Packham (56) says he has been inspired to design the range in response to what he sees as young people’s increasing disconnection from nature. He believes the combination of fashion edge with a fun educational twist will encourage the call of the wild for a new generation of young explorers.
“Young people have become disconnected from nature, principally because they don’t get to meet it first hand, see, hear or smell it. They don’t get to feel it and therefore they never have the chance to fall in love with it.
“Simultaneously in the minds of many parents the ‘great outdoors’ has become a dirty and dangerous place for children to be. It’s a very vicious circle which is endangering the development of the ‘great British naturalists’ of tomorrow.
“Living in the UK, with its unpredictable climate, we invariably have to ‘dress up’ to go out, to stay dry and warm and kids have become more selective about what they will or won’t wear.
“So I’ve designed some ‘cooler’ kids jackets, fleeces and trousers, with interesting patterns and in friendlier fabrics than the more familiar GORE-TEX® or fleeces but just as waterproof and just as warm. And they are specially aimed at the budding biologist – these are probably the world’s first fully educational clothes for kids.”
“Each kids' jacket comes with a set of fold out field guides (birds, mammals, butterflies and bugs) and a link to a charitable website where they can learn more about the species they find and identify. There’s a magnifying glass so curious eyes can get a closer view. There’s a ‘wet pocket’, a removable/washable liner which can be used to carry home some of the less savoury finds on a ramble – perfect for skulls and pellets . . . and worse! The lining of each jacket also has a guide to the commoner footprints left by the UK’s mammals and birds. Simply look inside your coat to see if it’s a fox, badger or dog that’s left its mark in the mud!”
"It would be a shame for adults to miss out on these tailor-made for naturalists features so I’ve done a men’s and women’s range as well. Soft lined pockets to take phones and tablets (which are slowly but surely replacing paper field guides), top quality quiet woollen waterproof fabrics, repairable poppers, hand warming pouches . . . and in designs and colours that won’t make you look like a mountaineer when you pop into the supermarket. We left out the footprints . . . just ask the kids!"
They’re made in China. He tried very hard to get them manufactured in the UK but the cost was prohibitive. “So I’ve found the best factory available. The working conditions, the working hours and the pay are all good. It has its own gym, medical facilities and swimming pool. It has its own vegetable garden to provide the canteen with fresh food. I’m satisfied that it’s good.”
Each jacket has an inscription on the yoke which reads: “Love life. All life. Every thing is beautiful, everything that creeps, crawls, slimes, slithers or stings. Not least because all that life keeps us all alive and that in itself, we should treasure as the greatest beauty of all.”
“If one child puts one of these coats on, goes out, meets nature and falls in love with it then I’ll be happy. And if one adult ‘says “no Velcro – the best badger watching jacket I’ve ever had” then I’ll be happy.”
Chris Packham clothing is sold exclusively at Cotswold Outdoor in stores around the country and online at www.cotswoldoutdoor.com