Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Review: Georgia in Dublin Takes to the Countryside

Georgia in Dublin Rainwear
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.

Georgia in Dublin RainWrap
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.

Georgia in Dublin RainWrap
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.

Georgia in Dublin RainWrap
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.

Georgia in Dublin RainWrap
It attaches in the back, via easy to use velcro closures,

Georgia in Dublin RainWrap
with a buckle strap that can be tightened for extra security.

Georgia in Dublin RainWrap
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.

Georgia in Dublin RainWrap
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.

Georgia in Dublin Bronte Jacket
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.

Georgia in Dublin Bronte Jacket
The same toggles close the exterior front placket over the black zipper closure underneath.

Georgia in Dublin Bronte Jacket
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.

Georgia in Dublin Bronte Jacket
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.

Georgia in Dublin Bronte Jacket
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...

25 comments:

  1. I must admit I wondered immediately if the rainwrap was envisioned as a unisex garment. Not sure I'd wear one, but the potential functionality of it is compelling.

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    1. I suspect the current design might sit awkwardly on a man. The fabric is curved around the hip area in a way that seems women-specific. But I will ask a suitably sized male friend to try it and report back!

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    2. And to further the question: I see that you were on a "ladies" frame for your test ride. I wonder how these would interact with a "gents" top tube. Seems like it might be a little gangly.

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    3. After your and another's comment, I realise I have left this out of the review entirely. See my reply at 5:24 below, and I will insert a more elaborate version into the post itself.

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  2. Thanks for the review, these look great! The price of the rain skirt is reasonable, but the jacket is way out of my budget. Any idea why the huge difference in prices?

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    1. The reason that immediately comes to mind, is that the jacket is much more elaborate and complicated. Zippers, toggles, buttons, tailoring, multiple panels, sleeves, hood, etc. - whereas the wrap is basically 1 piece of fabric, cleverly cut, with some velcro and a buckle.

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  3. Seems like the wrap would be useful for not only your legs while riding, but also as a ground cover if you need to stop (for a break, or a mechanical issue) and the ground is wet. Also, it seems like it would be able to be rolled/folded to a fairly manageable size to be tucked away in your saddlebag.
    Simple and smart.


    Wolf.

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    1. In the product videos on their website, they recommend using it as a picnic blanket. Unfortunately it is too cold here for that!

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    2. This is what came to my mind as well.

      The wrap is similar to the light weight nylon kilts some ultra light backpackers use. Some of these garments in turn are intended for use as a tent drop or even emergency shelter.

      Never occurred to me these garments could cross over to bicycles. Pretty clever.

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  4. Amazing — for once we were ahead of Lovely Bicycle … and stylish! I bought Cathryn a Georgia in Dublin 'Dublette' jacket, RainWrap skirt and Leggits leggings as a 44th wedding anniversary present. She's delighted with them, for all the reasons you gave.

    "But I didn't get you anything!" she protested. "Yes you did," I assured her, "I get you look at you wearing them." (You don't survive 44 years of marriage without learning a thing or two along the way.) But I have noted that despite her silver-haired maturity she still turns heads in this outfit … and not just her husband's.

    You're right, Georgia in Dublin were delightful to deal with via the internet, and my order arrived in Canada with startling speed. Now if they'd just come up with a jacket as quirkily elegant for gents … (When she wears the outfit on our tandem bike I feel as though I've been reduced from Captain of the Team to Her Ladyship's chauffeur.)

    ~ David Miller

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  5. Would have been nice to see a couple photos of you riding with the rain gear. Much more helpful than getting a mood going.

    Did you test the wrap on a step through bike only or did you also use it on a bike with a top tube? Do you think this item is directed to the more fashion conscience riders as opposed to those who just need good rain protection? Is it easily stored in panniers when not needed?

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    1. Let me see. I think I did take photos cycling, but didn't include them; I'll dig them up.

      I do think this brand is directed to fashion conscious riders. If you look at their website and catalogue, there is a runway vibe to the way they portray the products, and care is obviously taken to make the garments look flattering and artsy, not just utilitarian. None of that, however, detracts from their utilitarian value. The jacket protects from the rain thoroughly, and is a clever design for those who ride with a backpack which they want to keep dry. And the wrap is altogether unique on the market. So unless one's aesthetic is specifically anti-fashionable/artsy (which is fine as well), there is no reason not to consider this stuff.

