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Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Review: Georgia in Dublin Takes to the Countryside
Let me tell you, it is much easier to test rain gear than it is to photograph it. To accomplish the former, you simply wear the stuff when it rains - a circumstance not difficult to come by in Ireland. To accomplish the latter, you have to get the weather conditions just so. In the actual pouring rain, it is quite difficult to take photos - both for the camera and for the model. But if the weather is good, the clothing looks out of context. The ideal condition would be something like an overcast day, just after a storm, puddles on the ground still glistening. This way, rain is implied, while the model - and camera lens - are spared. Alas the weather lately has been withholding such conditions - punctuating the lashing downpours with bursts of low, piercing sunshine, and not much in between. On a day that offered up both of these extremes simultaneously, I took to a patch of woods for shelter, resulting in some surprisingly atmospheric shots that made my outfit look even less like rainwear and even more like a costume from a Scandinavian film set, than it did already.
The notion of Irish Design is big right now. Textile design, industrial design, interior design - a unique visual language is emerging from Irish makers on a variety of fronts. The small rainwear company Georgia in Dublin is part of that movement. And its clothing, which to date includes women's lines for everyday cycling and for equestrian wear, is distinctly "designery" in appearance. The look is hard to describe. Edwardian meets edgy? Scandinavian meets British? Something like that. It is also full of contrasts and contradictions. Contours are severe and soft. Fabric tapers and billows. Details are simple and elaborate. Aesthetically, it could have all gone horribly wrong - except that somehow it didn't. The clothing is easy to wear and surprisingly flattering - not only by rainwear standards. And the price? If not exactly in the budget category, it is on par with that of larger-volume manufacturers whose offerings we see in retail stores.
Cycling through the rain-soaked Ulster countryside, I tested two popular items from Georgia in Dublin: the RainWrap and the Bronte Rain Jacket.
Priced at 55 Euro (roughly USD 60 and GBP 40) the Georgia in Dublin Rainwrap is exactly what its name suggests: a wrap, to be worn in the rain. More specifically, it is a waterproof wrap-around skirt that is meant to be worn over one's clothing (skirt or trousers, doesn't matter) to keep the bottom half of the body dry - be it while pedaling or walking.
Shown here in red, the Wrap is also available in army-green, black and navy. The fabric is soft, matte and noiseless, not slippery or rustly. It is a breathable and waterproof poly material welded seams, that feels like brushed cotton to the touch.
It attaches in the back, via easy to use velcro closures,
with a buckle strap that can be tightened for extra security.
Admittedly, it took me a bit to warm to this garment - mainly because I was paranoid about getting tangled in it. I am generally not a fan of anything long and flowing on the bike. There are no maxi skirts in my wardrobe. And rain capes terrify me. Yet, once I gave the Rainwrap a chance, I began to wonder how I had managed to live without it for 6 years. Put simply, it does what it promises - keeping my legs dry on 7-12 mile commutes in the rain. It is also pretty compact around the legs - opening in the back just wide enough to turn the pedals, but not so wide as to flare out or billow toward the spokes or drivetrain.
The hem can be further secured with the optional "garter" accessory - though I have found that even without it, the length covers me sufficiently and does not get tangled in my bike.
Designed to complement the Rainwrap, the Georgia in Dublin Bronte jacket is priced at 170 Euro (roughly USD 185, or GBP 125), and is available in the Airfare Blue (shown), Red, Yellow, Black, or Stone. Made of the same soft, rustle-free waterproof fabric as the Rainwrap, the Bronte Rain Jacket is almost parachute-like in its airy billowiness. Expandable in the rear to fit bulky layers or, in m experience, a modestly sized backpack underneath (the Dublette model is designed specifically to accommodate backpacks and will fit larger ones), it tapers by means of clever toggle closures made of inner tubes.
The same toggles close the exterior front placket over the black zipper closure underneath.
Slim, elasticised and tapered through the lower torso and arms, the jacket expands into puffy 3/4 sleeves and bodice, almost creating the appearance as if a rain cape is worn over a sleek black top.
Details include welded seams, a hide-away hood compartment, reflective strips, deep pockets, underarm vents, mesh inner lining with internal pocket, and more. The oversized hood will fit over any head-covering one desiresto wear on the bike, while the extra large visor and super-tall (without being tight) collar will keep you cozy in any weather. And I should note that the pastel blue colour - which I had not expected to be hi-viz - is surprisingly stand-outish in bleak weather, on shadowy roads, and at dusk.
Wearing the Bronte Jacket on the bike in the rain I felt protected from the elements to the point of being cocooned. And when paired with the Rainwrap, the outfit (termed "the full Bronte" by the manufacturer) had me arriving at my destinations drier than any other combination of rain accessories I have worn so far.
Aside from the items I have tested, Georgia in Dublin offers a number of other jackets and accessories - most popular among these probably being the Leggits waterproof overshoes. I did not test those, as all of my shoes and boots are already waterproof. But they seem like a cool and useful accessory for those who are not quite as practical with their footwear.
The Georgia in Dublin clothing range is designed in Dublin by a mother and daughter team, with most items manufactured in Poland. International shipping is available, and the company is pretty interactive if you have questions about their products. Overall I am impressed with the items I've tried. They are useful, easy to wear, creative, and aesthetically unusual. For myself, I will most likely buy the Rainwrap for personal use and return the Bronte Jacket. It's a cool jacket, but I already have others that do the job. The Rainwrap, on the other hand, is unlike anything else in my wardrobe and I find it much too useful this rainy season to give back!
With thanks to Georgia in Dublin for the opportunity to try their line of cycling rainwear, I wish them the best of luck with future product development. Perhaps a men's line is in the works? The Rainwrap would be lovely to see in a nice kilt-like style...