D480 Anorak: Paying Homage to Earth Sea Sky’s Heritage

D480 Anorak: Earth Sea Sky heritage range

The new D480 Anorak pays homage to Earth Sea Sky’s 65-year heritage of polar clothing design.

Earth Sea Sky is owned and operated by the Ellis family. Sixty-five years ago, the original family company, Arthur Ellis Co Ltd designed and made the down sleeping bags and clothing used on the 1955-58 Commonwealth, Trans Antarctic Expedition (TAE). The New Zealand team led by Sir Edmund Hillary was given the job of laying supply depots for the Sir Vivian Fuchs’ British team whose main goal was to cross the entire continent. The New Zealanders with great efficiency ending up reaching the South Pole on their Fergusson farm tractors long before Fuchs. They were the first team to reach the Pole overland since Scott’s ill-fated journey. Family member Murray Ellis was part of the team of five, nicknamed “The Old Firm”, who reached the Pole.

TAE Pilot Gordon Hassett with Harry Ayres and Murray Ellis, wearing their Robert Lawrie Anoraks. Scott Base January 1958.

Anoraks have always been part of Earth Sea Sky’s range. This new release, the D480, is part of a heritage range timed to mark Earth Sea Sky’s 30-year anniversary and a family involvement with Antarctica spanning over 65 years.

Anoraks designed and made by the London designer Robert Lawrie were issued to both the English and New Zealand TAE teams.

Robert Lawrie neck label (circa 1950’s)

Earth Sea Sky neck label since 1990











The D480 is a modern version of the original Robert Lawrie design. The name comes from the New Zealand team’s first Polar Plateau supply depot. Depot 480 was established at a height of 2,400 metres, on November 25th 1957 by four vehicles and two huskie teams. “A flat featureless sub-zero desert with nothing on the horizon to focus your eyes on”.  In total the team spent eleven days at Depot 480 waiting for food, fuel supplies and new personnel to be ferried by air to and from Scott Base, before they resumed their route south.


Marsh, Wright, Hillary, Mulgrew and Ayres preparing to leave Depot 480.


The Robert Lawrie TAE Anorak Jacket was available in khaki and navy. Most of the field teams wore khaki and the pilots and air crew navy. At the end of the privately funded TAE, the New Zealand Government continued its presence in Antarctica by establishing its own Antarctic Research Programme using Scott Base as the centre of all future activity. Arthur Ellis & Co Ltd replaced the Robert Lawrie anorak with a simpler design.

The D480 TAE Anorak 

The D480 TAE Anorak is branded with our history. The Earth Sea Sky penguin embroidery is on the wearer’s left hand sleeve, the New Zealand flag on the right hand sleeve and the embroidered version of the TAE First Day stamp cover on the front left chest (in the 1950’s embroidered logos were not something that was used).

D480 TAE colours: khaki and terracotta

The D480 is also available without the heritage branding.
D480 colours: terracotta, dusky blue, navy (men only), apple (women only)

The D480 Anorak pullover uses the same Nylon/Canvas fabric we have used in our windproof travel wear  for the past 20 years. The specialised texturised dull nylon yarn comes from Germany and the fabric is woven in Taiwan. It is renowned for its soft, canvas-like touch. The outer surface has a durable, water repellent fluoropolymer finish which improves the fabric’s water beading properties and ensures any soiling is easier to remove during cleaning. Nylon Canvas is extremely hard wearing and has good shower-proof and wind-proof properties.

The jacket has a drawstring hood and an elasticised cord hem. Our specially sourced Spanish spring toggles ensure positive non-slip cinching. The cuffs are elasticated. There is a large zip up front pouch storage pocket with a domed flap cover. Behind this are kangaroo pouch hand warmers. The front and storage pocket zips use antique finished New Zealand made YKK metal zips similar to those on the original Robert Lawrie garment. The hood and storage pockets are lined with a black durable nylon mesh knitted by Pontetorto in Italy.


TAE: Harry Ayres, George Marsh, and Roy Carlyon at Depot 480.


The real Depot 480 – Antarctic Polar Plateau – established November 1957

“The team of six of us (Ed, Peter, Derek, Jim, Doug McKenzie (press correspondent) and self) left depot 480 on Friday night the 6th Dec. We left Harry and Roy at 480 as they were going to leave next morning and head east into the head of the Darwin and survey all around the neve there and then travel down the glacier to the Ferrar.

The tractors left 480 heavily laden but luckily, we struck good surfaces for a start and after travelling 15¼ hours with a 3 hour break for a meal we covered 52 miles. The weather was beautifully clear with hardly a breath of wind and the temp about -15°F (-26˚C).

The second day was also good going although we were held up for an hour or so when a sledge sidled into a narrow crevasse. However, once it was out, we headed west for a couple of miles and managed to steer clear of anymore for the time being. By the end of the second day we had travelled 92 miles and we thought that all going well the 220 miles between depots would soon be behind us.”

Murray Ellis diary extract.

 The TAE Robert Lawrie Anorak

A khaki-beige anorak (pullover-style) with fur-trimmed hood. The stitching is cream. The anorak has a drawstring hood, waist and hem, with leather panels for the eyelets, round white textile cord drawstrings and clear plastic cuboid toggles. The hood is trimmed with brown fur. There is an additional flap of material in the neck, below which is a strip of leather. Each cuff has a flap with one buttonhole reinforced with leather, and two round white plastic buttons secured with metal pins and reinforced on the back with leather. There is a large central breast pocket with a pocket flap and metal zip. The back of the anorak is covered in stitching in a large diamond pattern. Inside the anorak are two buttons – one at the front on the hem at the centre, and one on the back higher up. Fastened to the inside back of the anorak at hem level is a textile strap with two buttonholes reinforced with leather. This strap would be passed between the legs and fastened to the round white plastic button at the front hem to hold everything in place, when not in use the strap is fastened to the button at the back. Inside the neck is a manufacturer’s label with Robert Lawrie Ltd//London W.1


Who was Robert Lawrie?