Ben O’Toole is Managing Director of The Redback Company. He’s a British Army Veteran, who has also worked in the private security and crisis management sector. In addition to this impressive vocational portfolio, Ben is an Explorer Scout Leader.
I reviewed The Redback Company’s impressive Timmy Hat in November 2018 and it has become a firm favourite of mine. I’m not the only one to hold this view. Everyone I know who has bought a Timmy Hat has been blown away by it.
This week I received a Cierzo Shirt for review – with no strings attached. Strings are a red line for me, so I was glad to learn that The Redback Company is so confident in its products that I can write what the hell I like. Anything less and I don’t accept the product.
That said I really wasn’t expecting it, so it was a nice surprise and greatly appreciated. I’ll be assessing it in due course, but until then this article offers some background.
The Cierzo Shirt is The Redback Company’s signature product. It’s a simple and practical garment which is designed to do a job. Its namesake is a strong, dry and usually cold wind – similar to the terms Mistral and Bora.
Ben has sublimated a lifetime’s experience and passion for the outdoors into this product, so I knew there was a story to tell…
Ben – welcome to the blog and thanks for taking time out to explain the Cierzo’s story!
Tell me about the item’s history.
Cierzo Shirts have a nerdily interesting history. The first mention of them we have found was as garments made by SAS Troopers from their parachutes after they had dropped into France prior to D-Day.
They were a UKSF and Airborne Forces staple all throughout the BCE (Before Crye Existed) era, falling out of fashion during the GWOT. During the BCE days they were known as Zoot Suits and were all home-made, usually from artillery illumination parachutes because they weren’t re-usable like jump and cargo parachutes.
We resurrected them and bought them up to date with modern fabric, a few design tweaks and modern construction techniques. The original pattern we updated was made from a Zoot Suit I have that I’ve had for about 20 years.
What’s the Cierzo’s purpose?
The garment is meant to be used as a windproof outer layer or as an intermediate layer. They can even be worn under a damp outer layer while it dries out. Cierzo Shirts punch well above their weight in terms of the warmth they offer, especially in windy conditions and mountainous terrain.
Where are the shirts made?
Our Cierzo Shirts are manufactured in the UK by the company responsible for procuring silk for parachutes during WW2, which is a rather neat connection we think!
Tell me about the colourways.
So, when we launched at the end of 2018 we had two colourways. A camo and a solid colour. Multicam and Khaki. We made an effort to get as much feedback as we could, which is why we also altered the pattern slightly and created the Long size. The feedback was that people would prefer something darker in the solid colour, hence why we have the Earth-Tone.
We went with the night camo for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s cool. It’s camo without screaming wannabe operator. It transcends tactical and outdoor gear; and also slips into fashion. Just look at Adidas’ latest range in duckhunter…
Secondly, when we did the Timmy Hats in that camo they flew out the door as soon as we released them. We also had significant pre-sales. To add to that, a friend of the brand asked us to make him up a Cierzo out of some genuine issue Night Camo fabric he’d acquired from somewhere or other. When we put a picture up on our social media we got bombed with requests for Cierzos in night camo.
We do a multi-terrain camo which is multicamish… It’s listed in the website under the “Military” tab. We’ve separated it out for marketing reasons. Outdoor retailers can be put off by anything too “military” in a product line. That’s why SnugPak et al list their camo stuff separately. Our ultimate goal is to sell through selected retailers rather than just our own online sales.
We deliberately don’t use genuine multicam. Frankly it is just too expensive to be economical, and the fabric we use would have to be a special order with a frighteningly big minimum order quantity. Given that there a large variety of multi-terrain patterns around the world we used a commercial pattern that will fit with the vast majority of them. The Cierzo not is intended as a combat outer layer, so there is no real gain to be had from using multicam other than as a marketing piece.
I have always felt that a lot of what is on offer is grossly over priced given the low production cost, especially with regards to the volume the big brands are manufacturing. I would rather offer the customer something of high quality at a fair price. Even with UK manufacture.
Many thanks Ben!