informed thanks to your article.

    Reply
  • Joseph 14/09/2017 at 10:26

    Indeed, the branding has long been very disingenuous. And the demise of the Lancashire mill is still available in news reports online from the 1990s. Some American brands even use the word ‘waterproof’ in their Ventile textile labels – which it isn’t (only weatherproof; not quite achieving a hydrostatic head measurement of 1000). Many apparel manufacturers are also keen to emphasize the rain-proof integrity but fail to mention that their product uses only a single layer (and not double, which is where Ventile achieves most of its reputation). Alternative companies rebranding the etaproof (“Ventile”) cotton have chosen to do so to move away from Ventile’s obsession with waterproofing? The material remains a fantastic functional cotton with many advantages over “ordinary” cotton but it is not a waterproof alternative to the dozens of modern textiles now available. “Duuton3” for example promotes the same material as a wonder cotton; not a wonder waterproof material. The material has long deserved a more sophisticated re-positioning. The Duuton brand attempts to prise the material away from the hunting/fishing and bush craft community (who obese about waterproofing) and promote its use more pragmatically amongst functional clothing, travel wear and even practical fashion. Ventile (aka etaproof) is a great fabric, for doing some things well, but as ever a dodgy USP claim and a slightly hazy misrepresentation has come close to killing its own brand name.

    Reply
  • Helen 25/09/2017 at 09:19

    Nick, you say “… Danish Dedenroth. They are admirable [for] making their jackets in Denmark.” For many small niche clothing companies it is not economically viable to make their clothes anywhere BUT their home country. Minimum orders and shipping costs from the better (producing superb quality) Chinese manufacturers removes this option for the small “start up”. Nothing to do with being “admirable”. I always smile when I see this narrative turned to their own PR advantage. I’ve lost count of the amount of brands which end up shipping from china once they’re big enough.

    Reply
    • nick 25/09/2017 at 10:51

      Hi Helen, no one is more cynical when it comes to this than I am, and yet I disagree with you. If you know the situation in Denmark, and really the rest of the Nordics, you’d realise that there is virtually no home textile industry. It’s all been sold to East Europe, and this is mainly where the smaller garment companies have their products made. Supporting a small local textile industry likely is more of a hassle and more expensive than having a factory in Latvia or Portugal produce, hence why I applaud supporting the local effort. And for me the “Made in Denmark” (and likewise “Made in Britain”) is a selling point. And yes, I know it’s not a simple made here or there question, what with companies actively masking the country of origin, finishing products to the exact requirements to achieve a certain country of production and so forth. In my country, Norway, there used to be a strong garment industry, now it’s almost all gone.

      Reply
      • Helen 25/09/2017 at 13:03

        All very fine points and on this occasion this ‘may’ be the case. I do bulk however at how often companies have their goods made locally simply for tiny production runs, being able to change designs quickly, talk directly to the manufacturer (to compensate for lack of knowledge) and not to have to hold stock is then palmed off as some sort of crusade and loyalty and even promote the notion that the production is automatically better quality (which it very often certainly is not). Listening to Monicle Eutreprenur podcasts is always full of companies having their goods made in local textile houses (e.g in East London) where the UK textile industry has equally been decimated, simply because it is their only option. They then market them at a premium claiming the U.K. manufacture needs paying for (on the complete myth that it shall be better quality). 99% of the time the whole we are proud to manufacture in {insert your country here} is a complete croc. Great, do it if you want to or have to but I resent the typical nonsense narrative that is then adopted. All too often it absolutely has nothing at all to do with being admirable. Thanks for reply – love your site!

        Reply
  • Kartturi 10/11/2017 at 13:03

    I salute this article in its inquisitiveness! As a side note, you didn’t really touch performance: I’d be keen to get some genuine feedback on that.

