Rupert Holmes reports on 878 clothing new company that are looking to revolutionise the sailing clothing industry and are bringing new technology to the market

Most innovation is an iterative process of continued small improvements in product design or materials technology. However, occasionally a step-change in innovation is possible that produces radically different products. This is the route taken by a Hungarian marine clothing start up, called 878, which uses graphene in its fabric.

Graphene is a single atom-thick layer of carbon arranged in a hexagonal lattice. Key benefits include extreme strength and durability. This material also has ideal thermal properties for foul-weather gear, expelling body heat in warm weather, but preserving it in colder conditions when it’s distributed evenly around the body.

Since Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov developed an easy production method at the University of Manchester, for which they won a Nobel Prize in 2010, graphene has therefore been hailed as a wonder material in the textile world.

878’s foul weather gear is made of a three-layer material that incorporates a graphene membrane and an additional Dyneema/Cordura protective layer in high-wear areas. It’s extremely light, with a complete suit weighing well under 2kg.

Despite the light weight it’s strong, doesn’t require a DWR (durable water repellent) coating, and predicted lifespan is measured in decades rather than years.

In addition, graphene based inks can be used with inkjet printers to create the connectivity that’s needed for wearable tech to be seamlessly incorporated into garments. As standard a 5.4in foldable e-ink display, which can connect to the boat’s instrument system via Bluetooth, is built into the arm of 878’s jackets.

The company has launched with two ranges of clothing, Racing and ProRacing. Both are made at an in-house facility in eastern Europe using computer controlled digital cutters, sewing machines and bonding techniques, which ensure consistent quality output. If required 3D body scanning can be used to customise the fit.

In April the company received a design award from Germany’s Red Dot Design Museum.


Jacket: from €1,499
Salopettes: from €699.

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