A buy-for-life… umbrella?
One rainy day in 1999, engineering graduate Greig Brebner was walking down a busy street in London.
In between dodging spikey umbrella tips which always seemed to be at his eye level, he saw bins full of discarded brollies. These cheap throwaway items were often bought, broken and binned in the space of one downpour. Realising that there was a huge opportunity to do better, Greig became obsessed with creating an umbrella that could stand the test of time.
It took years of development and countless prototypes to create it: the Blunt Umbrella. Today, over a million have been sold in countries all over the world.
When a product is that successful, whilst retailing for five to ten times the price of its competitors, you wonder - what exactly sets it apart?
Let's delve into the technical stuff.
Why are most umbrellas so useless?
We’ve all had run-ins with cheap, flimsy umbrellas. Each time we buy one - usually when we get caught short in a downpour - we know they’re headed for the bin. All it will take is a particularly sharp gust of wind.
There are two main design flaws in disposable umbrellas:
- Firstly, the canopy material is not pulled tightly over the frame. A floppy canopy on a weak frame is little more than a rag on a stick, flapping in the wind. But pulled tight, this would create a solid structure.
- Secondly, umbrellas come under the most stress at their edges. Traditional brollies also happen to be weakest at their tips, where the canopy is fastened. This is why the fabric often detaches from the edge.
The Blunt Tip™
Greig Brebner’s breakthrough came when he invented the ingenious patented Blunt Tip™, which eliminated both of these weak points. The tips of the Blunt umbrella unfold like mini umbrellas themselves, within little pockets at the canopy edge. Like every component of the Blunt umbrella, they serve multiple purposes:
- Firstly, they create a super-strong, fully tensioned structure. By transferring force from the stretched canopy into the rim, the tension is distributed where it is most needed.
- Secondly, these tips eliminate any high-stress weak points, by spreading the force around the entire circumference.
- And thirdly, they create the iconic Blunt silhouette, making the umbrellas instantly recognisable. No poked eyes here.
The Blunt’s tight canopy creates a stable shape for wind to flow across it. It’s also a little flatter than your average brolly, making it yet more aerodynamic. All this ensures you’re not fighting with a flapping, rattling brolly in a gusty downpour, but instead protected by a strong and sturdy canopy.
A tougher frame
The Blunt’s frame is full of more clever engineering. Its extra reinforcing elements serve multiple purposes, to add strength whilst staying lightweight. The materials have been specially chosen to withstand the wide variety of stresses an umbrella endures. This all results in an umbrella that’s strong enough to endure a lifetime of wear and tear.
Blunt Umbrellas are also resistant to turning inside out, and will only do so under pretty harsh conditions. If this does happen, they can simply be flipped back without any harm coming to the umbrella’s structure.
High manufacturing standards
Every single Blunt undergoes a rigorous quality control check before being sent to its final destination. Manufactured responsibly near Xiamen in China, Blunt Umbrellas are produced in a factory that was originally set up by a famous German umbrella maker. Today, the factory is run by a Taiwanese company that has specialised in umbrellas for over 50 years.
Blunt chose this factory for their stellar international reputation for quality - and it shows. Working towards the highest manufacturing standards, Blunt work closely with their partners, to ensure a zero compromise approach.
Repair over replace
Designing something to last isn't just about strength - repairability is an important feature of these umbrellas. Blunt sell replacement parts on their website, so you can try fixing yours at home. But if you'd rather leave it to the experts, you can send yours off to get repaired by their engineers.
Blunt offer an impressive two year free repairs warranty on their umbrellas as standard. And years down the line, if your umbrella breaks out of warranty, repairs by Blunt come at a very fair price.
The business model of the umbrella world relies on repeat purchases. In other words, you’ll spend more money on something you have to keep replacing. Umbrellas are a classic case of planned obsolescence, which creates a highly frustrating customer experience. And from an environmental perspective, what could be more irresponsible than mass producing products that are destined for landfill?
Blunt are disrupting an industry that is heavily dependent on us buying items for short-term use. Investing in an umbrella that will last for years is a small way in which we can make more considered purchases. And - you'll never have to chuck another brolly in the bin again.