A Schizophrenic Body Wear System from Rohan
The windshirt underpinned the very early lightweight, windproof upper body clothing system that Rohan pioneered. The very first windshirt Rohan Hyde had many reincarnations over its short life 1980 -1984.
A windshirt was a very simple concept. Put a windproof shell over what is now referred to as your base layer, and you will achieve a very high degree of protection and warmth that far outstrips the weight of the fabric, assuming the fabric is windproof and breathable. The use of Airlight fabric to actually make a shirt and do exactly that was a totally new concept in the late 1970’s. The first windshirt, Rohan Mark 1 Hyde came to the market in 1980. Developed as part of a new, unique garment system to provide the maximum protection and comfort for minimal weight, quick drying and easy to wear. It came to the market with Jekyll. If you were going to wear the Hyde you had to have something compatible to put under it. It’s hard to talk about the Hyde without reference to the Jekyll, the under Hyde garment. We will cover Jekyll story in a future post on Rohantime. The next time you are in Keswick pop into Rohan Keswick there is a fine example of Mark 1 Hyde on display. It is part of their unique Rohan Originals Collection.
Extracts from a 1980 Rohan newsletter & photo of John Cleare wearing a Mark 1 Hyde and Mark 1 Rohan Bags. Fording Su-Baschi River American MUZTAGH ATA SKI EXPEDITION 1982. Expedition leader John Cleare fords the glacial Su-baschi River below ‘Grasslands Camp’ at 3,800m. beside the ancient Silk Road, Xinjiang, Western China. ©John.Cleare/MOUNTAIN.CAMERA
The Mark II Rohan Windshirt soon followed. It was an open up the front versions. Poppers not zipped. The Airlight fabric had become ripstop Airlight. The garment was much sleeker. By 1983 the garment had changed name to the Action Jacket & the Hyde was lost forever. Hyde’s spirit was reborn in the Moving On – that’s another story. Hyde Mark II was the start of a new look in outdoor clothing. A much sleeker, cleaner profile than the market was used to. The combined outfit of Bags and Mark 11 Hyde moved the Rohan range nearer to easy care outdoor and travel clothing.
The decision to drop the Hyde was because of problems with the availability of the Jekyll fabric, Dunova. You couldn’t have a Hyde without a Jekyll, so both disappeared.
Had both Jekyll & Hyde remained in production and enjoyed similar longevity to Bags would we all be wearing much sleeker garments today?
Sarah Howcroft Co-founder Rohan Clothing