    You see, my reference point is a soon to be ten year old GoreTex hard shell that’s been with me through thick and thin and is now on it’s last legs. I’ve been looking for a replacement and after reading people wax all poetic about Fjällrävens G1000, about Paramo’s Analogy and Ventile, I’ve tried all but the last even going so far as to develop my own hot waxing method for G1000 to try and make it cash half the promises the marketing makes. All have failed to stand up to actual use; none other than the old-fashioned GoreTex has stood even close to a full hour in moderate to hard driving rain without leaking miserably. Since it seems I’m reasonably regularly in that position, I would expect a ‘weatherproof’ let alone waterproof garment to stand at least a few hours of constant rain.

    I’d be happy to switch, if there’s a product that is equal or better to GoreTex but it seems reviewers don’t often take their review samples out in the world to produce information that is useful for me or they are willing to compromise on performance much more than I am.

    Reply
    • nick 10/11/2017 at 13:17

      I have to confess to not owning a full jacket in Ventile, so I have no real world experience of how it handles hard rain. Various reports I’ve read indicate it needs to get sodden before it actually stops further water penetration (which doesn’t sound like a very comfortable prospect). I recently acquired a trekking jacket from Ebbelsen (shown on Instagram a few times now), this is made from Duutton, a close relative of Ventile. I’ve used this in the rain with decent results, though it hasn’t been a case of total immersion. I tend to think that total protection can only be found in materials that totally stop anything penetration, mainly in the form of rubberised cotton (either with the rubber on the outside, as seen on repro rainwear such as Stutterheim, or on the inside, as Mackintosh make it). The disadvantage here is that the while the rain stays out, it also means any damp generated on the inside also stays on the inside… Is there a perfect product? I’m truly not sure.

      Reply
      • Joseph 10/11/2017 at 15:03

        Kartturi – I read your notes with interest. Some quick points…

        1. Ventile is not waterproof
        2. Ventile garments are not claimed to be waterproof
        3. G1000 is not waterproof
        4. G1000 garments are not claimed to be waterproof
        5. With Goretex and cotton materials you are comparing oranges with apples (or even oranges with chocolate?)
        6. What you “expect” is a self imposed ideal and not related to what manufacturers are telling you
        7. We shouldn’t expect waterproof jackets to last up to 10 years?
        8. Ventile et al are fantastic for doing what they are designed for. If you want a waterproof garment you couldn’t do much better than heading down to JJB sports buying a cheap Karrimor jacket made of EVENT (very waterproof / very breathable) and then replacing it in 3 to 4 years time.

        Ventile is as this article explains another name used to brand etaProof cotton. The Wiki article this article references also points out that Duuton3 is also another name used to brand etaProof cotton. (Although this seems to easily confuse a lot of people)? People who forever “bang on about” or discuss, or puzzle-over how waterproof Ventile/Duuton3/etaProof is, always – and I mean always – fail to grasp the faintest notion that the best Ventile Jackets are made from two layers. Thats two. More than one. More than a single layer of the fabric. Two layers or double layer, is equal to two layers of the textile. As in double. As in twice the protection. Twin skin Ventile is much better at keeping out the wet as the outer layer protects the inner layer. A double layer Ventile jacket is very good at keeping the user inside dry. This is nothing to do with weather the fabric is waterproof?
        This is where Ventile has forged its reputation, but most garments on the market today (waxing lyrical about Ventile) use only a single layer as the material is not cheap. (It takes hours to make, uses extra-long staple fibers and uses a lot of them as the fabric is very dense). But it is extremely hard-wearing and can – as they say – last a lifetime.

        Ventile/Duuton3/etaProof is a fantastic functional and practical cotton used to make functional and practical outdoor garments made of cotton. If you want a waterproof garment, then choose from any of the HUNDREDS now available on the market. Ventile/Duuton3/etaProof feature the added benefit of providing decent weatherproofing on the unexpected occasions you are caught in the rain to a much greater standard than standard cotton. Its as simple as that.

        Thanks!

        Reply
        • nick 10/11/2017 at 15:40

          Good point regarding double layers, I had considered that. The Ebbelsen jacket is double layer.

