All About Umbrellas

All About Umbrellas



Umbrellas throughout history

Umbrellas weren’t always an everyday item like they are today. In fact, throughout much of human history they weren’t even used as protective tools against inclement weather but rather only as parasols, offering protection first and foremost from the sun.

Along with their intended use to protect you against the elements, umbrellas and parasols also had prominent roles in various world cultures as religious and status symbols.

Umbrellas in the Ancient World

Egypt

It is no wonder that the first recorded use of parasols comes from Ancient Egypt. Parasols were in use as early as 3500 BC and were simple in construction and design. Already keeping up with the traditional umbrella shape, Egyptian parasols were made of a wooden body (stick) and a canopy made out of palm leaves.

It was used by kings, queens and religious leaders and soon became a status symbol because it enabled the person carrying it to remain pale-skinned, a sign of nobility.

The shape of the rounded canopy of the parasol may have been heavily influenced by Ancient Egyptian beliefs about the sky and the earth. The sky was said to be made of the body of the goddess Nut who arched over the god of earth Geb, touching the land only with her fingers and toes.

Depiction of goddess Nut and god Geb. Source: Google Image Search

China

The waterproofing of parasols and thus the invention of the first umbrella can be attributed to the Chinese around 1100 BC.

The first materials used for making umbrellas were silk and later paper. They were made waterproof by using way or lacquer to coat the canopy, the wooden shaft and the handle (often made of bamboo).

 

An example of modern paper parasols

The first rudimentary opening and closing mechanism for umbrellas also originates in China, suggesting that this technology that we still use today existed as early as 600 BC.

Parasols and umbrellas in Ancient China were also used as a status symbol by the wealthy and the noble. Certain colors (red and yellow) were reserved for the royals while the common people wore blue parasols.

India

Parasols were also used in India around 1100 BC (same as in China).

There is anecdotal evidence about the use and symbolic meaning of parasols in Indian culture available from the recounts of several wealthy European merchants. It seems that umbrellas were often found in royal courts as decoration. It was also common for princes and kings to have special members of the royal staff whose sole role was to carry often large and heavy parasols for them.

 

Painting by Raja Ravi Varma (1848 - 1906) showing Hindu dieties. Source: Pinterest

Greece and Rome

Parasols were used in Greece as early as 500 BC. They were initially reserved for women only, but as time passed men started using them as well.

As is most often the case in other cultures, too, carrying a parasol was considered a sign of wealth and was tied closely to the style of dress of the nobility.

They were also used in several religious rituals.

In Ancient Rome, parasols were also used mostly by women. They were passed on to the Romans either by the Greek (from one of their many colonies) or the Etruscan.

Just like in Egypt, carrying a parasol to ensure your skin remains pale signaled wealth and a high degree of womanliness. It was also considered a great honor for a servant to carry a parasol for her mistress.

 

An illustration of a Greek woman carrying a parasol. Source: Google Image Search

Umbrellas in Europe: history of function and fashion

It seems like the role and importance of umbrellas in Europe evolved along a slightly different path than in the societies of the Ancient World.

When it comes to protection against the rain, cloaks were actually used the most for that purpose during the Middle Ages (roughly the time period between the 5th and the 15th century).

First mentions of the aesthetics and use of umbrellas come from paintings and writings, mainly English, Italian and French. In England, umbrellas and parasols were probably adopted from China during the 17th century by way of correspondence and exchanging gifts between well-known writers and travelers of the time and the members of Chinese clergy and nobility.

The umbrella became popular in 18th century Paris. It was first introduced in 1710 by the merchant Jean Marius who got the King’s permission to produce umbrellas for the following five years. These umbrellas were already lightweight and collapsible, but had to be opened manually. The design for opening umbrellas mechanically was presented in 1759 by the French scientist Navarre. Still, owning and carrying an umbrella was frowned upon because it signalled the carrier was not wealthy enough to own his or her carriage.

The situation was the same in England during the first half of the 18th century. Stepping outside with an umbrella was a very brave thing to do and something that was the subject of public ridicule. Englishman Jonas Hanway is said to be the first person to publicly use an umbrella starting from the 1750s. The negative stance of the public started changing by the end of the century with a market emerging for modern umbrellas.

The modern everyday umbrella

How it’s made

The process of making an umbrella is still largely dependent on manual labor and includes several stages of assembling different parts of an umbrella. The skills required include: hand-sewing and hand-cutting, basic woodworking skills (in case the shaft of the umbrella is made of wood) and silkscreen printing (for adding colors, patterns and designs to the fabric part that makes up the umbrella).

Regardless of whether you are thinking about an everyday or special use umbrella and also regardless of its size and shape, all umbrellas and parasols are built of the same main components.

The choice of materials used makes most of the difference between a low quality and a high quality product and it directly affects the longevity and “user friendliness” of your umbrella.

This leads us to the three main goals of umbrella design: functionality, longevity and comfort for the end user (you).

 

A diagram showing all the different parts of a standard umbrella. Credit: Richtom80

The canopy

The canopy is the fabric that protects your head and the rest of your body (the width of the umbrella determines how much of your body stays protected from getting wet) from the rain.

