Brand stories… Shackleton

We take a deep dive into the world of Shackleton and find out what's going on in the product 'engine' room...

By Diane Richardson, Playtime Editor (


In short, because he is a legend of polar exploration; a man who believed in qualities of optimism, courage, idealism and patience. He was also an incredible leader, willing to sacrifice fame and success for the well-being of his crew. His legacy has stood the test of time and offers a hugely credible foundation on which to launch a modern performance-wear brand of equal values.

The responsibility of using this name and story equates to a standard we must meet. And we don’t accept anything less than that standard: apparel that can out-perform anything else in its class, field-tested in the harshest places on earth, inspired by a man who pushed the boundaries of exploration and always sought the best clothing and gear for his crew.


Britain has a history rooted in exploration and discovery. Britain also has roots in traditional style and design, but the courage to push the boundaries. This means the best in both worlds: a strong heritage to lean on, but the ability to bend the rules; english craftsmanship, redefined, without ever compromising on quality. Being based in Britain, and being able to proudly say that all our apparel is designed in Britain, is a vital part to our ethos. 

Saying that, while all our product is designed in Britain, we do look at manufacturing opportunities around the world to make use of the most cutting-edge materials available. Some of our current knitwear pieces, for example, are designed in Italy. 

On the theme of Britishness, it’s great to have been recognised as an exciting British brand of the future, as Shackleton was recently unveiled as a Walpole 2020 Brand of Tomorrow. 


There’s no point in designing a jacket that looks great but performs poorly – there are enough of them on the market already. Our outerwear looks great, it’s comfortable, but it’s unapologetically function-led – this can only be achieved by working with experts and by putting the pieces through their paces before production. A jacket that is designed to be worn in sub-zero temperatures cannot be conceived in the studio alone. In the last two years we’ve tested gear in Norway, Iceland and Antarctica – just last week we were in Finse with some of the upcoming range, field-testing the gear in temperatures down to -22ºC.

In 2019, polar explorer Louis Rudd MBE joined the Shackleton team, giving us an intimate insight into the most extreme environments on earth.

Working with the right people is crucial. In 2019, polar explorer Louis Rudd MBE joined the Shackleton team, giving us an intimate insight into the most extreme environments on earth. We also joined forces with camera powerhouse Leica last year to create the world’s first extreme weather photographer’s jacket, working closely with renowned expedition photographer Martin Hartley.

The Frank Hurley has 17 bespoke features – a jacket designed for photographers by photographers.

Every detail is carefully considered: where pockets sit to improve blood circulation; how to make access easy with large gloves on; etc.


Each piece stands out in its own right, developed for a specific purpose, but the Endurance Parka is our signature design. This parka is already in its fourth generation and has always been made to a performance standard rather than a price point. It’s the real deal, chosen by experts, trusted by explorers. Each year it is upgraded to be the very best parka in its class, using the newest technologies and materials that make it extremely efficient and comfortable. It’s also impossibly light as we are one of the few brands in the world who use 100% pure goose down rather than a feather mix. The latest iteration features a synthetic fur ruff as in 2018 we made the decision to stop using real fur – this is a decision we are committed to.

While we design the Endurance to stand up to extreme weather, we appreciate that many people will want to wear their parka to work or on a weekend in less extreme conditions – the functionality and comfort of this jacket makes that clear. In the 20/21 Collection, you’ll see a whole new range of bolder colours joining the line up too.


Shackleton’s gravestone in Grytviken Cemetery in South Georgia bears a nine-pointed star, roughly carved into local granite. During Sir Ernest’s last night on earth, he wrote in his diary: ‘In the darkening twilight, I saw a lone star hover, gem-like above the bay.’ It was this last vision and his superstitious attachment to the number nine that led his friends and shipmates to conceive the iconic shape that we have chosen to symbolise our mission.


Recent advances within textiles, yarns and recycled materials have allowed us to explore new realms of innovation that, even a year ago (let alone a century), were out of the question. Shackleton is consistently among the first pioneering the use of innovative materials within performance-wear – this can be seen in our recent range with graphene, the strongest, lightest, most conductive material every discovered by scientists. 

In addition to performance innovation, sustainability is of growing importance. Aside from the obvious – that we must be held responsible for the impact our production has on the planet’s health – there are fantastic natural properties that can be enhanced from sustainably-sourced fibres. We are at a very exciting junction, able to achieve the level of performance we pride ourselves on as a company in a more sustainable way. This is, undoubtedly, our future.

Saying that, we still develop pieces directly inspired by the pieces worn by Shackleton and his crew – particularly in our knitwear. Our Nimrod for example, is inspired by the exact sweater worn by Ernest Shackleton during the 1907 Nimrod Expedition, only with a more refined finish. It is made in Italy and comprises 30% cashmere and 70% lambswool, making it luxuriously soft, practical and durable. Our future is very exciting, but with a foundation built on the greatest explorer of all time, we always keep an eye on the past.

Stay informed with the adventures of Shackleton and shop the brand HERE

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