With the Spere Tech Wool blazer and pants, Arc’teryx Veilance has gone on with the Spere pieces’ boxier cut while introducing a new material into the mix.
These two pieces, going together as yet another “suiting” option from Veilance for fall/winter – and another such entry to the Spere line after the Spere LT “suit” for spring/summer – are a case in point for the need to see for oneself if something fits for a person or not in Arc’teryx Veilance’s continual ranging through classical menswear silhouettes.
That applies not only with regards to the cuts, but also the materials and their properties, all the more so as the marketing copy for Veilance can be outright misleading.
The description reads that these pieces have “the look and feel of wool”… but they don’t. Not really. Their performance, however – when used in the right conditions – is fantastic.
Let’s go for a closer look and see what the Spere tech wool blazer and pants are really about.
Full disclosure: For once, Arc’teryx marketing provided me with these two pieces at no cost to me, without any conditions or influence.
The Spere Line and the Spere Tech Wool Blazer’s Cut
The Spere line from Veilance, first introduced in spring/summer 2022 (well, 2021 when it comes to jacket and hoodie), is comprised of rather more relaxed pieces than Veilance has been known for.
The Spere LT Blazer made that particularly obvious in its boxier, wider cut and with its shorter lapel, closing with three buttons.
Earlier Veilance blazers and other models close with only two buttons and have a deeper/longer lapel.
Shorter Lapels, Boxier Look
The tech wool Spere blazer (not LT as it’s not a light summer piece of clothing) shares the same three (snap-)button closure underneath a shorter lapel.
That alone gives it much of the boxier look, but the cut itself also seems to be less long and slender than other Veilance blazers.
Aside from the short lapels and boxier look, the cut is still a pretty classical blazer cut and a typical Veilance cut in its simplicity, with the outside pockets integrated right at the seams.
This Spere blazer is missing the ability to fold up and snap closed the lapels and does not have the small pocket that some Veilance blazers hide underneath the right lapel.
The shorter lapels, while they also wouldn’t lend themselves to that approach, do however stay up well when folded up and might protect the area around the upper breastbone better than the snapped-closed lapels of those other blazers (which tend to bend open in this area).
That’s a very niche use case, but one of those that made me like the Veilance approach to blazers particularly well.
The Blazer’s Pocketing
The blazer features the usual two outside pockets, nicely – but therefore, horizontally – integrated with the seam so as to disappear from the silhouette.
This makes it easy to put one’s hands in, if so desired, but it also makes these pockets insecure for anything put in.
For secure storage, the blazer has two zippered pockets inside, one left and one right.
Unlike on most Veilance blazers, both the Spere Tech Wool blazer’s inside pockets are sized pretty much the same, at a size that is fine for a passport or a (small) wallet, but tight for a smartphone.
While I really like the three-button closure of the Spere blazer in terms of looks, it is a peculiar choice in terms of functionality.
Most blazers from Veilance use Cobrax slide-lock buttons. These can be a little finicky to slide open, but generally work very well.
The Spere Tech Wool blazer simply uses snap buttons. These are easy to close and open – but if you don’t go for a totally relaxed (loose) size, the top button is also easy to open accidentally while reaching up for something.
The Spere Tech Wool Pants
The Spere tech wool pants also feature a roomier fit, with legs that are among the widest of Veilance pants.
On the pants, both front and back pockets exist and are slanted at an angle, integrated into the overall look in a way that is very typical for Veilance.
On the Spere pants, the back pockets lack a flap that closes them at the top, however.
It all looks very sharp, but these pockets are decidedly not secure.
Loose change or even a minimalist wallet can easily slip out; one should be aware of that shortcoming.
“Suit” Pants with a Drawcord Fastening, no Belt Loops
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the Spere tech wool pants is the closure.
There are no belt loops – very unusual for a “suit” pants. Rather, waist adjustment is done by way of an internal drawcord that needs to be knotted to the desired length.
The Tech Wool Material
The various Spere LT pieces employ(ed) Terratex, a much-used staple among the Arc’teryx Veilance collection; the tech wool of the Spere and various other pieces of and after fall/winter 2022/23 is a new material – and one that has seen very mixed reception.
Arc’teryx’ copy, in a rather typically misleading way, describes the tech wool material as having the look and feel of wool, but that isn’t it.
Earlier / Other Wool in Veilance Blazers
Tech wool sounds a lot like the material earlier employed on the Haedn collection from Veilance (not to be confused with the superfine merino of the newer Haedn LT), but it isn’t the same.
The old Haedn pieces were made from a heathered, felt-like wool backed with synthetic material; the Haedn LT pieces are made from a superfine merino that already feels rather stronger than the material description may lead one to thinking… and the techwool of the Spere feels stronger and harder again.
The Tech Wool
If you didn’t read about the wool content somewhere, you would probably believe tech wool to be a softshell of whatever other kind, but probably nothing made with wool.
At the same time, there is quite something of a look akin to a woven wool textile as one would find it in more classical (non-performance?) blazers and suiting.
Veilance copy also seems to be moving towards a description of the material as a softshell combining natural and synthetic materials, and pointing to the softshell characteristics of this tech wool helps a lot.
Misled expectations aside, I found a lot to like about the Spere “suit.”
The Performance and Wear
Veilance has always described itself as performance clothing, and that’s a main draw – when it delivers.
The Spere tech wool blazer and pants are rather typical Veilance in that regard. The cut and look are minimalistic, the material promises a lot… and the first wear is likely not as expected.
Actual wear, however, can be quite convincing. For me, with the Spere, it was.
The first time trying on the Spere Tech Wool blazer and pants is strange.
Coming from an expectation of something wool-like, especially thinking of the Haedn LT, the material feels hard and plasticky and off.
Warm conditions are not good for this material, so a quick try-on in a heated showroom or apartment can also give a not altogether positive impression.
Trying out the Spere Tech Wool suit about town, on cool winter days, it isn’t clammy or plasticky anymore, but it turns out not to be too warm all by itself; some layering and/or accessorizing are necessary.
With that awareness in mind, I took this “suit” for a family trip, baby and dog in tow, by overnight train to a rainy and relatively cold pre-Christmas Florence.
With a thin undershirt and a shirt, the blazer, and a scarf and cap or hat, the tech wool Spere blazer alone was enough to protect from the lower temperatures and soft but insistent rain.
A scarf alone makes for better protection without taking too much away from the look; snapping up the lapels into the look of a stand-up collar and binding a scarf over the neck does even more for protection.
The tech wool Spere pants were enough for me all by themselves. Interesting about them is how they can feel plasticky from the wool softshell material (and some people have reported feeling in them like in a plastic bag), but I found them less odd than the Haedn LT pants’ seam tape on the wool material (which makes for a contrast in feeling that I register as strange, plastic-like and cold).
I was warm enough outside without overheating in crowded, heated restaurants, never got wet – and always looked sharp.
Not a wrinkle, not a sloppy look – and I had already slept in those clothes on the train there.
The dog did regularly have to get onto my arm and left some hair, but its wet paws didn’t leave much of a trace, its claws didn’t affect the material the slightest, the added wetness didn’t push through the material.
You clearly have to have the right layering and the right conditions; this is neither light nor insulated clothing by itself, and it is obviously a “suit” for transitional conditions.
For the right conditions and use, however, this is some of the sharpest and best performing among Veilance’s many sharp-looking and nicely-performing pieces.