Two years in the making, our Planet Earth Shirts are designed to work in all 510 million square kilometres on the surface of earth. Whether you’re in one of the 3 million km2 of cities, 10 million km2 of rainforest, 34 million km2 of polar desert, 35 million km2 of mountains, or 49 million km2 of desert, this shirt feels at home.

We worked with world record-holding adventurer and former elite military operative Aldo Kane to develop the Planet Earth Shirts. Trained in jungle, mountain, desert and polar survival, Aldo’s job is to keep himself and others alive in the world’s most extreme environments. The concept was simple – ‘you’ve been thrown into the back of a truck, you don’t know where on earth you’re going to end up, or what your mission is when you get there, what’s the piece of kit you want to be wearing to help keep you alive?’

Planet Earth Shirt: White edition | Buy at vollebak.com

Designing and building a shirt that can truly thrive in any terrain on earth has to be an exercise in no expense spared craftsmanship. With materials starting their journey in the most cutting edge fabric mills in Switzerland and Italy, and with buttons starting their life inside a fruit, each shirt is then assembled in one of the most advanced factories in the world, in Portugal. Hundreds of separate construction processes, over 35,000 stitches, and more man hours than almost anything else in your wardrobe go into making this shirt a technical masterpiece.

Each shirt incorporates a reinforced anti-mosquito collar for the jungle, 7 concealed air vents that work like in-built air-con for the desert, a hidden passport pocket for hostile environments, 9 gadget loops for the mountains, stitching reinforced with welding, and shatterproof buttons made from the world’s toughest nuts. Water repellent, dirt repellent, bacteria resistant and fast drying, it’s built from advanced high-performance Swiss and Italian materials that stretch and breathe like sports gear.

We knew we needed to start with an exceptional material to build a shirt that can work anywhere on earth, so we built our fabric from scratch in Switzerland with cutting edge fabric mill Schoeller. By blending a robust, heavy-weight cotton with elastane, we created a material that will cool and calm your skin in intense humidity and stretch with you in any direction.

Jungles, dirt, bacteria and salt water will all destroy your clothes, so we treated every square centimetre with Schoeller’s 3XDRY treatment. It turns the outside of the shirt into a water and dirt repellent shield. And it makes the inside of the shirt behave like a sponge – rapidly absorbing and spreading any sweat over a massive surface area so that it can evaporate at high speed to cool you. An antimicrobial treatment inhibits the growth of bacteria on the fabric to kill microorganisms that feed on heat, humidity and moisture.

For the deserts, savannahs and jungles we created a unique system of 7 vents that works together like in built air con. Each vent opens and closes either with body movement or with zip closures. And we’ve built them in the places you’re likely to sweat most – down the centre of your spine, your armpits, down the centre of your chest, and around your waist.

When you open up each vent you’ll find it’s lined internally with a feathersoft, lightweight Italian mesh fabric. The mesh is fast drying and incredibly breathable, which means sweat can escape easily and air can flow into your shirt to cool you rapidly. The three vents at the back are engineered like joints, creating extra flex in the shirt down your spine and across your shoulders. The two front vents hidden either side of the chest pockets are zipped so you can decide when to open them up to air. And there are two slit vents along the hem. Every vent is reinforced for strength.

Planet Earth Shirt: Green edition | Buy at vollebak.com

The fabric and construction of the shirt come into their own in cold terrain too. It’s soft, stretchy and high-wicking enough to be worn as a baselayer and prevent the build up of sweat that can rapidly chill you. Or you can wear it over all your other layers as a field jacket, as it’s engineered with 4-way stretch as well as multiple pockets and attachment points. And the front air vents can be zipped up.

The collar can be worn in 4 different configurations. In jungle mode you’ll want to use all the features of the collar – which means turned up high and fastened tight. It’s a reinforced double collar which means you can fold it right up to meet your hairline at the back and jawline at the front. This keeps the sun and mosquitos off the back of your neck, and helps stop any bugs getting down your shirt. In cold weather the same collar will help keep the critical artery at the back of your neck warm.

We’ve used two strong, lightweight and quiet snap fasteners to secure the collar in place. It creates a completely different shape to a standard collar as it double fastens across your throat to keep mosquitos out. Both poppers are attached with reinforced stitching. We avoided Velcro as it’s too noisy and also unreliable in the most humid climates. We’ve used heavy duty zig zag stitching and reinforced material to strengthen the collar, so it will hold its shape even if drenched.

Planet Earth Shirt: Grey edition | Buy at vollebak.com

Even the way the shirt buttons up has been engineered to withstand freezing fingers, sweating hands and hostile vegetation. Rather than being sewn onto the shirt, the buttons on the front of the shirt have all been threaded onto a heavy duty woven polyester tape that runs the shirt’s entire length. The tape is then stitched onto reinforced panels above and below each button. The construction allows the shirt to flex incredibly and withstand any tearing forces, as each button is free to slide 2 centimetres up and down its section of military tape. All 17 buttons are attached in the same way.

The buttons themselves start life as a corozo nut buried inside the spiky fruit of the Tagua Palm trees found on the coastal mountain ranges of South America. Corozo is phenomenally strong so can be carved with stunning precision. It’s highly resistant to scratches, extreme temperatures and impact, so won’t crack or splinter. Made from 100% organic fibre, each button has a unique grain just like a fingerprint, so no two will ever be the same. Each button is sculpted with a highly polished 30 degree taper towards the edges to make it extremely easy to slip into place.

Every shirt is made with 62 metres of reinforced stitching and welding. We chose stitching as it remains a phenomenally durable way to build clothes when it’s executed with patience and skill. And even if one stitch snags, in every shirt there are over 35,000 more to take the strain. Of course, as this is a Planet Earth Shirt, even our stitching is reinforced. Every seam is twin needle stitched, which means two lines of stitching instead of one to double the strength. And at every critical stress point you’ll find one of the shirt’s 19 matt black bartacks welded on to reduce the chance of failure.

Back at the office the Planet Earth Shirt adapts to life in the city as easily as it thrives in the jungle. The collar can be worn turned down and unfastened just like a regular collar. The cuffs button up with two slip corozo buttons to look like regular cuffs. Both chest pockets will fit your phone. The hidden passport pocket holds your keys. And a fourth bellows pocket on the left arm will keep your credit cards to hand. The front air vents zip up. And when you’ve washed it, you’ll find two internal hanging loops with snap fastenings, so you can hang your shirt up to dry off anything from a jungle creeper to a washing line.

 

Landscape images by Reuben Wu

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