I tested it (The J1-E GT Acronym jacket) extensively before using it on assignments. I ran a 10k in the rain, sat on the back of a speed boat in high surf for about two hours, took it out in the snow, and shooting in the high desert. By the end of that week I was blown away how watertight it was but more so how much breathability had improved in a decade, it felt lighter than wearing a T-Shirt.
GORE-TEX Studio: This one is getting harder and harder these days - but how would you describe yourself in 1 sentence max?
Robert Spangle: I am a photographer and a designer.
GORE-TEX Studio: Tell us a bit about your city’s climate. What are your three favorite spots - in the summer, in the winter (outside)? What is your favorite method of transportation and why? How do you prep for bad weather if you spend time outside?
Robert Spangle: I live in Los Angeles, which while everyone thinks of the sun I value for the fact you can go from the beach, to downtown, to the snow capped Angeles forest in the space of about two hours.
My work has me traveling most of the time, so my favorite places would be global. London will always be charming in the winter, it’s a city that looks right in the rain and it makes for great lighting. Tokyo in the spring is the perfect temperature for a 24/h city. Malibu, where I was born, is still my favorite place to be in the summer, and if that's not an option anywhere else I can swim daily.
My favorite form of transportation is anything I haven’t tried yet. I got to fly in a seaplane this past summer, that was a lifelong dream. I have a minor obsession with trains, especially long distance routes. A motorcycle is however my favorite way to explore a country. At home I have an old Mercedes convertible, which is great for long trips up the coast or out to the desert.
For weather I plan for the extremes, water is always something I have to avoid because of cameras and likewise carry for hydration. I avoid getting overly specialized, and focus on flexible layers. As a rule, no matter where I am going I pack a GORE-TEX Acronym Jacket, a bathing suit, and boots I can hike and ride in.
GORE-TEX Studio: Tell us a bit about your professional life and do you draw a hard line between private/professional? What were your most memorable moments professionally, your biggest achievements?
Robert Spangle: I work as a photographer, both editorial and photojournalism, covering everything from street style to conflicts, following my own interests and theories. I also have my own small brand that I design for: Observer Collection. I design for other professionals who travel well and often and it is both informed and tested by my photography work.
I think If I separated the professional from the personal I’d be separating the passions, too, and it would just feel like “work”.
I think what stands out the most to me is the incredible people I have gotten to meet through my work, the cultures I've been able to experience and history I've gotten to document. I think photographing the 40th anniversary issue of Popeye magazine was affirming. It’s a magazine I loved before I even owned a camera. It’s been great working with brands I've admired for such a long time like Leica, BMW Mottorrad, and Berluti. The work I take pride in is the work I feel I learned the most from, and was able to share that knowledge with others: Afghanistan for Esquire, Calcio Storico Fighters for Esquire Singapore, Riots for GQ UK and Achtung! writing about my experience with wildfires for the New York Times.
GORE-TEX Studio: What are you wearing today, why are you wearing it, did you have a particular weather scenario in mind when choosing this piece? What do you love most about your GORE-TEX product?
Robert Spangle: J1-E GT by Acronym, cargo pants from Fireforce Ventures, Cowboy boots from Barbanera. This is a great go-to-field outfit for heavy weather with a lot of physical movement involved. The white color is good for visibility if you need that (out at sea, riding a bike at night etc.) but in the snow or sand it blends in pretty well, and I've dusted it with spray paint to make it a little less glaring. What I really love about this latest GORE-TEX fabric is the breathability; you can wear this in the summer heat and it’s no different than wearing a T-Shirt. The jacket itself is a Sisyphean work of applied genius from Acronym. I can carry, protect, deploy and stow everything I could possibly need, and go from a dead sprint, to riding a bike, to hours of shooting in hail without issue.
J-56 GT by Acronym, cargo pants from Fireforce Ventures,GORE-TEX hiking boots from Danner. The J-56 GT is my newest Acronym jacket. Based on the classic military m-65 It fits well with the rest of my wardrobe and offers an absurd amount of storage space. I can easily fit an entire camera in the chest pocket, which is great for assignments where I need to conceal a camera, or carry a backup. The lightness of the GORE-TEX PRO fabric really stands out on this jacket, you almost need to load out all the pockets just to remember your wearing it. I've worn Danner boots since my days in the Marines, they have kept me sure footed and dry through everything from motorcycle crashes, to reconnaissance missions and hiking in Switzerland.
J-68 PL by Acronym, denim by Observer Collection, Loafers by Morjas. I’ve worn this exact same outfit all over the world. The GORE-TEX Infinium Windstopper fabric is both water shedding and insanely warm and comfortable. I've slept in it at least three times. It’s so versatile it’s hard not to pack a warm stand alone jacket or an even warmer liner for my other Acronym pieces… That said, it's also a sharp classic silhouette in an urban grey, worn with loafers and jeans. I can just as easily go out for dinner as I can ride across a dangerous town in bad weather.
GORE-TEX Studio: Where and when did you get this… Do you have any special memories connected to this item? If you could go anywhere, where would you like to take this piece?
Robert Spangle: The J1-E GT was my first non military GORE-TEX jacket, so it had been nearly 10 years since I’d last worn GORE-TEX.
I tested it extensively before using it on assignments. I ran a 10k in the rain, sat on the back of a speed boat in high surf for about two hours, took it out in the snow, and shooting in the high desert. By the end of that week I was blown away how watertight it was but more so how much breathability had improved in a decade, it felt lighter than wearing a T-Shirt. The J1-E really proved its worth in one scenario in Kabul: I had to bike across town in the twilight of morning, it was hailing, it had rained enough he previous days that the open sewers had flooded over. I spent the entire day taking photos in dry comfort, washed myself down with a hose at the days end, shook off the jacket and went back to it the following day.
If I could take it anywhere I’d take it skiing in northern Japan.
GORE-TEX Studio: How do you define the term “comfort” in clothing, in particular technical apparel?
Robert Spangle: Comfort for me means no resistance, at it’s best a design feels like an extension of your own body, forgotten but enhanced. More than just a physical feeling, comfort is confidence in the performance, adaptability and quality of a design, it’s materials and construction. Comfort also has an element of security to it for me, much of what I love about my GORE-TEX Acronym designs is their ability to simultaneously camouflage and project professionalism. There is a comfort in knowing I can handle the worst weather or most grueling physical demands without concern.
GORE-TEX Studio: Tell us about your current and upcoming projects… what are you looking for in the next six months and what challenges do you see that you’re excited about?
Robert Spangle: I am excited to be working on my first photography book, which should take me back to the Middle East to finish. Likewise I am very excited to see Asia open for travel again, I've missed traveling there quite a lot these last two years.