The Polartec® Story

One of the most significant events in the history of performance outdoor clothing was the arrival of knitted polyester Polar Fleece.

Two and a half times warmer for its weight than any natural fibre and absorbing less than 3% of its weight in moisture, it rapidly became sought after for being the most efficient   insulation layer for the outdoors. To this day nothing has topped it for thermal efficiency and fast drying ability.

Polar Fleece was the innovation of the Massachusetts company, Malden Mills. Branded Polartec®, this fabric was first released just a few years before Earth Sea Sky was founded back in 1990.

Fitting our commitment to using only the best fabrics for performance and durability an enduring relationship was formed between ourselves and the Malden Mills team.

Tragically in 1996 fire destroyed the mill. CEO and owner, Aaron Feuerstein, 70 years old at the time, could have walked away with the insurance pay out and lived comfortably. However, he chose to keep his 3,000 staff employed and paid and to rebuild the mill. Further, he continued to find a way to keep supplying his customers, even Earth Sea Sky one of his smallest, located on the other side of the world.

Sadly, Aaron Feuerstein passed away earlier this month in Boston aged 95 years.  David Ellis, Earth Sea Sky CEO noted our debt saying: ‘Earth Sea Sky essentially owes our existence to Aaron Feuerstein.’

The cost of his actions after the fire eventually resulted in the company filing for bankruptcy but Aaron Feurerstein maintained that though worthless on paper   the company was worth so much more.

Photo:The Associated Press. Aaron Feuerstein in 2003

Malden Mills did not patent the word ‘Polar’. Many inferior look alike products appeared under the generic Polar Fleece name. Malden Mills registered the term Polartec® and marketed their entire range under it. It was a clever rear-guard action – as Polartec® was seen as the only reliable quality brand amongst a multitude of copiers.

Polartec® continues to be the leading innovator, offering the best quality, performance, and durability for an impressive catalogue of outdoor fabric from base layers to outer waterproof protection and all the thermal layers in-between.

We frequently have customers visit wearing their Earth Sea Sky Polartec® garments that are 20+ years old and still going strong.

Liz, with her original Polartec® 200 jacket

As well as fleece we use the Polartec® base layer range of bicomponent (wicking and moisture dispersing) fabrics.

All Earth Sea Sky garments using Polartec® fabrics have the distinctive three triangle Polartec® logo sewn into the side seam.

From the other side of the world Earth Sea Sky salutes you Mr Feuerstein for your vision, sincerity and kindness.

David and Kendon, Arthurs Pass in Polartec® Power Dry® and Power Grid® base layers