Special Forces Approved : ThruDark Clothing
Designed and built by former Special Forces soldiers. Tested by ThruDark Director Mr Jay Morton, 'SAS Who Dares Wins' star Mr Jason Carl Fox and multiple world record breaking mountaineer Mr Nirmal “NIMS” Purja MBE. ThruDark clothing is seriously tough outdoor apparel.
PRESENTED BY THRUDARK
It's tough to find an outdoor apparel brand as authentic as ThruDark. The Founders are former UK Special Forces and their Expeditions Director Mr Jay Morton has summited Everest twice. Brand Ambassadors include world breaking mountaineer Mr Nirmal “NIMS” Purja MBE and Mr Jason Carl “Foxy” Fox of TV's 'SAS Who Dares Wins'. We caught up with Co-Founder Mr Louis Tinsley to find out more about the brand's military DNA and product testing, which makes ThruDark clothing 'mission-critical outerwear'.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your ThruDark Co-Founder? Where did you meet and what were you both doing before ThruDark clothing?
Staz and I (Louis) have known each other for over 15 years since we started our careers in the military as Royal Marine Commandos. Our Unrelenting Pursuit of Excellence led us to endure the United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF) selection process, both passing the gruelling test of mind, body, and spirit. We spent the majority of our careers serving with the most formidable ‘Tier One Operators’ (TIER 1 – a term using within military circles to distinguish the elite of the elite) from around the globe.
Being former UK Special Forces soldiers, what motivated you and Staz to create an outdoor clothing brand?
Tier One Operators are equipped with the best clothing and equipment (and beards) there is, they have to be … their lives depend on it. As any good operator does, we’ve always pulled at the kit we’ve been issued and questioned its function and performance, it’s rare that you’re able to directly influence the manufacturing of the kit you’re given.
No self-respecting Operator wants to look like a bag of ***t either … if it doesn’t function as it should - we won’t use it … if it doesn’t look sharp - it won’t get worn.
Nearing the end of the rockstar years in modern-day warfare we began to think about our careers beyond the Special Forces, most of our guys go on to work in some kind of security industry but Staz and I didn’t want to go down that route so we starting talking about alternatives. So I guess we both saw an opportunity where we can make a difference to the kit and directly feed it back into our guys, not only that but we can find a niche in the civilian market for military-grade and Special Forces approved clothing and equipment. From door kickers to fabric pullers.
Does ThruDark have a meaning, and how has the ThruDark adventure been so far?
Long story but I’ll try and compress it a little. I can honestly say … this has been challenging, we’ve encountered numerous obstacles, trials, and setbacks. We wouldn’t have this any other way, anything hard-earned is appreciated so much more. We began discussing the brand name when we were on a military parachute canopy course in the USA, we bounced around quite a few ideas and one clicked.
The name ThruDark originates from our operations which were led almost always through the night.
Parachuting at night is extremely difficult … you’re laden with kit, rifles, optics, clothing, rucksacks, some operators have dogs strapped to their chest. You’re unsure of you’re airspace and night vision goggles restrict your peripheral vision …. The landing comes fast and hard and you’re glad you’ve made it to the DZ if you’re drills are squared. It also represents the endurance through difficult situations experienced not only by ourselves and our colleagues but to all of those who encounter hardship in their own lives – hence the slogan Endeavour Through Adversity.
So we knew what we wanted to do … we knew what we wanted to call the brand … we knew what it stood for … now the difficult part … HOW do we do it? After much research and creative man-hours sketching down design ideas (Signed Louis – age 3) and concepts, I got my balls in my hand and took a flight out to China, assuming that this would be the solution to manufacturing. After all, you check most garment labels nowadays and the origins would suggest that this is the epicentre of clothing production. Well … it is … but it comes with a lot of s*** filtering. Even when you’ve done with the filtering the quality is almost always poor, unless you have the commercial punch to get your foot in the door with the quality factories. We didn’t’ have the punch and the sample product we were receiving back wasn’t good enough, it rarely is.
That’ll do ... will never do.
Tail between my legs where my hand was once placed … I came back to the UK reporting my frustrations to Staz, still determined to make this work at all costs. We asked the question – can we get this made in here? The United Kingdom once had a thriving clothing manufacturing network, this was no more due to the margin chasing of huge retail organisations who switched all of their production to Asia – the irony. I began a work placement in a small factory in the north of England – learning from the ground up how a garment is made, it had heart and soul but the product was somewhat ‘knife over fork’. It was basic and hardly something with the technical capabilities needed for a Special Forces operator.
More research and development ensued and through hard work and dedication, we found ourselves in a factory in Italy – finally a premium product with all the bells and whistles we needed. We were in the right place – costs of sampling and production were high but the product was excusing the pun – seamless! We haven’t looked back since (even enlisting the services of actor Tom Hardy in the making of Inception). The result is high-performance outerwear with a Special Forces stamp of approval, that comes at a cost … skilled technicians and craftsmen and women diligently detail all of our products. Our price is premium and so is the product.
The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price has been forgotten. Buy nice or buy twice - sustainability begins with products that last.
Now here we are … building upon strong foundations, competing and exceeding in most cases at giving the big players a run for their money in our industry. It’s got Heritage, Heart, Soul, Substance, and Meaning … The relentless pursuit of excellence! … The Brotherhood of brands!
ThruDark clothing has accomplished a lot already. A voiceover from Mr Tom Hardy featured on Messrs Jason Carl Fox and Jay Morton in TV’s ‘SAS Who Dares Wins’ – and reached the summit of Mount Everest. Are there any ThruDark achievements you’re most excited by?
Our most challenging … on the first anniversary of our inception we had two bespoke Expedition summit suits on the top of the world – Mount Everest. Worn by our colleague from our service Nirmal Purja MBE and Jay Morton our Expedition Director from the SAS. It was a time to sit back momentarily and appreciate how far we have come in such a short period of time.
Currently … the team is on the way back from Chamonix in the French Alps … a mountaineer’s playground. We have operated and thrived in some of the world’s most inhospitable environments so anywhere that pushes us outside of our comfort zones is where you’ll find us. Testing and evaluating the products function, we push ourselves and our garments to the limits to ensure that the equipment meets our and the end-users demands. We are driven by challenges… always striving to excel at what we do and better ourselves.
Your transportation of choice?
We’ll choose the hard way over the easy way and the long way over the short way. We have a team Land Rover Defender 90 pick up and we rely upon Land Rover vehicles to support our ‘missions’. Helicopters are pricey when you’re outside of military time but you’ll still get us jumping out of planes to get the buzz we used to have as operators for a frequent period.
What kind of animal do you want to be?
My favourite interview question to ask I’m happy about this HAHA!
I (Louis) would be
GREY WOLF (Canis Lupus) :
Due to its large head and small feet … social traits of hunting alone and being able to interact with the pack - nasty bite!
Staz my ThruDark Co-Founder
HONEY BADGER (Mellivora Capensis) :
Small in stature, thick skin, and ferocious defensive abilities.
Any Special Forces tips when venturing off-grid?
- Never eat yellow snow!
- Carry a knife – Save a life!
- 7 P’s – Prior Preparation & Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance!
Netflix Series: Peaky Blinders
Late-night Gas Station Purchase: Midget Gems
Instagram to Follow: @talismantriathlon one man’s attempt to found and complete the UK’s first Extreme Triathlon – supporting CALM mental health awareness
Favourite Book: Marcus Aurelius – Meditations
Podcast you’re into: Jordan B Peterson
Travel hack: Compression legging
Wine, beer or liquor: Rum because we’re Pirates
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