Compass: Charting the Evolution of Outdoor Gear

Rohan History

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Rohan founded by Paul and Sarah Howcroft in Airton, UK


First garment was the Mountain Salopette

claimed it was first with pockets away from rucksack hipbelts

[ see images from complete 1975 Rohan catalogue, by kind courtesy of Sarah and Paul Howcroft ]


first UK salopette purposed designed for mountaineering (Super Salopette)

first wind and showerproof polyester/cotton breeches

introduce Windlord fabric, claimed it to be the first iceprrof, windproof and breathable fabric


introduce Pampas jacket

introduce first high stretch (60%) climbing/walking breeches (Super Striders)


introduce first bi-stretch windproof jacket (Tundra)

[ see images from complete 1978 Rohan catalogue, kindly provided by David Jones ]

Peter Habeler wears Rohan Gwaihir Jacket, in Windlord fabric, during 1st Ascent of Everest without Oxygen,


Two way stretch materials introduced

launched Trotters, the forerunner of Bags ("first slacks for apre mountian and all round use")

develop what they believe to be the first jacket with a slot for accommodating rucksack hipbelts

first Gore-Tex jacket with a Polyester/Cotton outer shell and lining

first Gore-Tex breeches

import the Italian San Marco line of mountaineering boots with polyurethane shells

[ see images from complete 1979 Rohan catalogue, by kind courtesy of Sarah and Paul Howcroft ]


debut Bayer Dunova knitted fabric (absorbent acrylic modal textile that didn't feel wet against skin)

launch line of down garments designed and made in partnership with Italian brand, Ciesse Piumi, founded 1976

release lightweight travel pants (Bags). (will sell 1 million pair over next 30 years)

consult to Damart and develop the Goredale collection

[ see images from complete 1980 Rohan catalogue, by kind permission of Sarah Howcroft ]


Paul and Sarah Howcroft in three page profile in Great Outdoors magazine. Paul outlines Rohan shop concept

clothing line expands to 21 pieces

begin using RiRi nylon zips from Switzerland


release insulative garments called Dryline, using a thick Dunova terry towelling inside a poly/cotton shell

release Gore-Tex travel jackets, known as City Slickers

release Flashback microsphere reflective jackets for adults and children

Chris Townsend walks 4,000 km over 5.5 months along the Pacific Crest Trail (USA) clad in Rohan apparel


redesign pockets on Bags, so front zippered security pockets can not be ripped off pants by zealous muggers

launch own retail store and mail order service out of Long Preston, North Yorkshire

launch Tu Quo Que - the magazine for Rohan users (aka Rohanists)

experimented with a ripstop version of Airlight fabric

offer loop knit Dunova sweaters and jackets, but have production and supply difficulties

offer line of Dunova socks, but also plagued by supplied difficulties

release Master jacket and pants in Gore-Tex fabric


release Olfio insulated sweater, with Insuflex wadding laminated to knitted cotton/modal lining

Paul Howcroft dubs Gore-tex “a breathing fabric with suffocating service!”

offer Rohan Winter Boots: Italian made, insulated travel boots that contain no leather. (Howcrofts are vegans)

release the definitive catalogue that will "never become out of date", though it soon did.

Rohan garments profiling as ski garments in Vogue magazine

launch Rohan for kids with Chaps pants, simplified kid-sized Bags


Move to industrial complex in Milton Keynes.

open second store. In Covent Garden, London.

Chris Townsend walks 179 days and 4,800 km along the US Continental Divide, clad in Rohan apparel

Boyswear range of Rohan apparel developed under name of Mille Miglia, using a motor sport theme


Open four more stores

Open first Rohan franchie store in Windermere, the Lake District

Rohan sells Moulton bicycles


Commemorative illustration celebrating of 25th anniversary of the Moulton bicycle show a rider clad in Rohan

Rohan Designs North America opens, under licence. A short lived experiment.

The Australian market was also investigated, but not developed

release Dryline, a bicomponent polyester wicking fabric in shirts, knitted tops and legwear linings

get out of the Mille Miglia kids line

open tenth Rohan shop


C&J Clark buy a controlling interest in the company

Dunova makes a comeback, but in a blend with 35% cotton


release the Classico range of smart urban wear, in Airlight Forte fabric


Paul Howcroft dies in recreational motoring accident, aged 42


Management, backed by 3i Group PLC (3i), arrange a company buy-in from Clarks


employs 168 people with sales of £15 million, from 23 stores and 15 shop-in-shops

An investor group backed by Piper Private Equity and Baring English Growth Fund buy 3i Group’s interest in Rohan


Oipolloi and Nigel Cabourn design and release a special 30th anniversary collection of Rohan inspired apparel


win Best Walking Trouser in UK Walking magazine's reader survey


Sarah Howcroft, original co-founder, leads a web discussion of Rohan heritage though the new blog RohanTime

Rohan Designs Ltd now