A hulking three-masted ship is beset on all sides by pack ice. Sat still against the desolation of an endless polar desert, there is nothing except the sky and a mass of craggy slabs. The Endurance (as the ship is christened) tips to the left, threatening to keel over into the dark seas of the Antarctic – leaving its crew to fend for themselves. At that moment, their leader Sir Ernest Shackleton is faced with an important decision: to step up or to die. “They could’ve just given up,” Martin Brooks tells The Rake, who along with Ian Holdcroft, co-founded British adventure apparel brand Shackleton in 2015. “Instead, he decided to do the impossible.”
In 1917, with a tenacity that would become legendary of the Irishman, his cool decision-making under extreme duress famously ensured that all 28 of his men survived; persevering through 17 days on the planet’s stormiest ocean in a lifeboat and trekking over the glacier-draped mountains of an as-yet unmapped South Georgia in search of rescue. It isn’t for nothing that Ernest Shackleton is remembered as one of history’s great survivors. If there was ever an adventurer to pin a performance brand’s ethos to, it was him.
“Shackleton’s entire life was a theatre of reckoning, but it was this story in particular that inspired the two of us to begin the project,” Holdcroft insists. “What he did – and what, deep down, the brand is about – is stepping up in the face of uncertainty.” It is fitting that, at the heart of Shackleton the brand are two men diving headfirst into the unknown. “We knew little about running a clothing brand before we began,” admits Brooks. In taking on the Herculean task of building the strongest, most durable outerwear available – while ensuring every piece is made in Britain – their success has embodied Sir Ernest’s motto: Fortitudine Vincimus, or ‘By Endurance We Conquer.’ “Whether it is sailing the seas, crossing deserts or building a brand, taking the easy path isn’t in our nature,” says Brooks.