The month before winter sets in is the busiest time of year for any tailor. Everybody starts coming in for their adjustments; getting pants loosened to adjust for weight gains, getting cloaks refit or filled with extra padding and buying up our stock of Puddlejumpers. Of course, we spend all year working on our Puddlejumper supply. Especially tailors like myself, close enough to Toft that I have to stock the Yellows, and far enough away that the Iceguts still rely on us for their basics inlays to cover with their own special additions. Those additions are also why no self-respecting tailor accepts Puddlejumper returns. Iceguts toss all sorts of horrifying things on theirs, and anybody else just didn't plan ahead for their use of the product. Watching those jumpers come splashing through town all clad in their yellows and browns really does make it all worth it.
Puddlejumper Robes, known colloquially as Puddlejumpers, are sets of high durability winter clothes made to hold up to the abuses of childish play and adventure in the frozen wilds. The eponymous activity is the most common cultural depiction of the outfit and what the outfits are designed to most withstand. These outfits are the first real set of winter clothes provided to those children for the winter before their eighth birthday. In Renai, the eighth birthday is culturally recognized as the time in which a child should have gained enough maturity to be allowed to leave their home on their own. The giving of a set of puddlejumpers almost always precedes the celebration of The First Snow giving children a mandate to go out and find the patches of solid snow that would prove that the weather has finally turned and winter is approaching. It's a rare child that doesn't receive a set of Puddlejumpers. Even those whose families can't provide the specific styles are often given a set by the Standards they attend or passed-down by other members of the community. This widespread adoption by Renan Halflings and Humans have kept the tradition as a cultural mainstay for hundreds of years. Skilled artisans across the country maintain the standards that define the basics of what a Puddlejumper is. Warmth is always an emphasis, but so is the ability to deflect water and keep their wearer dry in the face of dealing with heavy snow and rain. This has resulted in various styles becoming common across the classes of Renai.
Puddlejumper Robes by Selīna Lindberga
In the depths of the Frost Shield, the more rural reaches of The Coast of Lights and the barren craigs of the Draconic Range, puddlejumpers are typically fashioned from excess skins of slain animals. Rarely, they will be interwoven with the preternaturally hot scales of dead Frost Wyrms. These are typically fashioned by close family or skilled members of the small communities that make up the outskirts of Renan society. In these areas, the puddlejumper is ubiquitous. Every child receives one and the quality is held as a matter of life and death, making the puddlejumper a common item to be passed through many generations.
In urban centers like Toft, Moldatun and Eske, the puddlejumper has become a mass-manufactured item. An industry has surrounded the production chain by creating easier and cheaper versions of the robes that bear a distinctive yellow color and are extremely efficient at deflecting water and cold. However, these robes are not high quality and often a child will go through four to five in a winter. However, due to a functional monopoly on the production and design of the items, the supply is never made to the demand that urban cities and people need. This defines the robes as a direct status symbol for those that make up the urban middle class.
The higher class members of Renai; such as those that occupy positions in the Renai Revenge Court, the Polar Court, or just higher positions in the Beauracracy find the mass-market appeal of the yellow middle class puddlejumpers to be detestable. Instead, they fall back on rural ideals while emphasizing their wealth in their designs. This has resulted in a class of high quality craftsmen dedicated to fashioning Puddlejumpers from rare materials like Bulette hide, Dragon scales and other items. The quality and rarity of these designs and materials affirm the superiority of the higher classes over the masses while still showing the unique ways that a Royal can be distinguished in contrast to their peers.
Many children view the receiving of their Puddlejumpers and their first active participation in the First Snow as the first major threshold on their journey to adulthood. This is reflected in local societal expectations with a child wearing Puddlejumpers rarely being accosted outside of their home and generally blending into the background of the late fall and winter populace. As a child wearing their puddlejumper is expected to have the maturity and the knowledge to manage the basics of their own survival.
Emblem of Maturity
Cover image: Puddlejumper Robes by Selīna Lindberga