This season Wallace Mercantile is excited to be the first shop in North America to carry a unique brand: Czech techwear superstar Tilak.
In the growing and highly competitive world of outdoor apparel, Tilak is a brand that checks (Czechs?) all the boxes: incredible build quality, stylish design, and a fascinating origin story. In 1986, during the twilight years of the Soviet Union, a young Czech climber named Roman Kamler was frustrated with the lack of proper outdoor sleeping bags available in Czechoslovakia, so he set out to make his own. Thirty-four years later Tilak is still owned and run by Kamler, and the brand has earned a reputation in Europe and Japan for producing some of the best technical outerwear on the market. If you need any more convincing, it’s the only Czech brand licensed by W.L. Gore to use GORE-TEX in its products. For most of Tilak’s history, its bread and butter has functional, supremely built clothing for outdoor activity, but it’s also gained attention in fashion circles for its stylish designs. Taking inspiration from the hiking gear of yore, much of Tilak’s clothing features bright colorways and old-school colour blocking reminiscent of vintage North Face and Patagonia. Tilak’s appreciation of heritage carries over into its manufacturing, with 100% of its collection still made in the Czech Republic. Back in January, the Wallace team visited Tilak’s factory in Moravia and the brand’s excellent standards were apparent in every room. By employing skilled seamstresses from the flagging (but storied) Czech garment industry, Tilak is able to provide jobs in its community while creating the best product possible.
Recently, the brand has expanded its repertoire by launching the Poutnik line, an urban-oriented collection designed by ACRONYM founder and techwear god Errolson Hugh. Poutnik, the Czech word for wanderer, perfectly communicates the essence of this collection: functional, versatile clothing that can serve the city-dweller in the same way that Tilak’s mainline serves hikers and climbers. Of course, the demands of the city aren’t exactly as rigorous as those of the mountains, so the Poutnik line is free to incorporate design elements from other areas of fashion (for example, a classic three-quarter-length coat). Errolson Hugh’s sleek silhouettes combined with Tilak’s technical know-how makes the Poutnik line a more relaxed, style-forward interpretation of the brand’s ethos.
Now that we’ve covered the brand, let’s get into the pieces. For SS20, we’re stoked to introduce a small but mighty offering of three top-notch items. First off, we have the Odin Jacket, one of Tilak’s flagships. This military-inspired jacket is a quarter-zip anorak constructed entirely of Ventile. For those unfamiliar, Ventile is a super water-resistant, extremely durable fabric originally designed to replace flax in the production of fire hoses. But here’s the best part: it’s 100% cotton. This means Ventile is far more breathable, comfortable, and quiet than the synthetics usually found in outdoor jackets. While the fabric is certainly the highlight of the Odin Jacket, Tilak still brought the thunder with their clever technical details: two roomy front pockets, two small phone pockets, adjustable hood, and asymmetrical cuffs to keep the rain off your hands. This combination of functionality, weatherproofness, military-styling, and surprising light weight makes the Odin Jacket a true four-season workhorse.
Rounding out the shop’s SS20 Tilak selection are the Blade Jacket and Blade Vest, two sister pieces from the Poutnik line. Unlined and deceptively light, these pieces serve as excellent outer layers during the warmer months and comfortable mid-layer when the weather gets colder. Errolson Hugh’s fingerprints are all over this design. A sleek, minimal profile makes these pieces very versatile from a styling perspective, but without any compromise on functionality. What appears to be two cargo pockets on the front of the garment is actually four, with two side-entry hand pockets hidden underneath. By avoiding visual clutter, the Blade Jacket and Vest retain an understated look that is rarely found in technical clothing, but still provides all the functionality required in day-to-day life.