Susan Griffiths, who designs and manufactures our outdoor clothing, talks about working with Ventile
‘I was very lucky enough to complete my apprenticeship at Hilltrek in Aboyne in the 1990′s and I have continued learning working with the fabric. When we first started out using Ventile there were not many other companies making outdoor clothing with the fabric. This was in the days before the internet and our Ventile clothing was mainly supplied to customers in the North of Scotland. With the introduction of our website in 2004, sales took off globally and have been continuing to grow ever since.
My skills and knowledge of Ventile have grown alongside Hilltrek and every day working with the fabric brings a new challenge. Many of our customers ask for slight alterations or additional features on our standard designs and these designs have subsequently evolved over the years. The first bespoke design that I produced was an Exploration Jacket for a customer who intended on using it in the Antarctic, which was a challenging design with many features. I also designed our ‘Wee Trekker’ range of Nikwax Analogy clothing for children and developed our clothing designs in Cotton Analogy, which combines Ventile and Nikwax Analogy.
Ventile as a material is in a class of its own and working with it involves a higher skill than other fabrics as there is no room for error– any mistakes show and there is no way to erase them! For this reason you have to be 100% confident working with the material. Such a good quality material stands for itself but it’s important that the style and quality of the garments we produce reflects the quality implied in the name‘Ventile’.
Understanding our customers is also fundamental and, being a small company, I have maintained first hand contact with the people who are using Ventile every day for a variety of outdoor pursuits. Although I feel sometimes that I’ve heard most uses of our Ventile clothing, there are always surprises!
Customers requests and feedback shape my knowledge and experience and I think this has been the key factor in producing some of our best garments yet. We have made clothing for a wide range of people from all over the world and our appreciation of individual requirements has resulted in many returning customers.
I continually strive to ensure that people associate the Hilltrek brand with the same quality and respect that Ventile has earned for itself and, at the end of the day, I have to be personally satisfied that each garment is of the quality that people have come to expect of Hilltrek.
As the Hilltrek Brand continues to grow, and we continue producing these quality garments, each day I’m reminded that no matter how many years experience we have in this type of work….we’re always learning.