It is probably your first association after you hear the word umbrella.

It comes in various colors, prints and patterns ranging from classic and subdued to wildly out there fashion statements.

 

Same model, differently colored canopies

Today it is made of high-density nylon materials (nylon taffeta is very common). Silk, cotton, leather and even waxed paper were all used in the past.

The canopy is made of individual fabric panels that are hand-sewn together. The standard number of panels for a classic hand-held umbrella is eight. The number can also be bigger or smaller, depending on the width of the canopy (a children’s umbrella on one end requires less panels for the canopy and a patio or golf umbrella require more).

After the panels are sewn together, end tips are added to the canopy.

The end tips

These tiny parts of your umbrella have a more important role than it looks: they serve to secure the ribs and ensure that the canopy is secured tightly over them.

They are usually made of plastic or wood.

If designed with more than function in mind, they can help set the tone for the overall look and style of your umbrella.

A wooden umbrella tip

The ribs and stretchers

If you’re looking for an umbrella that could last through more than the upcoming rainfall, be sure to find out as much as you can about the construction of the ribs and stretchers.

They connect the key parts of the umbrella together and help it get back to its original shape if it gets turned inside out in stormy weather.

The modern design of the ribs - U-shaped wire made of different types of metal - was patented in the 1850s by Samuel Fox. Materials used before that include cane and whalebone.

The construction of Kisha Classic: showing off the ribs and stretchers

In addition to steel and other types of metal, fiberglass is also used. You may think fiberglass is, well, glass, but it is actually plastic reinforced with glass fibers. That’s what makes it superior to regular plastic and definitely a preferred choice when it comes to designing and constructing umbrellas. Fiberglass springs back into shape while regular plastic breaks and leaves you standing in the rain.

The ribs help support the canopy it and give it its shape. Usually it’s a dome-like, bubble shape, but there are some special use umbrellas that are shaped differently to better serve their function (you’ll read more about that later).

The stretchers are what stretches out your umbrella when it is open and connect the ribs with the shaft (the vertical pole or “body” of the umbrella).

They are usually made of the same material the ribs are made of.

The runner and the springs (opening and closing mechanism)

(See diagram above) If you have to open your umbrella by hand, the runner will be the part you slide up the shaft of the umbrella and secure it on top to keep the canopy stretched. When you want to close your umbrella, you slide the runner back down.

The runner is kept in place by two springs: the top and the bottom spring.

These springs and the runner moving along the shaft is what makes up the opening and closing mechanism of the umbrella.

Open position: when the runner slides upwards over the retractable top spring, the top spring pops back out and locks the runner in place. Your umbrella is now open.

Closed position: if you have to close your umbrella by hand, this usually involves pushing the runner gently upward just so the top spring can retract again and allow the runner to be pulled down. Now you can slide it until it reaches the bottom spring, just above the handle. Your umbrella is now closed.

The shaft

(See diagram above) We already mentioned the shaft is the body of your umbrella, the vertical pole that runs from the handle to the top tip.

It can be made from a variety of materials: fiberglass, plastic, steel, aluminum and wood.

Don’t underestimate the visual appeal of this part of your umbrella. In the same way the end tips can influence its overall look and style, the material used to make the shaft can do so, too (even more so because it’s larger and more visible).

Wood is often used in luxury umbrella craftsmanship. Some brands deliberately choose to design their umbrellas with shafts made of unshaved wood for a very distinct, eye-catching look.

The handle

A good handle is designed to be comfortable when carrying your umbrella for longer periods of time.

They come in two basic shapes: the hook and the straight handle.

Hook handles are more traditional. While providing comfort for you, they also make it possible to hang your umbrella to dry or to store, or to hang it on your arm for ease of carrying.

Straight handles suggest a more modern and informal style for your umbrella. They are often made of rubber to be both more comfortable and more durable.

Kisha Classic umbrella with hook handle

Other materials used to make umbrella handles are wood, plastic, different types of metal or a combination of materials.

There are two ways to attach the handle to the shaft: it can be either screwed or glued on (the latter is preferred).

In addition to the types of handles already mentioned, high-end luxury umbrellas often come with extravagantly shaped handles that include animal heads, bird beaks and skulls.

The tip (or ferrule)

(See diagram above) And now back to the top.

That’s where the tip is at, and it can serve as another decorative element to your umbrella.

It can be made of various materials including different types of metal and wood. It often has a rubber part on the very bottom to make it more durable (or in case when an umbrella doubles as a walking stick).

Different types of handheld umbrellas

Like we already said before, every umbrella, no matter its shape, size or intended use is built using the same principles and elements. There is only a tiny difference between classic and foldable umbrellas. Ultimately the choice is up to you and will depend on your preferences and needs.

By shaft type

The classic and the foldable are two classic umbrella models that never go out of style and you’ll always have a reason to own both, especially if you live in a notoriously rainy area or somewhere where moody weather is the norm.

Classic umbrella

Classic umbrellas are characterized by their long, non-telescopic shaft (the vertical body of the umbrella where all the other parts are attached).

