You may not be aware, but before we gave attention to HEMA and SPES Histfenc was established, since 1999 we had been concerned with historical reenactment. It might not be visible from a customer’s perspective, but for us, as a manufacturer, this experience was extremely helpful. Knight fighting tournaments, including bohurt, helped us in understanding the role of proper protection; not only in terms of safety, however it is still crucial.
Among the fact that we were manufacturing reenactment gear, Andrzej was busied with historical and protective clothing on the academic side, as fashion historian.
As part of leading manufacturer of HEMA equipment, I would like to share my view on some gear. I have 4 thoughts; kind of guidelines and rules which become a base during process of creating every of SPES HEMA clothing for 10 years now. You can use these as tips to choose the best possible HEMA gear during shopping.
4 basic features of good HEMA gear
The secret of our success comes mainly from passion and experience on the field. To keep in short, we have decided to create HEMA gear we would like to use personally. It looks beautiful, but how to achieve it? What a HEMAist should pay special attention to?
1. Safety first
This is beyond dispute – HEMA equipment MUST increase the level of protection during swordfights. The case is serious, so we decided on scientific approach. As you may have noticed, we use a high quality fabrics of 350N or 800N puncture resistance certificate. You will find more about this in post about safety.
Still, it is worth to remind that we can say proudly that our products are certified by independent research units and I believe that users should pay special attention to this issue during shopping. Is it worth to risk your health, paying less for counterfeits of doubtful quality, without proper tests? I’m going to leave the answer to you.
As a result of specific purposes of clothing the level of protection and Newtons may differ in each item.
2. Freedom of movement during HEMA duel
HEMA is a very broad term comprising both more manual sabre fighting and longsword fighting using a lot of strength. Thus, a sabre does not require extra weight in form of plastic guards or amortization layers. For me, the basic question before designing an equipment should be: what will be its purpose?
We always try to give our customers a few extra “points” over their rivals. Even in heavy HEMA equipment, we use breathable lining, adjustable straps, or options of modifications. Still, I believe that the main aspect for freedom of movement during duel is proper design & cut of HEMA clothing. One giving a wearer possibilities of taking different positions and making various attacks, with no fear of a jacket going up and revealing a belly, or pants tearing in crotch.
Proper fitting of HEMA clothing is equally important. However, this is the role of a user and if he measured himself correctly. If a standard size chart is not enough, SPES Histfenc gives you an option of customization.
3. Modularity – match HEMA gear to your needs
It seems that there’s not many HEMAists focusing only on one type of arm. And even if, in future one may become interested in other challenges or just change training intensity. I’m aware that HEMA is an expensive hobby and required HEMA equipment takes plenty of space. What can we do with this problem?
By choosing modularity and wide range of modifications of HEMA gear. For example, “Hussar” jacket can be easily devoid of inner foams and outer plastic covers, keeping it just as strong 800N fabric with quilting. Super light “Officer” can become more protective by mounting “Shell” guards, “Geko” forearm protectors, and a body protector or a padded skirt.
We want to give our customers an easy way of completing a set of HEMA clothing, so in SPES webshop you will also find mask overlays, gloves, or all-purpose HEMA pants. And if you need more tips on completing your HEMA gear, take a look at our previous post.
4. Functionality of HEMA clothing
Last point, which can be easily forgotten in the face of such dynamically evolving branch, is functionality. HEMA is changing, needs of HEMAists are changing, but equipment… not always.
I understand functionality as HEMA gear which is user-friendly – having upgraded level of amortization, but also using breathable fabrics, absorbing less moisture, and lighter as a whole.
There’s a reason why we cooperate with swordmasters and fencing schools for 10 years now. Feedback from users gives us an opportunity to constant development. For example, that’s the main reason we upgraded our “Lobster” heavy gloves, eliminating their weakest point and giving their users chance of an easy upgrade with thumb caps. Legendary “AP” 350N was regularly upgraded in the course of time. Currently, we are filling a gap in HEMA market by creating new, light 800N HEMA clothing, starting with “Officer” Level 2 jacket and “Dragonfly” Level 2 pants.
That’s the SPES way. Still, if you see here any room for improvement or I forgot about anything important, please leave a comment below. In the end, our mission is sustainable development of HEMA and the best possible HEMA clothing.