          Reply
        • Kartturi 10/11/2017 at 22:58

          Good and fair points Joseph!

          Maybe it’s my own fault for believing the marketing copy in the first place, but from a functional perspective, if I buy something that’s said to be an all-weather general outdoors jacket/smock/parka, you’re (not you personally of course) not doing a good job at delivering that if I get wet and cold on every third outing. And after 20 years of outdoors, hiking, camping and such I’m decent at layering so I’m thinking it’s not just user error. I just might give Ventile another look if I come across an opportunity, but I might just take your advice and get another standard GoreTex or eVent shell and hope for the best.

          I also accept that 10 years is on the outside for the lifetime of such a product, It’s just that I’ve been very lucky with the one I have and I haven’t seen many things that would deliver me better performance for a decent price.

          As a side note, that’s actually a good question how long should we expect things to last? My intuition is that from an engineering or design standpoint, we should expect little less than ten years with good care, and at a minimum five, because I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Of course professional heavy use is a different matter.

          Reply
        • Kartturi 10/11/2017 at 23:07

          And a further point I forgot to add, is that what exacerbates the problem is that people who write about garments tend to wax lyrical rather than be explicit how well in what exact conditions a given product performs. I wouldn’t be so disappointed in G1000 for example if I wouldn’t have first read reviews that say it’s the best thing since sliced bread and then go on to experience something wildly different. It’s fine if a fabric or material is sort of mildly weatherproof for that brief shower that happens to pass on an otherwise overcast but maybe breezy day and dries quickly afterwards, but people should then say so directly, and perhaps go on to add that if you’re thinking of buying something that is for all-weather, then look for something else.

          Reply
          • Joseph 11/11/2017 at 10:56

            A good balanced perspective. Personally I love my ventile jacket as it’s comfortable to wear for a variety of days outdoors. On the occasions when the weather has become much more wet than exepected – such as a long walk around morecombe bay at Christmas – the double layer system kept me dry. The outer layer wetted out completely but the inner stayed dry. It became heavy and stiff and wouldn’t be ideal for serious use and I wouldn’t choose it if I was expecting rain, but it’s nice to know it’ll keep me dry if I needed it. For hill walking I use Dermizax NX (the nx part is important) as it’s waterproof and extremely breathable, but does not rely on pores, has some stretch, and is very tough. But Ventile in the 21st century should drop the whole waterproof thing. It’s much more weatherproof than ordinary cotton and can last decades. Its windproof and quiet and comfortable. It is a great cotton textile but it shouldn’t get involved in discussions about being waterproof. Nicks observations are correct – the Ventile brand has been a bit mischievous over the years.

  • John 20/11/2017 at 13:26

    Thank you for writing these so we can have a different perspective about Ventile. I found that some Ventile fabrics are also made in Japan by a company called Daiwabo. I really wonder how they are different from those made in Europe. Have you ever compared them?

    Reply
    • nick 20/11/2017 at 16:37

      Daiwabo is a new one to me, but I’m not surprised if there is a Japanese variantion of densely woven long-fiber cotton as well. Maybe we can cast the question out here? Has anyone else compared Daiwabo to Western Ventile variations?

      Reply
  • Joseph 20/11/2017 at 17:06

    As far as I understand Stotz of Switzerland claim and continue to claim that they are the only producer of this specification of cotton in the world. (And as stated on their website for years). China (and presumably Japan?) have never been able to produce the material and/or any cheaper as the raw materials and their costs are the same globally. (The raw ELS cotton materials are in limited supply; 2% of available cotton globally and grown successfully only in certain parts of the world). Bizarrely, although “ventile” is used for the bushcraft market etc, its really an extremely premium product (and is too expensive for most clothing brands to make a “turn” on and achieve any kind of reasonable retail price point). Most ventile garments are sold directly to consumer from manufacturer, as that’s the only way to make the numbers work (but people will always moan about the price, never realizing quite what they’re getting). It takes hours of skilled labour to make “ventile”. There have always been lots of cotton textiles which claim to have improved weather resistance, from China and elsewhere, but “ventile” is a certain specification with incredible and unrivaled warp/weft count and density. I’m also of the opinion that Stotz themselves regularly teeter on whether to continue its production. And their “off the self” colour options and held stock are tiny. Hope this helps?

