When it comes to outdoor product design, Jim Kershaw is the triple threat: a problem solver, a competitive hard worker, and a passionate outdoorsman. His experience, personality, and high standards come together to produce reliably awesome results. His designs solve problems we didn’t know we had. He perfects features we didn’t know we wanted. And his apparel accomplishes levels of comfort we didn’t know were possible in high-performance pieces. His team creates products to make our lives easier, so we can focus on the pursuits that energize and inspire us.
This spring, Jim and his team are introducing two Ultralight Rainwear pieces to the men’s and women’s product lines: the Storm and the City jackets. Inspired by the Wading Jacket, these pieces have been through rigorous field testing to prove to each of us that, when crafted perfectly, ultralight garments can be exceptionally durable and shockingly comfortable.
We wanted the story of the eyes behind the design, and the inspiration behind the person who helped shift the industry’s treatment of anglers as hobbyists to athletes, so we asked Jim a few questions.
You grew up in North Carolina, adventuring and tinkering in your free time, and stayed close to home to study Industrial Design in college. After graduating, what was your professional path to Orvis?
What are you most passionate about when it comes to design?
“We obsess over details and treat every product as if it’s the first time something like that has been introduced to the market.”
—Jim Kershaw, Senior Designer, Hunt & Fish
What inspires you (creatively, personally, professionally)?
The Ultralight Storm and Ultralight City jackets are inspired by our Ultralight Wading Jacket (introduced in 2017). Tell me about the evolution of this product line, and what problems these products are designed to solve?
With the Wading Jacket, we focused on comfort, breathability and stretch (a relatively new idea to fishing). The fabric is the core of how it achieves those things, allowing the jacket to work with you, not against you. We wanted to evolve the story and take our field-tested fabric beyond the stream. We started by brainstorming different applications for the fabric.
What would it look like if we make the fabric in 2.5 layer (Ultralight Storm)? What would it look like if brought this performance to the city with a modern, urban-style jacket (Ultralight City)? How do we create a waterproof jacket that doesn’t feel like a jacket? How do we create something that’s so comfortable you forget you’re wearing it? Those questions drove us to hyper-focus on developing a variety of waterproof fabric packages with a supple hand, optimal stretch, and the durability we trust to stand up to the abuse of fly-fishing guides.
The Ultralight series is the lightest weight and most breathable rainwear that Orvis offers. A good rain jacket will keep you dry, a great one will make you forget you’re even wearing it. The Ultralight series does that.
What role does field testing play in product development?
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