Cath and Josh working on designs

Waterproof Technology

Our hometown is Vancouver and we know a thing or two about rain. After all, there’s a reason people call it Raincouver—on average, it rains about 165 days a year. Needless to say, our outerwear designers are rain-savvy and well-equipped with first-hand knowledge to create truly intentional and functional gear to help you stay warm and dry in wet weather.

We sat down with our outerwear designers, Cath Lebrun and Joshua Hiney, to get an in-depth look at waterproofing and our new waterproof jackets: The Furtive Jacket and the Definitely Raining Jacket.

Cath hails from Quebec City and moved to Vancouver in 2011 to start her career as an Outerwear Designer with lululemon.

Design Director (and Designer) for Post Sweat, No Sweat and Outerwear, Joshua, brings a wealth of experience with him from San Francisco. He’s been living in Vancouver and working with lululemon since March 2014.

One thing that we’re all excited about this fall is having waterproof jackets. Can you describe what waterproof gear is?

Cath: To make a jacket waterproof we need to combine a waterproof fabric and a waterproof construction. A waterproof fabric has a membrane that doesn’t allow the water in. A waterproof construction means that every seam will be taped and sealed so that water can’t get in. Sewing the waterproof fabric makes tiny holes so we need to apply a tape to keep water out. The same goes for anything applied to the jacket like zippers and trims.

Josh Hiney working on designs

"Knowing why things were created helps you understand how to create them in technical and innovative ways."

—Joshua Hiney, Men's Design Director & Designer

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Cath: It’s everything and it’s all the time.

Joshua: Agreed. Your brain never shuts off. You’re always designing, but something that always inspires me is vintage military and red wine.

Interestingly, if you look at a waterproof military garment, it’s essentially a heavy piece of cotton that’s been woven so tightly it’s waterproof. You’ll also notice that there’s a lot of glue sticking out of different places. They used glue to make sure that they could re-glue the seams that came undone in the field. 

Cath: We also get to travel for work and when we travel we look at things completely differently. It’s like your eyes are bigger when you travel.

What was your inspiration for waterproof outerwear this season?

Cath: Vancouver. I love going outside and going on runs when it rains. If you have a good jacket, it doesn’t even matter that it’s raining.

You both have been designing for a while now, what does it mean for you to be a designer?

Joshua: For me it’s about problem solving while keeping the design beautiful and functional. 

"Everything is there for a reason, if it doesn’t have a reason, it shouldn’t be there."

—Joshua Hiney, Men's Design Director & Designer

Speaking of problem solving, how does the design process work?

Joshua: It starts with a need. We then do a lot of research and seek inspiration.  You can take a lot of things that have been purposed for fashion only and make it in a technical way.

Then you’ll start sketching and working with your product developer. That’s usually when we brainstorm on how to construct the design.

Cath: When the collaboration starts, things start to change.

Josh: Just because you can draw it, doesn’t mean the factory can do it. After we’ve figured out the construction, we go to the factory and work with them more closely.

Cath Lebrun working on designs

"I don’t want to create something with such a small purpose that you can only wear it twice. If you love it, I want you to be able to wear it all the time."

—Cath Lebrun, Outerwear Designer

What goes into making sure that a waterproof product meets our standards?

Cath: Lots of testing.

Joshua: First you need to find a tape that’s going to adhere to the fabric you’re using. That tape is used to seal the seams so water can’t get in.  When we’ve found the right combination, we put a sample over a water pressure machine to see if anything comes through it.

That lets you know that the seam tape and the fabric are waterproof. After you’ve made the garment, you have to put it on a mannequin for a rain test. That’s when you can see if water gets in anywhere, rework the construction and continue testing until it’s waterproof.

What features are you most excited about on these jackets?

Joshua: I think it’s the hood. The Furtive Jacket has a stowable hood so that you can wear it in multiple situations. We want to create options for our guests.

Outerwear is an investment, and it’s important that our guest doesn’t feel the jacket they’re buying is not a ‘one-season-and-done type of jacket’. All of the features we put in to our styles help create a jacket that our guest can wear in various seasons in various elements.

Cath: On the Definitely Raining Jacket it also has to be the hood with a double cinch that keeps your peripheral vision in check. My pet peeve is when you turn your head and the hood doesn’t move with you so you can’t see. It also has a two-way zipper that helps make biking and commuting easy.

On a rainy day you’ll find Cath making the most of it outside, while Joshua takes advantage of being able to nap with his dog, Tonka.  

Cath and Joshua working on designs