- Can you picture this?
- Origin of a species
- Revealing a western brand’s greatest dilemma
- Feature breacher – an anatomy of adventure, design & practicality.
Can you picture this?
What would a clothing range look like if you could boil down years of collective, Tier 1, special forces operator know-how and inject all that professional hands-on user experience, feedback, knowledge and obsession with reliable, adaptable gear into the heart of the design and manufacturing process?
Well thanks to Thrudark – you can now tell your imagination to take a break. This UK outfit, founded by former British special forces operators, is on a mission to deliver the most cutting-edge clothing options for a range of outdoor pursuits.
Whether these activities include pulling guard duty, exploring, running expeditions, commuting, exercising, or perhaps the one that trips up most living with the random daily UK weather … what to wear for walking the hound? In any case Thrudark have it (and by token, you) covered!
Origin of a species
The Thrudark brand was first created back in 2016 by former SBS operators Louis Tinsley and Anthony “Staz” Stazicker. The brothers in arms, both former Special Boat Service (SBS) operatives with a combined wealth of experience, exceeding 18 years in the Special Forces alone, knew how they could best transition from active service, taking what they had learnt and applying it to a new project.
Belonging to an elite, cream-of-the-crop military outfit meant that both Louis and Staz were often exposed to the best military gear available. But it didn’t stop them being highly critical of where items of clothing and equipment could be adapted, tweaked, or redesigned entirely to provide better usability, reliability and longevity in the field.
In fact, the two servicemen were so good at tailoring their gear with modifications that dramatically improved functionality – they knew that they could satisfy the civilian market’s appetite for high quality outdoor attire – specifically the demand for critical, mission-winning gear that could be applied to a wide range of outdoor uses.
Revealing a western brand’s greatest dilemma
It would take a further two years before Thrudark debuted the first of its garments for sale. The reason for this delay was simple, it gave time for a successful assault on several fronts to be made:
First, it allowed the duo to immerse themselves in creating and perfecting their designs; affording them the opportunity to get to know their enemy as it were, by accruing work experience within a local clothing factory in the north of England, Luis and Staz could better understand the manufacturing parameters that their enterprise would need to operate within.
Secondly, by learning the craft from clothing producers, of how certain fabrics/materials work well in combination over a critical experience-rich two-year period, another USP of their products was revealed:
Their clothing range would not only rely on the strength and progressiveness of their dynamic designs – but would ultimately be determined by delivering a product of exceedingly high quality.
And upon identifying this requirement the big question: Where could they make the Thrudark range of clothing?
Sadly, the research revealed that their home turf (UK) lacked the infrastructure to achieve production, while the often default overseas choices for rival brands like China were too much of a liability for ensuring consistent premium quality.
The final solution came in the form of Italy, the hub for some of the best clothing manufacture in the world and remain within easy geographical reach.
Feature breacher – an anatomy of adventure, design & practicality.
The Dyneema® reflective hexagonal material used in both designs – to negate abrasion damage from hard use, (which incidentally is x15 stronger than steel!) – has all the hallmarks of futurism. Especially when you combine features like these with a more streamlined, athletic silhouette that still allows for full articulation without resisting the wearers body contours and physique (thanks to the four-way stretch weave fabric).
Both models of trouser are even designed to be used while wearing a harness /climber’s rig and, as a result, their pockets have been strategically thought out – allowing for a no-fuss transition from walking/running/hiking to climbing and abseiling.
All these features are designed to work with, rather than against, the user. Trousers that you can abuse outdoors in an active setting and still look good attending a boardroom meeting in – are fast becoming the dream ticket as customers demand that individual clothing staples perform multiple roles instead of limited, single or linear use.
Cut from a different cloth
In addition to the decision to include Dyneema® into the design and build of their trousers – Thrudark seem to collate and curate some of the most interesting and exotic materials into nearly all of their products. Ecorpel® and Dryskin® are patented fabric materials also found in these same trousers for effective moisture wicking/management as well as water repellency.
In fact, you don’t have to hunt through Thrudark’s clothing catalogue for long to find design examples which take advantage of the latest cutting-edge materials.
