Kilian’s Mary Kay Bahner with the Blunt Classic umbrella. (Photo by Jeremy Jones)

Kilian’s Mary Kay Bahner with the Blunt Classic umbrella. (Photo by Jeremy Jones)

by Jeremy Jones

If it weren’t for the merchandising perspicacity of Kilian Hardware owner Russell Goudy Jr., you would have to travel to Princeton or New York to purchase the hottest new umbrella on the market. The Blunt Design Group calls its groundbreaking innovation “revolution not evolution.” The Wall Street Journal says, “Structurally, the Blunt falls somewhere between suspension bridge and NASA space probe.”

We’ve come a long way in 3,000 years. The birth of the umbrella’s prototype – the parasol – was in ancient Egypt. A palm leaf served to protect nobility and royalty from sunlight to ensure flawless skin tone. In 11th century BC China, the first waterproof umbrella was made of leather, and when steady trade routes were established in the early part of the second millennia, the non-waterproof sun-protecting parasols found their way to Greece and Rome where, again, they were used almost exclusively by high-born females.

By the 1750’s, the umbrella, or “portable roof,” was a common sight in Paris. The tradition of being used primarily by women continued until noted English nobleman Jonas Hanway started carrying more sturdy and “manly” umbrellas at public appearances. His insistence on being accompanied by an umbrella wherever he went, rain or shine, gave rise to the transition from necessity to accessory – closed umbrella in hand, tip down.

London, 1999. After a rain-pelting crowded commute, 6’ 2” design engineer Greig Brebner had had it with being poked in the face by sharp umbrella spires and wind inverted umbrella canopies. Armed with a glue gun and kite material, he sat down at his kitchen table and began tinkering. Little did he know he was about to redefine the umbrella industry.

Ten years in the making, the Blunt’s unflappable aerodynamic structure sits effortlessly in the wind and provides ultimate control. Armed with carbon fiber spires, it performs and functions in test wind tunnels with gusts of more than 80 miles per hour. As the Blunt canopy unfurls, the additional double struts redirect the user’s effort into specially designed floating ribs which reach out like fingers stretching into a glove. They transfer the opening force into the patented Blunt tips on the end of each rib. The tips then open like miniature umbrellas in their specially designed pockets, evenly distributing the tension directly to the edge, where it is most needed.

With an inventory of over 30,000 items, Kilian’s rarely disappoints when it comes to providing customers with the tried and true, but they are also always one step ahead in satisfying and forecasting customer needs.

“I had so many complaints about umbrellas,” Goudy said, which led to his research on the Blunt brand. “Too many folks coming in, saying, ‘I just bought this yesterday and it’s falling apart.’ Blunt has taken something lightweight and fragile that’s destructible, and made something lightweight and indestructible.”

Kilian’s carries the Blunt umbrella in two sizes and a rainbow of colors. The Blunt Classic retails for $79.99. The Blunt XS Metro is $49.99. Why go to Princeton or New York, when you can get it right here in Chestnut Hill!

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