Just in time for Father’s Day comes the nicest umbrella your dad (or you) will ever need. London Undercover is a London-based company started in 2008 to provide well-designed “British fashion accessories” like the City Gent umbrella range. While US$150 sounds like a lot for an umbrella, there are plenty of $350 umbrellas on the market that seem comparable in quality (to my admittedly untrained eye).
above: London Undercover’s City Gent Lifesaver umbrella in brown/olive (image: londonundercover.co.uk)
When I was an undergrad in college, the first rainy spring semester changed my attitude toward using (and carrying) an umbrella – a full-sized, stick (non-collapsible) umbrella at that! A navy, wood-handled umbrella at the university bookstore caught my eye. There was only one left and the wood had a small split in it, which somehow seemed to add to its character. I used that umbrella for four or five years until it was misplaced, and I simultaneously joined the Gore-Tex shell trend of the 90’s! Stick umbrellas are vastly superior in function and durability than collapsible versions, as long as the length doesn’t cause you too many issues. Like many people, I still keep collapsible umbrellas stowed away for “emergency” use.
I still like to wear a waterproof shell a lot of the time, but a jacket doesn’t keep your bags, pants or shoes dry – and a wet jacket gets your car seats wet, too. I think everyone should have a decent stick umbrella in addition to a quality waterproof shell jacket (and a pair of L.L. Bean Maine Hunting Boots).
So back to the umbrella – for Father’s Day I asked, and received, a London Undercover City Gent Lifesaver umbrella, which is a part of their City Gent range. The Lifesaver Range is named for the British Lifeboat rescue services, with the colors representing those of the service – orange, dark navy and brown (aka olive). The City Gent umbrellas use malacca wood handles and beech wood shafts, metal tip cups and spokes, as well as bronze ferrules. The Lifesaver variants feature a slightly darker “gunmetal” finish on the metal parts and a very functional bright orange elastic button fastener.
When I picked up this umbrella, the first thing that struck me was that it was neither heavy nor unbalanced. All that wood just “looks” heavy and my old umbrella was handle-heavy.
London Undercover umbrellas are not easy to find in the U.S. You can order directly from London Undercover’s online shop, or from one of several UK sites. Mine was bought from Stuarts London; see also Mr Porter.