There are unwritten rules we follow in life, even more so when exploring the swampy depths of a delta, filming wild elephants and roaming lion prides, wading closer and closer. There is a code of conduct when driving across dusty plains following the call of a fish eagle or the flash of a spotted feline tail. A code among explorers.
Amelia Earhart, David Livingstone, Karen Blixen, Ernest Hemingway, Isabella Bird, Hiram Bingham… they all followed the code. While some rules are meant to be broken, there is a truth that these explorers of yesteryear knew well and elegantly adopted. That is the code of safari style, the dress-code of the roving voyager, whose journeys take them to wild and far-flung corners of the planet to seek out and bring back news and insights from another world.
The code’s essentials? Blend into your natural surroundings, marry function with form wherever possible, be adaptable, listen to the weather man, protect yourself and remember the greats before you.
Two African explorers close to our hearts are National Geographic Explorers-at-Large, Beverly and Dereck Joubert. Two of just 12 such explorers around the world with very particular duties – exploring the world in pursuit of knowledge about our planet and our lives.
“We understand exploring and the nature of expeditions,” says Dereck. “We also know that there is a need to have the right clothing and equipment, light things that you can carry, clothing that is cool in the tropics and yet elegant enough to take that special meeting, a sudden delegation of elders, or to meet the president.”
As a nod to the practical in explorer style, but also with a strong sensitivity to being stylish and feeling good, Beverly and Dereck have designed a clothing range of their own. “There are dozens of clothing options made from recycled plastics or that zip off below the knee for tourists, but this range is for the ‘traveller,’ the explorer, someone who wants to stand aside and have experiences that are hand-made, like the d&b explorer collection. And we all know that what we wear represents who we are.”
It’s a range designed for the stories that have inspired Dereck and Beverly in their own lives and travels.
A range inspired by the era of washed and faded ex-military styled gear, like that which Karen Blixen wore, and the tomboyish style of aviator, Amelia Earhart with her overalls and leather jacket, as she flew across the Atlantic and into the Pacific. Among its other muses are the images of Beryl Markham horse-riding in Kenya and soaring in her Tiger Moth over Africa, decked out in a thick leather jacket and linen safari tunic.
In the book of exploring legends, “whose spirit still inspires us all daily no matter what we do,” says Dereck, there was also Jeanne Baret, the first woman to circumnavigate the Earth. An explorer who disguised herself as a man, breasts bound, as a valet to Admiral Louis-Antoine de Bougainville with 300 men on board in 1766. No woman should have to masquerade as a man to achieve her goal, Dereck says.
The d&b explorer collection features pieces for male and female travellers, conscious of providing for the women explorers who can more than match their male counterparts. Women like Beverly, like Isabella Bird (the first woman to sail from Britain to America), like Lady Florence Baker.
Originally in chains, destined to be sold to a prince in the Ottoman Empire, Florence’s destiny was transformed when she met one Sir Samuel. The couple married and took to exploring Central Africa and the Nile. Florence was as comfortable as any man on a camel, mule, and horse. And she knew her way around pistols and rifles. Rather than Victorian style, she went for a feminine version of a military officer’s uniform. “Their story embodies the romance of this era and a love story that parallels our own (not that Beverly was ever a slave!),” says Dereck.
The collection speaks to something greater than garments or fashion. It is a call to life, a push to be the heroes in our own narrative, through a style and art that has been tried and tested, designed by the most intrepid explorers in history.
The range feeds our dream to see the world and to experience life fully – the earth’s remote spaces, wild faces, and different ways of life. Through films and books, poetry and faded images from the past, the clothes of the collection speak to the dreams of our childhood – when we first learnt of and looked up to the likes of Livingstone, Stanley and Hemingway.
“They encourage us to be explorers again, even if just for a day, week or month,” says Dereck.
Is it sustainable?
The range has been designed with ethics in mind, with the philosophy what drives Dereck and Beverly in all that they do.
“We like linen, Belgian usually, some French and Italian, just for the waxiness that holds the garment in place a little better. Linen is designed to crease and still look good. Each needs to be robust enough to use on safari as well, in muted colors, with a look that sends you back to the bush chic of the 1920’s.”
Linen is one of the most biodegradable and stylish fabrics in fashion history. It is strong, naturally moth resistant, and made from flax plant fibres, so when untreated (i.e. not dyed) it is fully biodegradable. That means beautiful natural colours like ivory, ecru, tan and grey. Linen can withstand high temperatures – making the fabric generally perfect for raiding the jungle or lounging on a tropical island. It absorbs moisture without holding bacteria. In fact, it is actually stronger when wet than dry and becomes softer and more pliable the more it is washed.
Read more about the ethics of the fibres used here >
Is it ethical?
- We ensure equal and fair representation of all involved, from the inception to completion.
- Insuring the importance of every person in this process is recognised as a vital and valuable part of this process and is treated with respect and dignity.
- We endeavour to respect and uphold the human rights of our employees and independent contractors; provide reasonable steps to promote equal opportunity in the workplace by eliminating all forms of unfair discrimination in any employment policy or practice.
- Work environments that are free from harassment in all forms. Strictly follow current child labour legislation and ensure that working hours, wages, overtime pay and annual leave comply with current laws.
- As much as possible support is drawn from the local community of talent, skills and craftsmanship to foster sustainable communities and socio-economic development.
“I hope that you find something here that tells your story for you,” Dereck says. Whether it’s the Hemingway Writer’s Shirt and Jean Barret Stretch Pants for boarding a small aircraft to fly into the Maasai Mara. Or a Beryl Hood Top and Livingstone Jacket to keep warm on photographic night drives through the Okavango Delta. And an Amelia Knit Dress with the Blixen Rope Belt to slip into for G&Ts after an intrepid day out on the Zambezi.
Online shopping with a touch of generosity
Shop online for your own items from the d&b explorer collection and for every item purchased, Beverly and Dereck Joubert will donate $10 to the Great Plains Foundation, which is committed to creating a bright future for some of the most endangered wildlife, fragile ecosystems, and remote communities in the world.
Follow the collection on Instagram for more inspiration.
Contact: Telephone: +27 (0)10 900 4701 ~ Email: email@example.com