Menswear tends toward the scholarly, with its reverence for the archival and incessant fussing over heritage and tradition. Which explains the jolt when discovering a brand as relentlessly future-focused as Vollebak: You squint at the lustrous metallic outerwear and color-shifting parkas and wonder if this is what Silicon Valley ayahuasca types wear motorcycle-camping in the desert while you’re home researching deadstock herringbone.
“We think about clothes the way René Redzepi thinks about food or Bjarke Ingels thinks about architecture,” says Nick Tidball, Vollebak’s cofounder along with his twin brother, Steve, describing an experimental approach to future-proofing garments against climate change, resource scarcity, and the anticipated physical and psychological needs of interplanetary travel.
The pitch, like the label’s branding and marketing, is almost suspiciously slick (it helps to know the brothers previously enjoyed a successful career as a creative duo in London advertising) until you realize the clothes actually fit their hyperbolic billings: The Apocalypse Jacket is fireproof to 2,370 degrees Fahrenheit, includes 23 pockets, and converts into a sleeping bag, while the Full Metal Jacket is composed largely of antimicrobial copper, known to kill both bacteria and viruses. Later that evening, Ingels even shows up to dinner—turns out he’s an enthusiastic collaborator. “These guys think about clothes the way I think about design,” he says.
Yet despite the sci-fi ideas and bold names, the gear itself is exceedingly wearable, relatively low-key even when extremely technical. Across product lines that include Indestructible, 100 Year, Equator, and Waterfallproof, the aesthetic veers from snowboard-chic to earthy, algae-dyed natural fibers to futuristic takes on retro adventuring gear—think Ker & Downey by way of Dune. Our favorite: the insulated 3-D-knitted Mars Hoodie (pictured, $795), made by a machine designed to build bedding. The result is a sculptural and ultrasoft sweatshirt with the heft and density of an anxiety blanket (it weighs over two and a half pounds) and the supremely coddling comfort of a memory-foam mattress. Vollebak calls it “chill-out gear for Mars,” but we like its utility at orbits slightly closer to home: as the ultimate air travel hoodie.