If materials like Pertex® Quantum and Cotton Ventile® mean nothing to you, then fear not – Thrudark’s website (one that deserves special mention for it’s oily slick presentation and intuitive layout) is at hand and explains, in laymen’s terms – how these materials and processes have been employed to best effect.
Positive Feedback Loop
The brand’s motto of “Endeavour Through Adversity” has been, and continues to be, tested. With current Thrudark brand ambassadors like Jason ‘Foxy’ Fox (former special forces operator who served alongside the brand’s founders Louis and Staz) when not using his TV/media personality to champion important topics such as mental health awareness or sharing an unfiltered account of the real challenges being in the special forces) – he can often be found busily putting the brand’s gear through its paces as result of his documentary film making.
Anyone doubting how tough the gear needs to be for this, should first consider the area of focus for Foxy’s film-making needs – which has seen him return to theatres of war he previously served in as part of UKSF in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as more fluid conflict zones including Latin American cartel gang warfare, which was the story told in Foxy’s brilliant Netflix series, aptly titled: ‘Meet the Drug Lords: Inside the Real Narcos’.
For those curious to find out why Foxy has been making waves beyond his involvement with the reality SAS selection series: SAS: Who Dares Wins; you may find the books he has written to be of particular interest.
The first entitled: Battle Scars sheds light on the highs and lows of military life in the special forces and has been celebrated for its brutally honest account while at the same time combatting the stigmas associated with those left to handle PTSD; of which the author has direct experience of.
His second book: Life Under Fire looks to offer practical steps for fortifying your own mental health and capacity for resilience; the latter of which will likely resonate with a much broader readership given the unfortunate events that have gripped our world for nearly the last two years.
Jason Fox certainly exudes all of the qualities that are deserving of giving him your attention. Aside from his humbleness that comes cross in spades regardless of whether he’s giving interviews, written accounts or making documentaries – his charity fundraisers like rowing from Portugal to Venezuala across the Atlantic and his unsupported kayaking along the Yukon River speak volumes to his determination and drive to excel.
I’d thoroughly recommend following this brave individual. A truly inspirational figure.
While Foxy’s feedback to the brand’s R&D department will cover much of his interaction using their gear to navigate both hostile, natural and man-made conditions – Thrudark have another brave ambassador to cover freezing vertical ascensions of 8km+, of the highest mountains that the globe has to offer, including (but not limited to): Everest, K2 and Annapurna.
That man is Nirmal “Nims” Purja (MBE). The first Ghurka to pass selection into the SBS where he actively served for over a decade. Now his mission of endeavour that he has challenged himself with has been recorded in the Netflix film documentary 14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible.
Nims has broken the world record for 14 successful ascents to the peaks of the world’s highest 8+km high mountains in a dizzying 6 months and 6 day period. Besting the previous record by almost 7 years!!
Thrudark armed Nims with a customised Expedition Parka among other bits and pieces of adventure-apparel. Not only is it heartwarming to see the brotherly love of the special forces extended to former servicemen outside of active military service, it also means that the brand can push its designs and engineering to the extreme seeing what can be achieved when they’re handed over to someone like Nims who possesses nothing short of a lion heart, overcoming what others had until recently, deemed impossible.
It’s also extremely important for Nims to shine a much needed light onto the struggle and challenges of his Nepalese brothers and sherpas who are often the forgotten heroes, living in the shadows cast by the exploits of all ready famous individual mountaineering adventurers, but who without these accomplishments would never be possible. Nims provides an instant equilibrium to this imbalance in a single gruelling campaign of unforgettable bravery and endurance with his record-beating 14 peak ascension.
Moving forward & staying in the light…
Not only does Thrudark seem to be operating from a position of strength, with the brand enjoying an ever-expanding share of the media spotlight – (something which is in many ways the fruits of Louis’ and Staz’s hard graft), but it’s thankfully easy to imagine it blossoming further.
When Thrudark flex their style muscle it certainly comes across as a force multiplier. In fact you really have to hand it to them – their video ads are so polished that they could be easily confused for being trailers showcasing the latest cinematic blockbusters of Paul Greengrass or Christopher Nolan.
