The natural hydrophobic (water hating) tendency of many polymers has been exploited to great effect in the production of rain resistant apparel and accessories for many years. The convenience of carrying something that is lightweight, weather resistant, and that can be packed away when not in use, is an overarching feature of all these examples.
The canopy of an umbrella (1) has traditionally been made from a variety of textile fibres, but a common material of choice for its ability to repel water is polyamide, better known as nylon. The strong and lightweight nature of the fabric enables it to be folded when not in use.
The unpredictability of the English weather makes the pack-ability of a shower-proof garment a desirable feature. Lightweight and foldable the use of a pack-away outer garment has long been a notable feature of a day out. The nylon Pakamac (2) was a popular phenomenon in the UK in the early post WW2 era. Pakamacs were usually sold with a storage pouch made from the same material and were marketed as the 'Raincoat in your pocket' Women's examples were often accompanied by a rain hood of the same material. Some had welded seams, pockets, button holes and buttons. This later mid-20th century example is stitched throughout and has buttons probably made of polyester. The lightweight showerproof hat (3) is also made from polyamide. It too is designed to be folded when not in use.
The 1960s Mary Quant poncho (4) with storage pouch is made from panels of brightly coloured polyvinyl chloride with welded seams for added water protection. The PVC is made soft and flexible by the addition of plasticizers, chemicals which change the nature and performance of the material. Along the same lines, but made from polyester, is the modern example of the same garment by Joules (5). Polyester fibres are extremely strong and durable. Polyester is resistant to stretching, shrinking, and mildew, and due to its hydrophobic nature is quick drying. This makes it an ideal material for such garments.