    Reply
    • Joseph 20/11/2017 at 17:13

      Update: daiwabo is not a textile manufacturer? They refer to “Ventile” in clothing products, but they can’t make “Ventile” fabric as it is a registered trademark? They import and distribute, or represent, clothing MADE of Ventile.

      Reply
      • Joseph 20/11/2017 at 17:21

        Update update! Consulting the global trademark index, it appears that daiwabo do indeed own the trademark “Ventile” for China? Although it isn’t clear whether they make the textile, or to the same specification? I can faintly recall something about this with a case involving Barbour many years ago? If I remember correctly any textile from this company, called Ventile, can not be sold in Europe. (Which would make sense). So in a way I guess we’re back to square one, as you can only purchase garments with a “ventile” label of the variety made in Switzerland?

        Reply
  • charles OS 05/12/2017 at 22:36

    Very interesting having stumbled in here I have on many occasions in the past and more recently been thinking of going into more natural materials for my out door gear. I am in throes of replacing my Goretex Berghaus Trango Extrem (32Yrs Old) as it is becoming porous due to the PTFE breaking down but that said I’m not complaining as it has been high altitude trekking in the Himalaya, ski-mountaineering in the Arctic, Alaska and various other areas of northern Scandinavia and has been well used for day to day urban life and travel. I have an even older goretex from Berghaus that is now virtually porous but it still works, sort of………..From my perspective one other or both will be replaced by the softer versions of goretex out there now.

    Reply
  • Graham O 20/12/2017 at 10:41

    This has been a good read as I’ve just found out that Ventile is now Stotz. A lot is being said on here of waterproofness, but that is only one element of an outdoor garment, there is also longevity, comfort, breathability, quietness, windproofness etc. The list goes on. To look at Ventile or equivalents only for waterproofness is not right because it offers so much more. We manufacture in Ventile and our products are used in extreme cold conditions where it is superb and out performs almost everything else. I’ve seen examples which have been dog sledding/snow mobiling/wood chopping in Alaska and Sweden for 15 years, and yes, they look a bit rough around the edges, but they are still in regular use.
    Even in the UK climate, I find that single layer Ventile, with good base layers is a good option. It may not be suitable for the “average consumer” mentioned in the article, but for those who understand it, it is perfect for some environments and conditions. You just have to know it’s limitations and work with them. However, the same can be said of any of today’s “technical” fabrics.

    Reply
    • JOSEPH 20/12/2017 at 11:18

      You manufacture in Ventile and have just found out it is Stotz? It has “been Stotz” for over 20 years? And over the years, with the exchange rates it’s been cheaper to buy the fabric directly from Stotz – but you couldn’t then use the trademark Ventile: and benefit from their amazing website and amazing marketing budget!, NOT! Or forever be associated with bearded men droning on about how waterproof Ventile might be or the BS and dated awful marketing dross about WW2 fighter pilots? I hope you’ve read the comments in full as these are as informative as the original article. And I agree with your observations about the cotton textile simply being an excellent outdoor fabric. In my humble opinion the marketing genius with the Ventile trademark has really damaged this product’s perception for the modern era. But it looks like they’ve given up now anyway.

      Reply
      • Graham O 20/12/2017 at 11:48

        What I meant Joseph, is that the link to Stotz is now in the open and it is being “branded” as such. I visited the Ventile weaving plant when it was still being made in Chorley but I knew it was being made in Switzerland in recent years. The previous brand owners were “cagey” about the sourcing.
        Interesting what you say about the exchange rates because everytime I looked at Etaproof, it was more expensive.

