“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
― Leonardo da Vinci
DANIEL BAUMLI LAUNCHED MILVUS ESPECIALLY TO SUIT THE AVIATION NEEDS OF LIKE-MINDED AMBITIOUS GLIDER PILOTS
Apparently, the sport of gliding only emerged after the First World War, as a result of the Treaty of Versailles, which imposed severe restrictions on the manufacture and use of single-seat powered aircraft in Germany's Weimar Republic. According to Deutsches Museum: “a loophole in the Allied regulations allowed activities related to gliding. A broad-based “gliding movement” took shape. Initially, gliding was little more than a second best choice for sport fliers and interested designers.”
So in the 1920s and 1930s, while aviators and aircraft makers in the rest of the world were working to improve the performance of powered aircraft, the Germans were designing, developing and flying ever more efficient gliders and discovering ways of using the natural forces in the atmosphere to make them fly farther and faster. With the active support of the German government, there were roughly 50,000 glider pilots by 1937.
Today, fifty percent of the world’s glider pilots live and fly in Germany. Yet until interior designer and avid glider pilot, Daniel Baumli, launched MILVUS, especially to suit the aviation needs of like-minded ambitious glider pilots, there was nothing else out there on the market.
Manufaktur catches up with the MILVUS founder, to understand what’s behind the name and what it takes to deliver best in class gliding clothing for optimal performance in the sky.
DETAILS BECOME VERY IMPORTANT FOR YOU WHEN YOU ARE IN THE AIR
TELL US ABOUT HOW MILVUS CAME ABOUT?
I started flying glider planes about eight years ago. In the beginning you try to stay up under the clouds for as long as possible. As soon as you become better you are able to stay up in the air for eight to nine hours. Good pilots manage to fly 600-900km in 8-9hrs. As you get better you realise that you need the right sort of clothing for these journeys. However, unlike with every other sport out there, there was nothing that catered specifically for glider pilots. If you run, you can buy running shoes. If mountain biking is your thing, there’s specific apparel for that too. But nothing for gliding.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO CALL THE BRAND MILVUS?
When I made my first solo flight in a KA-8, I was fortunate enough to circle three times with a beautiful red kite. Its Latin name is Milvus Milvus. It was such a special experience for me and it stayed with me. It seemed like the perfect name for a brand inextricably lined with flight.
WHAT SORT OF APPAREL WERE YOU LOOKING TO CREATE FOR MILVUS?
You have to remember that the cockpit is very narrow and you experience quite dramatic temperature fluctuations. As a result you have very little space to move, so things like pocket placement and ventilation zipper placement become very important for you when you are in the air.
Initially I tried to find a tailor who might be able to create a solution, but they didn’t know how to use technical fabrics. I did some research and discovered Development Never Stops which specialises in coming up with innovative development solutions for highly technical garments for clients in outdoor, active sports, fashion, medical, and military around the globe. It then became much easier, as the solution I was looking for is something they do all day long.
They were the people who put me in contact with KTC. But the other thing was there was nobody in Europe really interested in working with me on MILVUS. Also, there was certainly nobody capable of delivering that quality that KTC could.
ITS A REALLY EASY RELATIONSHIP – THERE ARE NEVER ANY PROBLEMS AT ALL
HOW DOES THE RELATIONSHIP WORK WITH KTC?
All of the actual development work happens here in Zurich with Development Never Stops. I would do a lot more directly with KTC, but I like to have the chance to explain my ideas directly with DNS, looking at the finer details with them and how they translate directly to the products. We will then send prototypes to KTC, who in turn will work on how to make the design details more effective, using their incredible knowledge and expertise to deliver outstanding products. Its a really easy relationship – there are never any problems at all.
GIVE US AN EXAMPLE OF SOME OF THE SOLUTIONS YOU HAVE COLLABORATED ON?
Like I’ve said, the cockpit is very narrow, so you can’t change your clothes or remove your jacket. In essence everything has to stay in the same position for eight hours. In summer, it might be 25° when you take off, but when you get to 4,000m the temperature drops down to 0°. You need your ventilation zips to be easily accessible so you can zip them up to regulate your body temperature. Your side pockets need to be in the right place, with direct access, so nothing can fall under your seat. You need an extra long front zipper on your trousers for easy bladder management. Also, there can’t be too many straps hanging loose, as they might get caught in the pedals and (at worst) hinder an emergency bailout.
THE RESULT OF THIS COLLABORATION IS WHAT IS KNOWN AS THE ALFA AND BRAVO GLIDING TROUSERS?
Alfa and Bravo were just the first two products. A year later came Delta and now we’re working on ECcho, Foxtrot and Golf. MILVUS gliding trousers are made from light, breathable fabric, making them both comfortable to wear and allowing excellent temperature regulation. The seating area is endowed with abrasion resistant stretch fabric on the outside and fitted with soft, skin friendly fabric on the inside. Their grey tone prevents unwanted reflection on the cockpit canopy.
The ergonomic shape of the trousers is designed for the reclined flying position of the glider pilot. The legs are a bit longer than for a normal trouser, ensuring that the ankles are covered and thereby protected from the cold or sunrays. The knee areas are anatomically shaped, guaranteeing optimal fit of the trousers.
TECHNICAL APPAREL MADE IN CHINA IS PRETTY MUCH UNBEATABLE
DOES THE KTC TEAM CHALLENGE YOUR DESIGNS?
There’s probably nobody better placed to. KTC has been in the business for so many years, so when they point out how something can be made better, you have to listen. They will know where any possible problems might arise due to their unrivalled expertise in technical performance apparel. Why wouldn’t you listen to an expert?
FOR MANY YEARS ‘MADE IN CHINA’ HAS HAD A NEGATIVE PERCEPTION IN THE WEST? WE BELIEVE THAT ACTIVITY SPECIFIC APPAREL MADE IN CHINA IS THE BEST IN THE WORLD? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS IN RELATION TO KTC?
In the beginning we thought it was going to be a problem for us. That’s why we initially wanted to get our production made in Europe. But nobody in Europe was interested. With the level of technical detailing we were after, no factory in Europe had the skill set either. I still don’t think that a lot of consumers understand that technical apparel made in China is pretty much unbeatable and sign of top level quality. A lot of of brands don’t really talk about it openly, although I expect they will in time.
What KTC is doing is really impressive, world beating. There really isn’t that much they can do better. There are no issues with quality; no issues with sizing and there can be no debate about their experience. You would be hard pushed to find someone better.
We also love the fact that KTC is associated with the Fair Labor Association. It was the first clothing factory to get accredited. It changed its system to get the accreditation. It says a lot about them.