There’s a lot to love about synthetic fleece—it’s soft and comfortable, it’ll keep you warm in nasty conditions, and when used in brightly colored outerwear, it’s a gorpcore staple. The material has held up through decades of adventures, and with the advent of fleece made of recycled plastic, there's even more to love. Celebrating this long legacy and modern advancements is a new collection from Polartec, the company that literally invented synthetic fleece, and Jack Wolfskin, a German outdoor apparel brand with deep roots in adventure.
It’s called the DNA Hike Collection, and its lineup of vintage-inspired items offers a 21st-century update to iconic fleeces of the ‘80s and ‘90s. While the release date is still pending, this preview is the perfect thing to get you (and us) excited for fall temps also coming soon.
Along with highlighting heritage—through a trove of retro archival imagery, no less—the DNA Hike Collection resurfaces the longstanding ties between Polartec and Jack Wolfskin. The two brands first collaborated in 1988, just a few years after Polartec (with a helping hand from Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard) launched the first-ever synthetic fleece.
Jack Wolfskin introduced the material to Europe with its own line of outerwear, and it quickly grew into the largest producer of fleeces on that side of the Atlantic. While Patagonia’s Synchilla fabric became synonymous with fleece in the States, in Europe, Jack Wolfskin became known as "the fleece brand."
The two brands first collaborated in 1988... in Europe, Jack Wolfskin became known as "the fleece brand."
The new collection focuses on Jack Wolfskin’s greatest hits from those early years of fleece. It includes the Grizzly jacket, based on a design from 1989, and the Gecko midlayer, first released in 1995. Both of which now feature modern Polartec fleece. Plus there's the Blizzard jacket, a windproof shell that debuted in 1999 and now comes updated with Windbloc fabric made from recycled plastic.
Each top in the collection comes with a vintage style that doesn’t cut corners on performance. The collection also underscores something outdoor enthusiasts have known since the ’80s: Whether you’re bagging peaks or grabbing groceries, you can’t go wrong with a good fleece.