        Reply
        • JOSEPH 20/12/2017 at 13:02

          Ah, that’s clearer; thank you. The company I worked for would buy euros in advance when they were cheap and get good deals on etaproof. Then buy “some” Ventile from the U.K. importer and brand all their garments with the Ventile trademark. “Ventile” never seemed to catch on? (BTW yes it’s now out in the open as you say, but every single clothing manufacturer colluded with “Ventile” in being disingenuous with the public being perfectly happy to not correct everyone’s assumption that it was no longer made in the U.K. which has been really naughty of everyone! Your choice of words confirms this. Amazing what one simple update on Wikipedia can do within 12mths. The game is up).

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          • Graham O 20/12/2017 at 18:08

            Sorry to go on about it Joseph, but you made an incorrect assumption about my first post, and now you have made another incorrect assumption about my second. I have never made any claims to it being British made and I don’t think you can assume that from anything I’ve said. To make sweeping claims about “every single clothing manufacturer colluded with Ventile” is wrong. My “choice of words confirms this”? I only said that Ventile were cagey about the sourcing, not I.

          • JOSEPH 20/12/2017 at 18:36

            No incorrect assumptions what so ever Graham. Ironically you have incorrectly read my words (written in plain black text on a white background). 1. I did not say you or any other manufacturer has claimed the fabric was British made. (Read my comment again). But yes every single manufacturer did avoid stating that the fabric was not british made or state that it was in fact made in Switzerland. I challenge you to produce any literature or evidence of any clothing company or your very own company, makining Ventile clothing, to prove me wrong. Every single one of you have been happy to keep your mouth shut about the misleading narrative maintained by the trademark owners. 2. “the link to Stotz is now out in the open” are also your very choice of words. 3. My first alleged incorrect assumption was not incorrect as it was not an assumption. I merely read what you stated which was: “This has been a good read as I’ve just found out that Ventile is now Stotz.” So, no assumptions made. I know the company you represent and you make very fine products Sir, but I am absolutely correct that none of you ever did anything to correct people’s assumptions that the textile was still British made. You know that, and I know that. It wasn’t your responsibility to do so, but it was always very convenient to let the Ventile myth rumble on. Anywhere else shouting about the fabric being made in Switzerland would be a major and obvious marketing strength, but, er, not if people already think it’s made in Britain, eh? 😉

        • Lars 21/01/2018 at 23:20

          Yes and I can say for Germany that nobody knows Ventile here and if rather as Etaproof. Also single layer jackets from etaproof here cost as much as double layer ventile jackets in the UK.

          Reply
  • Lars 21/01/2018 at 23:41

    Interestingly Stotz now think more on environment issues. In 2016 I wrote them complaining about their PFC DWR. They did answer but seemed not to care much about it. To me the whole concept of DWR on Ventile doesnt make much sense to me. Ventile should get wet to “work” for what its made for, swell up and close the gaps. But the dwr prevent this. Much worse I think is their alternative with wax. This will caulk the fibre and maybe hinder the fibre to swell. This is against the logic of the ventile function.
    Interestingly Stotz just dont sell ventile/etaproof garment without any DWR wax. You cant get clean ventile!!!
    The cotton quality dropped a lot in the last 10-20 years. Main issue is the fibre is getting shorter and shorter but they need long fibre! I a also asked my self how the ventile quality was 20-30 years ago? Maybe it was much better. Maybe Stotz only sell garemnt with dwr to hide that ventile isnt as good as it once was. I dont know, just some thoughts.

    Reply
    • JOSEPH 22/01/2018 at 10:58

      You are right. The DWR is primarily an aid to garment and textile production. It helps the fabric slide through the production process more easily and cleanly. However, it is applied to the outside of the fabric, not to the fibres (before they were twisted and before they form the fabric). It does stop light showers well, and rolls the water off so that the cotton does not absorb any damp and weight. However once it is over powered by heavier rain the fibres absorb moisture, swell and work. The new wax alternative however already has published results – by stotz – of lower hydrostatic head measurements and is less weatherproof.