      Collapsibility is decent. Definitely will fit into a pannier, even if it is already close to full. But not in a pocket.

      I only wore these on a bike with a top tube once (I normally ride only step-throughs for transportation). The jacket was fine, the reach was accommodating even with drop bars. The wrap opens up in the back to accommodate swinging a leg over a top tube, and there is absolutely no reason not to wear it on a diamond frame bike. But purely visually it would take me some time to get used to; it just "looks wrong" to me on a diamond frame to glance down and see my legs covered up by a swathe of cloth!

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    2. Yes, my experience with a rain cape fits with your reaction. It's just weird to not be able to see your legs (or your chainrings) while pedaling.

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  6. I could have used the man's version yesterday. I did a short ride in the rain, my upper body was fine under my rain coat, but my shorts were wet on the front from the rain flowing down off of the coat. Ugh! My thinking at the time was to look into a rain cape. So I wonder, how did this set up compare to a rain cape?

    Thanks,
    JohnS

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    1. I found it less disorienting and tangly than a rain cape. And also providing better coverage for my legs.

      That said, I love rain capes in theory, the idea of lovely rain capes. But I can't wear them!

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  7. Excellent timing! I've been looking for a rain jacket and wanted something functional but feminine. This may be the ticket! The Dublette, in particular, looks quite nice to me.

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  8. I am curious if it feels like a typical rain jacket - meaning, after riding a couple of miles, do you feel as though you've been put away moist in an air-tight container? It seems difficult to find rain/wet gear that both functions well to keep the rider dry and is still somewhat breathable.

    This garment is far more fashion-forward than I will ever be, but if it works well, it could still be something to consider... or perhaps you have other brands that you believe work better for the more utilitarian cyclist?

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    1. It is more breathable than a typical rain jacket. However, I would say that it is meant for colder weather. So I would not recommend wearing it in the summer in a country where there's actual, proper summer. 65degF and below you should be fine though.

      For the cyclist after a more utilitarian look, I would go for the Portland USA-made ShowersPass, no question.

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  9. Perhaps you were surprised by the flattering nature of the garments' fit, but your attentive readers were not. Pulling off a stylish and fashionable look on a bicycle is no minor task (even on the stylish and fashionable bicycles that you seem to favor!). The way you combine colors and fabrics and textures with your obvious gifts at photography are quite possibly my favorite part of the frequent visits I make here. You should probably be spending more time in front of the camera rather than behind it, if only because there are so few "realistic" female models who can approximate the visual impact that you seem to have mastered.

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  10. It's a skirt...it's a tent...it's a Pauncho!

    Act now, and we'll throw in, absolutely free...another Pauncho!

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  11. This seems like a joke. Is it? As a lifelong cyclist I'm always in search of good rainwear for those downpour or drizzly days, whether walking or biking the kids to school, transporting myself to and from work, or grocery store, or gatherings. No matter, I need it to be simple and light and workable, but fashionable?! No. Your photos and poses suggest fashion more than function. Do the makers of this product commute via bike?

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    1. Aesthetics are a matter of taste. As long as an article of clothing is functional (which these are, in all the ways I have described), it being fashionable, or arty, or whatever you want to call it, is not really a drawback in my book. Enjoy whatever style appeals to you.

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  12. We all see things differently, which is a good thing; I personally can't see how either of these items could be considered 'fashionable', particularly the wrap - if they are practical, that is a another matter. Should I be compelled to cycle while it is raining I would use a waterproof jacket, such as the Rain Bird Stowaway Jacket, http://www.rainbirdclothing.com.au/index.html?Action=Commerce2.Product&ID=29514539, which looks decent on and off the bike, is lightweight and fits easily in a small saddlebag - if I really wanted full coverage I could opt for waterproof overpants rather than an expanse of material. The wrap reminds me of the aprons used by those doing rather messy jobs - but certainly would function as a groundsheet or maybe to throw over your bike if you need to leave it exposed to the rain for some reason and the jacket looks fussy and awkward. Fortunately there are a great variety of items out there to suit everyone's personal preferences and requirements.

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  13. Very helpful review. Although you mentioned that you don't like maxi skirts, I wondered whether the wrap would keep a billowing skirt from trailing in the wheels or if it's quite open at the back? I'd love it if it doubled as a skirt guard in the Winter.

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