There is a (very cool) new face in town…
You remember that scene where James Bond emerges from the sea in full scuba gear and steps out of his wetsuit to reveal perfect evening dress, ready to make ladies swoon at the roulette table? Fiction, of course. And yet that’s what Marc Blees has set out to achieve with his new Code-Zero brand of clothing.
A great sailor in his own right, one of the best Finn and Star competitors to emerge from the Netherlands in recent years, Blees has also produced clothing for many big-name fashion brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and O’Neill. Closer to home he has been pivotal in the development of Gaastra Pro as a successful marine brand. In launching Code-Zero he brought together his two passions for fashion and sailing. The challenge he set his designers was to create apparel that was tough enough and reliable enough to go racing in utmost comfort and without compromise, while at the end of the day you could step ashore and straight into the restaurant without changing and without embarrassment. Even 007 had to change before entering the casino.
‘It’s very difficult to make great sailing gear and great casual gear into one garment, and I don’t believe we have any competition because we are talking about two very different worlds,’ says Blees.
‘There is no crossover between the marine technical apparel manufacturers in the sailing world, and world-famous fashion brands like Scotch & Soda, Tommy Hilfiger and Superdry. They don’t know how to make taped garments capable of standing up to the demands of life on the water. That’s what we know how to do, but what we want to do now is make technical clothing that you’d be proud to wear anywhere, not just in the marina.’
So Code-Zero operates at the intersection of these two very different worlds and is turning heads both on and off the water. In its first year on the racing circuit Code-Zero clothing was already being worn on a number of high-profile boats including Rambler 88, the Maxi72, Jethou, the 100-footer Blackjack and the TP52 Quantum Racing. These are not the kind of campaigns to compromise on quality or performance. First and foremost, the clothing has to deliver on the technical demands, and if it looks good enough to wear for aprèssailing, well, that’s a very nice bonus.
Professional sailors are not easily impressed, nor are their wives! But Will McCarthy scored brownie points for wearing Code-Zero last season. ‘I have been fortunate enough to be using Code-Zero gear both on Rambler 88 and Blackjack and have been very impressed,’ he says. ‘Their clothes are very functional on the yacht, but also look fashionable. It is the first time in 20 years of pro sailing that I have come home with some new crew gear that met the approval of my wife to be worn socially. ‘What I am very happy with is the material being used in their products. Not only is it of very high quality, it is also very comfortable and functional. I honestly have to rate the Luff shorts as the best I have ever used. They are light, have enough stretch in the fabric, are quick drying and look great.
What is refreshing about this new brand and sets it apart is the quality and the fact it actually looks good. The other thing is Code-Zero are also approaching the sailors for feedback and are always making improvements. They’re very responsive like that.’
While Blees is proud to have kitted out such high-quality race teams with everything they need from head to toe, it’s the crossover products like the Luff shorts and the Gibe jacket in particular that excite him most of all.
America’s Cup legend Brad Butterworth is another professional who is impressed with how Code- Zero have been so successful out of the gate. ‘I have been using Code-Zero from the start and in particular the Gibe jacket. I have been sailing with it all season and just finished the Sydney-Hobart on Blackjack with the Gibe going strong. I’d be happy to recommend the Code-Zero gear to anyone.’
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