Friday, March 26, 2010

Rain on My Parade

I recently remarked to my parents how rarely do fashion stores seem to stock waterproof jackets/coats. Our local Warehouse certainly isn't chuffing down the rain track. Rural supplies stores such as Farmlands and RD1 have gear for seriously wet conditions, priced from NZ$180 to $370, but I hoped for a better price and something less workman-like.

I wanted a smart jacket of in-between warmth (not summer-light but not winter wool) that's primarly designed to keep its wearer dry in the rain. Would I have to wait for a trip to the city...and then where would I look for such a garment?

One of the companies who have added their personalised label to the hem of the KiwiStuff jacket.

Dad suggested, "Maybe you need something like what we found in Christchurch last year."

Mum said, "Try on my jacket."

It was too big for me, but I was stunned by the ample supply of pockets (2 inside, 4 outside) and delighted by its light but keep-me-dry feel. Mum bought hers at Christchurch Airport while waiting for a delayed flight. Dad bought his a month or so later at Christchurch's Antarctic Centre. I googled the name on the tag and found KiwiStuff.co.nz. Clicking KiwiStuff's purchase button takes you to NZShopOnline.com, a webshop that offers 5 currencies and a pile of other brand products which I haven't yet explored.

Email communication with the designer and online retailer produced a specific size measurement, enabling me to confidently purchase the garment without trying it on (if you want a try-on option, email KiwiStuff for a list of retail stores). I've recommended that they add sizing details to their websites, along with image enlargement options (note: click on any BN post illustration to view close-up details). These two websites aren't yet geared for complete shopping ease, but their service is excellent and I have no hesitation in recommending them.

One of the Kiwistuff labels

Kiwis, don't be put off by pricing differentiation between the designer and online retailer. KiwiStuff said that retailers place their own price on garments. NZShopOnline's lower NZ prices are because they don't include GST. Nevertheless, by the time GST and postage (NZ$7) were added, at NZ$91.90 my jacket was still $19.60 cheaper than KiwiStuff's advertised price.

The Astra Tex fabric is 3000mm waterproof, 3000 breathable, fully seam-sealed. A microporous polyurtethane coating prevents the smallest raindrops from penetrating, yet allows perspiration vapor to escape.

Reflective strip on breast pocket. Designer zipper pull tab.

The ladies rain jacket style 191 is available in 5 colours. I chose moss green. When the package arrived (with incredible promptness), my parents hovered near as I opened it.

Dad saw the contents and looked disappointed. "It's not blue like ours," he said with a twinkle.

I grinned. "I didn't want to look like Baby Bear."

Features:
  • Removable sleeves and hood. Just unzip.
  • Velcro-tab cuffs. Drawcord at hem.
  • Enough pockets to satisfy this journalist -- space for camera, cellphone, notebook and pencil, a light scarf, and still room to spare.
  • Left-handers, expect a righthand workout, as 5 of the 6 pockets are set on the left side.
Two years ago I sampled Ezibuy's Isobar outdoor/active wear and found the fit wide and short (in short, bad fit) and the quality overpriced. My featured rain jacket is only one of the styles available from Kiwistuff. If their options aren't quite what you're looking for, I suggest you browse the wide range at www.OutbackTrading.com.

I anticipate liking my KiwiStuff rain jacket very much for its adaptability. In New Zealand the wind chill factor is potentially dangerous, so having a windbreaker handy can be vital for one's safety.

On an outing to a nearby town, I dressed for the temperature fluctuations that I've come to expect as normal, with a double-layer t-shirt and delicate scarf topped by my KiwiStuff jacket. When I left home, the outside temperature had dropped to 10 degrees Celcius (50F). When I came home, the warmth of the sun was sufficient to want short sleeves (provided one was out of the wind). To my delight, that jacket was all I needed to keep me comfortable as I was blown about the chilly streets of Woodville.

I can't report on the jacket's water-shedding qualities yet, but I can tell you it has the best hood I've ever worn, shaped to protect without obscuring your view, particularly important if you wear spectacles, and with easy-to-use drawcords -- no more ties getting tangled in cold/wet hands. I find myself eager to be out in the next downpour!

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