Shirley Institute, Manchester
Shirley Institute, Manchester

Ventile® was developed in the late 1930s by the British Cotton Industry Research Association, at the Shirley Institute in Manchester.  The fabric was first utilised in the protection of RAF Coastal Command Pilots on convoy duty during WWII.  Ventile flying suits alleviated the risk of exposure, drastically improving the survival rate amongst aircrew. Ventile fabrics for RAF clothing went into mass production in 1943 and the military association still remains today.

Ventile® - The fabric of the few
Ventile® - The fabric of the few
Wilfrid Noyce Ventile Everest First Ascent 1953
Wilfrid Noyce 1953 © Royal Geographical Society (IBG)

After the war, the fabric became a firm favourite with outdoor enthusiasts due to the weatherproofing properties of the fabric.  The dense weave of Ventile, combined with the swelling propensities of the fibres when wet, provide first class protection from the elements.  This natural material offers a high quality standard of comfort, look and feel.  Breathable when dry, wind-proof, durable and quiet when worn.


Ventile became the material of choice for mountaineers during the 1950s and 60s.  It is recorded to be an integral part of the kit used by the first British mountaineering expedition to conquer Mount Everest in 1953.

Ventile smock on Everest 1963
Ventile smock on Everest 1963

 

Ventile single-layered smocks were also worn by the very first U.S. mountaineers to scale the summit of Mount Everest in 1963. 


One team member, Jim Whittaker, stated that Ventile is, “Indeed, an amazing fibre!".