Ernest Shackleton. Now that is a name indeed. You can sort of imagine a child with a name like that going one of two ways, either an antarctic explorer of heroic nature, or a Wallace (as in “… & Gromit“). In this case though we know Shackleton turned out the heroic type, with his epic cross-Antarctic trip turning into an adventure of epic proportions. In fact, unless you are familiar with the story, you might want to spend a little time on Youtube (there are many clips).
Today though the Shackleton legacy lives on by way of a small British company, together with the explorers granddaughter Alexandra. The historic aspects being both an inspiration and a great background narrative to their endeavour, they started in the most unlikely of ways by manufacturing a banjo (if you’ve read up on Shackleton you will know why) and branching into knitwear, footwear, clothing and craft beer. You can tell there is a genuine enthusiasm for everything the company is getting involved in.
A main point in what Shackleton Company are about is the making of their products in Britain, supporting traditional and small scale British craftsmen. The products adhere to this ambition to an almost total extent, with the exceptions being t-shirts, enamel mugs and a few banjo parts. Knitwear from Leicester, footwear from Northampton, leather goods from Herefordshire, pewter hips flasks from Sheffield and so forth. And we mustn’t forget the handmade banjos, made at the HQ in Norwich.
I liked the look of their Shackleton replica sweater and ordered one in the natural undyed brown fleck nepp wool. To sum up in few words: It’s as good as they describe it. The natural brown fleck wool is superb, and the random colouring of it makes a nice change from the usual uniform colour sweaters. The knitting is superb and the whole sweater is in one piece, seamless. This makes for a much more proper sweater than many makers will provide.
I also ordered one of the soft-wash wool scarves in the same natural brown. Again a very nicely made piece and I can highly recommend one if you’re looking for a properly made scarf in a coarser knit. Very warm, a decent length and the soft wash has actually made it a lot less itchy than you might fear.
If I dare use the dreaded c-word, Shackleton are busy curating a quite excellent selection of goods, mainly based around historic Shackleton items. The honest ruggedness of what their up to is apparent in items such as the Thomas Crean beanie. Heck, it takes a real chap to live up to that photo, right?
I do like the look of their Shackleton boss boots as well. Based on the polar boots designed by Ernest Shackleton himself, these are made by Cheaney & Sons. Not cheap as such, but properly made boots in quality leather and lined in shearling, handmade in Britain. Definitely boss.
Oh my, I just noticed this. A quilt of Harris tweed and corduroy. They saw me coming! Please, roll me up in this and leave me alone to luxuriate.
Shackleton Company aren’t the first company to see the attraction in using Great British Heroes as a backdrop or basis for their business, Nigel Cabourn has been mining this rich seam for years now. I like it though. There is a strong story here and the products coming out of Shackleton Company are imaginative, quality, no-nonsense and actually reasonably priced. I can appreciate that.