Thrudark video production quality is dialled up firmly to 11. It’s no wonder that Tom Hardy has previously lent his vocal talents to narrating one of Thrudark’s early promotional videos.
It’s also great to see a brand really nail the social media dragon. Again brevity, slick presentation skills and useful information all converge here to provide real value for the audience. Facebook ads, usually reserved to scraping the barrel in terms of content quality, regardless of the brand as the driving force for these, are instead refreshingly used by Thrudark to extraordinary effect.
It’s not all super-serious toned stuff either. There are great little humorous quips, like having Foxy play the part of the ‘new guy’ in Thrudark’s orders warehouse. I don’t know why, but it seems even more kudos-deserving when you remember that the guys that bring all of this great content to you didn’t originally hail from a digital design or marketing background. (Something which other brands might want to start taking note of.)
There are a healthy amount of updates to existing lines in the pipe works too. At time of writing, Thrudark have recently released their Oryon range of warm weather clothing.
New products are constantly being showcased – and refreshingly once created – they seem to remain within their active catalogue. The best way to stay ahead of the curve with news and updates to events and products is to register for Thrudark’s newsletter.
A special note about this article & a couple minor concerns.
Well, there’s certainly no point trying to deny it – I’m several years late to the Thrudark party here, but my tardiness will hopefully prevent others from missing out entirely!
I feel it’s as good a place as any to raise several key points:
1) I’ve not had the pleasure of trialling any of Thrudark’s clothing or equipment so far. Their prices do indeed come at a premium, and while it certainly seems that they are delivering on their pledge of high quality and innovative gear – the price of admission may come as a strong deterrent for those new to the brand from checking out their wares.
Personally, I’d like to see a budget-friendly line of Thrudark clothing come out that perhaps a sort of ‘Thrudark Basics’ range? That has a scaled-back number of features found in their premium line-up. Perhaps a good way for new potential customers to lean into the brand and discover working examples before making such a large financial investment
Of course, if I do decide to get my mitts on some Thrudark merchandise you can expect an honest appraisal of these.
Certainly my favourite backpack started the same way, stumbling on a premium US brand I had discovered in much the same way, having become something of a pseudo rucksack aficionado by that time with lots of brands bought and tested until ‘that’ discovery led me to never look back again. Anyone wanting to read the article that led me to that solution can do so here.
2) Thrudark did not approach or commission me to write about them – in fact this is where I must admit to a negative experience where over 2 years of contacting them I had virtually zero response. (and no, I wasn’t asking for free gear – something which makes me cringe when I see content online from bloggers who do so)
This was especially surprising as I have contacted brands that are on the other side of the world, where English was not their first language and in an entirely different time-zone and yet they have responded – often within 24-48 hours.
I’m not bitter about this experience, I understand the woes of starting a business – but it does raise a red flag for me & makes me question the company’s stance and commitment to their customer-base.
Also – while I’m genuinely impressed with ThruDark’s ever expanding range of premium clothing – now including the areas of personal training and martial arts attire – the pricing for some of their merchandise such as a coffee mug made in China – hand wash only: 30GBP ($36 USD) or their baseball cap 50GBP ($60 USD) seems disingenuous to those loyal customers who would presumably wish to purchase these sorts of accessories solely as a means to support and champion the brand.
It may also cheapen the quality of their premium clothing when consumers see their high prices for the less remarkable usual merchandise that virtually every clothing brand produces these days.
A rare thing
There are not a huge amount of veteran businesses outside of the US and even stateside, given the size and population, the ones that do exist and do well are still sadly low in numbers.
So to see a UK brand doing well is indeed a good thing, for them but also for the industry at large.
The next couple of years will be interesting to see how Thrudark perform and the identity they manage to carve out for themselves moving forward.
They are definitely a brand worth checking out for anyone interested in outdoor pursuits.
It’d be great to hear from any of you who have experience using Thrudark clothing and what you think about outdoor/military brands in general. Feel free to leave your comments below.