      Reply
      • Lars 25/01/2018 at 16:27

        Hm the DWR is mainly added as what is named for durable WATER repelnt. A producer of ventile clothes show me a mail where Stotz itself wrote that ventile without DWR performs poorly! My experience with wax on regular fabric is that it let the water drip of but get wet almost as quick as without. So if Stotz want to take responsibility for the environment, Why they stick with PFC even C6 isnt better. There are DWR that are even better than C8 but no problem for environment.
        https://www.greenthemetek.com/

        Reply
        • Joseph 25/01/2018 at 16:39

          The DWR wears off quite quickly (and Ventile carries on working just fine). It’s well known in the textile industry that the silicon aids production of many materials and has been marketed as a performance benefit; which it also very much happens to be. This is very old info and well established. Ventile with DWR works great/better for light showers but the core Ventile logic works irrespective of a DWR treatment in heavier prolonged rain.

          Reply
          • Lars 25/01/2018 at 17:17

            Do you work for Stotz?
            You totally avoid why they stick with this terrible poison PFC if there are even better solutions than wax.

          • JOSEPH 25/01/2018 at 19:22

            I’m not avoiding anything? I didn’t even know there was anything to avoid? I’ve offered more detailed information on here than anyone? If you have a question, stop rambling and just ask it? If you want to know why Stotz use DWR… they have stopped. If you think you know of a better environmentally safe version and wonder why they don’t use, I don’t know, ask them?

          • Lars 25/01/2018 at 20:45

            I asked you if you are working for Stotz? You didnt answer.
            ” If you want to know why Stotz use DWR… they have stopped”
            They dont have stopped using DWR.
            ” If you think you know of a better environmentally safe version”
            Better? As if PFC is environmentally safe. Its not. Didnt you get that? And its not only the environment. If you wear it directly on your skin like a shirt or a trouser it will go into your body thru the skin and accumulate.

          • JOSEPH 25/01/2018 at 23:53

            Why have you adopted your tone and attitude? This is not social media and this is not a debate about politics? You have no right to ask me personal questions about where I work, but no, I do not work for Stotz (they are based in Switzerland). Yes I got it but it appears that you didn’t. Stotz now only produce a wax version. All other versions are no longer produced. Didn’t you get that? There are potentially alternative synthetic – man made – chemical alternatives which are allegedly environmentally safe, but I do not know why Stotz do not use them. ( If I worked for them I would know). Your Brocken English is not the easiest to understand so your rudeness is very misplaced. Please don’t respond to my message, or contributions. Good luck!

          • Lars 27/01/2018 at 14:26

            Where do you got your knowledge from? Even Stotz itself say on their hp that only the bio cotton is PFC free.
            http://stotzfabrics.ch/de/outdoor/
            The update of this article say they use c6 PFC now.
            And if you make up assertions that are against the information of the producer of this fabric, you should have some proof.
            “rudeness” “Brocken English” I dont know what you are talking about!!! And I dont even care because its off-topic

          • Joseph 27/01/2018 at 15:32

            What on God’s earth are you talking about now??? I’m not disagreeing with you? What is your problem? You are arguing with yourself?

          • Lars 27/01/2018 at 18:49

            Are you joking? You wrote:

            “If you want to know why Stotz use DWR… they have stopped.”

            ” Stotz now only produce a wax version. All other versions are no longer produced.”

            I show you their hp where you can see that the other none waxed PFC treated version all still offered and now you say you dont disagree?
            WTF

          • Joseph 27/01/2018 at 21:12

            Wah wah wah wah. Very very bored. BTW Stotz etaproof is an excellent fabric.

    • JOSEPH 22/01/2018 at 11:08

      Re: “how the ventile quality was 20-30 years ago?” Its better now than its ever been. Modern computerized looms and higher/faster air jet blowing for threads has improved the product.

      Reply
  • Lars 22/01/2018 at 00:02

    Here is maybe another copy of ventile from Maloja. I asked them if its ventile or etaproof. They wrote the it is an own development. sure
    https://www.maloja.de/collection/article.php?c=2,10,29,293&s=8142
    “Storm Cotton is a functional fabric made from 100% cotton. Tightly twisted cotton yarns are woven into an extremely dense plain weave cloth. The results from the woven process are a dense all weather fabric, which has a natural touch and protects against wind and light rain. Product made from Storm Cotton is the perfect companion on chilly days and in variable weather conditions.”

    “Tightly twisted cotton yarns are woven into an extremely dense plain”
    Sounds familiar ; )

    Reply
    • JOSEPH 22/01/2018 at 11:05

      There have always been lots and lots of “tightly twisted cotton” weather resistant cottons around, but Ventile/etaProof still has an incredible 15,000 individual strands of yarn, and an unmatched 30 weft threads and 80+ warp threads per CM. That’s whats so impressive about etaProof.

      Reply
  • Kevin 11/02/2018 at 00:39

    In respect of peoples queries on performance all I can say is that I got a double-layer Ventlie Jacket a Christmas and love it. To me it is light; and water beads on it. Today I’ve been out in heavy rain and remained dry and warm. I guess the outer layer does feel ever slightly damp when you get in doors – but that’s about it. I would buy another at a drop of a hat.

    Reply
  • Mas 19/02/2018 at 20:04

    Hi

    Wow I feel I have to answer this- there is a bit too much self righteousness and damning fabrics & companies with a surface glance.

    1. MOD use – plenty of factual evidence to back this up (see below for references. But fact is MOD still were buying this fabric during Falklands war and even today. Its a good fabric but like anything it has situations it is superb at and others not so much. Suits some people and not others. Don’t knock a good fabric just because it doesn’t suit you. I do notice you have never even used it???

    2. CFC6 – Everyone and his band wagon has jumped onto this without knowing the full story and implications – check your facts pollutants by other sources including car tires is a a huge contributory factor to this type of pollution. Patagonia rather than selling substandard products have improved what CF’s they are using and are spending millions trying to solve this problem. A far better approach than saying the emperors fine clothes are beautiful when he really is naked. Too many brands out there are paying lip service rather than actively looking at ways to make this planet greener.
    just as an aside did you know the military are allowed to use C8 & C6 as its the only repellency that works with oil & water. When you see Greenpeace’s boats go whizzing by just check what their sea suits are made of…. I like Greenpeace and I like the campaign but its not actually targeting the real problem. Its going after a very easy target that actually has very little effect on this situation.

    Now if you had said cotton is the worlds dirtiest crop I would have to agree with you. The only upside to this is it will last a lifetime if looked after. Event Goretex – a few years and goretex is toxic when it breaks down in the environemnt – PTFE!!! DANGER!!

    MARKETING
    Ventile’s marketing is terrible – they have none! A few nice labels that are actually produced by the manufacturers is hardly Ventile’s fault. Compared to the travesty of the pepsi adverts for example this is very small meal.
    All in all – well written article pity you took a shallow glance and didn’t fact check.

    Waterproof and Water Repellent Textiles and Clothing EPUB
    Edited by John T Williams
    Part of the The Textile Institute Book Series series

    Reply
    • nick 23/02/2018 at 11:05

      Hi Mas,
      thank you for the passionate comment, and interesting to hear from someone professionally involved in performance fabrics.
      I think you may have missed the actual three points I wanted to make in my article. I’ll respond to your points in order:
      1) There is no question of whether the MOD has used Ventile or not. There is no doubt at all that they have used massive amounts of it, one only has to look at all the Ventile army gear for sale. The question was whether it was ever actually used in survival suits or not, which has been referred to a lot in Ventile lore. I had help from a museum historian in looking at this, and he was unable to find historical proof. A small point maybe, but as it’s such a keen part of the story, it had to be made.
      2) I’m not entirely sure what the point you are making here is, though I think it’s that when it comes to fluorocarbons there are worse things around, there are people allowed to use them as they work, Gore Tex is also toxic and so forth.
      Yes, indeed, we are taking shitty care of the planet and there are a huge amount of bad things of various nature and consequence being used and dumped. I don’t think this means we only need to focus on the absolutely worst pollutants though, and fluorocarbons are in any case way up the list. Making light of the fact that a maker actively lies about using a DWR in their products and masking this by claiming water repellancy entirely due to the swelling of dense cotton fibres seems disingenious.
      3) How can you say Ventile has no marketing? They have had a website up since early 2001 at least, with product information (see the screen dump and link further up). To me this is marketing. You could hardly expect a specialist fabric to use Pepsi style marketing, the comparison seems entirely spurious.

      I’m not sure which facts you would like checked further, but I’m up to the challenge if you would like to elucidate.

      Kind regards,

      Nick

      Reply
  • Trackie 11/04/2018 at 07:47

    Wanted to add that I just received the latest Klättermusen Einride and one of the things that sold me was that the DWR treatment they specify is a non-fluorocarbon type. They also don’t overblow the claims regarding water-resistance. They state it as such and claim nowhere it’s “waterproof”. However, I can’t see single Ventile being windproof, either. It appears to be very wind-resistant, allowing a slight amount of air in, which can be beneficial for some. The Einride has no pit zips, though in warmer conditions, I found them unnecessary and the pockets are functional for venting and conceptually so, not be accident or incidentally.

    Reply
    • nick 11/04/2018 at 09:02

      It’s strange how few makers appear to use the non-fluorocarbon “organic” type of Ventile. Or maybe too few are informed of the issues concerning this fabric?

      Reply
      • Trackie 11/04/2018 at 16:58

        The problem is the substitute coating doesn’t last long and reviews often complain about them. Nikwax’s coatings are non-FC (and probably what is used here) and they work well. Klättermusen is at least honest and says even in their Einride promo video on YT that reapplication will be necessary with Cotton Proof.

        C8 DWR is falling out of favour with responsible companies. C6 is replacing it but at the cost of durability. Nikwax is much less durable but very easy to use at home.

        Reply
        • JOSEPH 11/04/2018 at 17:31

          Hi. Yes, ebbelsen (who also make Ventile jackets) but chose to use the alternative Duuton3 branding instead of “Ventile”, do so to get away from the Ventile belief system of, and preoccupation with, waterproofness. They also clearly state that they do not make waterproof garments, but do say that in one of their double layer jackets “you’d be unlucky” to become wet inside in heavy rain. They only see the fabric as an excellent all-round performance fabric which provides much higher degrees of wet weather protection than regular cotton; which is realistic. The Duuton website also provides care advice about replenishing the DWR finish/treatment. I think a lot of confusion, historically, about Ventile being waterproof derives from people confusing whether the fabric is waterproof or whether a well made garment (using that fabric) will keep you dry; which are two different things. As for the non-FC version of the fabric, I believe this is now the only version in production by stotz (but old stocks of the FC version are still running down); so in the near future all manufacturers will be using the FC free version.

          Reply
  • Matt 12/08/2018 at 17:58

    Hi I just thought I’d throw my ha’porth in – I had a Country Innovation shooting style jacket in ventile which I bought cheap from the old now long gone army surplus shop in Keswick (they sold new products alongside surplus). I had the jacket for about 15 years and wore it daily as a raincoat and knocked around in it. I think it may have beaded water off when brand new but that did not last long. My memory is the jacket was always waterproof and the wetting out of the outer surface did stop water getting through. I never reproofed the jacket because it didn’t depend on dwr for impermeability only breathability. Like any shell jacket when wetted out the breathability is impaired until it dries again. Also when wetted ventile becomes quite stiff and the stuff is not lightweight even when dry but I liked my coat. My brother got a Keela branded jacket at the same time that was identical minus the mid height handwarmer pockets of mine.

    Reply

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