It is useful to try out more than one umbrella model before buying “the one”. The length of the shaft should be proportionate to your height so you’ll have no problem carrying it around on your arm or using it as a walking stick.

There is more than one way to construct a shaft.

If the shaft is wooden, it can be either a one-piece (made from one continuous piece of wood) or a two-piece (made from two different pieces of wood).

If it’s made of metal, the shaft is hollow, allowing for a lighter umbrella.

A closed Kisha Classic in black

Foldable (compact/telescopic) umbrella

The foldable is the classic’s smaller but still mighty companion.

It can easily be tucked away in your car, your bag or backpack so you can always be prepared for unexpected rain.

How are they different?

They have a center spring. In addition to the top and the bottom spring that a classic, full-size umbrella has, a foldable umbrella also has a center spring that allows for its shaft to become shorter or longer and enables the opening and expanding motion of the umbrella.

They open with a click of a button. If it’s a higher-priced, well-made model, the foldable is made to open (and even close) automatically by a simple push of a button, usually located on the handle. Quick and easy.

They have a different handle. Like a classic umbrella, a foldable can also have a hook handle, but more often it has a straight, sturdy handle that houses the button part of the opening/closing mechanism.

All in all, the main strength of a foldable umbrella is its convenience: it’s smaller in size and lighter in weight than a classic umbrella and can be the perfect travel companion.

An example of a foldable umbrella (they have smaller canopies and shorter shafts that classic umbrellas and also usually come with a straight handle instead of a hook one)

By canopy shape

The canopy is the stretched fabric that protects you from the rain. Because of its traditionally round shape It’s also called the dome, but nowadays there are innovative umbrella models whose canopy is shaped in a completely different way.

You can read more about those umbrellas in the section Special use umbrellas. Here we will focus on more traditional canopy shapes and designs.

Round umbrella

You could call this the prototype version of all umbrellas.

A round canopy umbrella fits every occasion and is highly functional. It’s also the most common canopy shape and comes in a variety of colors and patterns, making it easier to choose the right one for you.

Umbrellas with a typical round canopy

When do round canopies fail? This is not actually due to the shape of the canopy, but if the construction of the canopy is poor, your umbrella may not last you a very long time. Ribs and stretchers made of low-quality materials spell trouble for your umbrella come bad weather. If it gets turned out, chances are it will break.

Bubble umbrella

While the canopy of a round umbrella can come in a variety of sizes (diameters), its dome is relatively shallow.

Bubble umbrellas have deeper domes that make you feel like you’re carrying your own rain-repelling capsule … on a stick.

Their canopies are usually made of transparent PVC plastic and can be clear or in a single color and feature uplifting designs.

An example of a transparent bubble umbrella

Special use umbrellas

Storm umbrella

What gives away a storm umbrella is its canopy. They can have a double canopy (for added wind resistance), be shaped differently or come with reinforced rib structure.

Some storm umbrellas have a canopy that is elongated on one end, resembling a sort of tail. The tail end faces your back while the regularly shaped part of the canopy protects the front side of your body. This shape is aerodynamic and enables your umbrella to float on the wind instead of turning out.

The standard number of ribs for an umbrella is eight (just like eight is the standard number of panels for the canopy), but that number can be increased if the canopy is larger in diameter or constructed to be of superior quality. Only high-quality materials are used (aluminum, fiberglass).

Golf umbrella

Golf umbrellas are designed for golfers (no surprise there) to help them be on top of their game even in the rain.

They usually have extra large canopies and a special feature to be used on the turf: an anchor spike that, when pushed into the ground, ensures your umbrella stays there and keeps you dry while you take your shot.

Smart umbrellas: where tradition meets technology

Adding smarts to your umbrella is the latest step in the evolution of this everyday product-turned-gadget.

The basic design and function stays the same, as well as the choice of models (at least there is nothing that would prevent from having a range that includes both classic, full-size umbrellas and foldables). What changes is the number of uses your umbrella now has, each of them thought out to make your life easier and more fun on a day-to-day basis.

New functions

Weather prediction

How many times has this happened to you:

You wake up in the morning, start the day with coffee and the rest of your morning rituals (or you wake up in a panic because you overslept and have to get in gear ASAP), get dressed, look out the window only to see a reasonably harmless-looking sky and decide to leave your umbrella at home …

… and then it rains.

Again.

And they said it won’t.

Or they said it will, but you ignored that information because you always end up losing your umbrella, you may as well just keep it safe at home.

One of the main new functions added to any smart umbrella is weather prediction.

Kisha weather alert. Better safe than sorry!

How does it work? All smart umbrellas come with an accompanying app. When synced, the app will notify you of current weather conditions and make predictions about weather later on in the day. This is like your personalized weather forecast.

Some smart umbrella brands also build communities of their users and encourage them to upload real-time local weather data. With enough data collected, this could make it possible to have a hyperlocal weather forecast.

Lost umbrella alert

We already mentioned losing your umbrella (and losing it often) as something you want to avoid at all costs. Some use not carrying an umbrella as their strategy to achieve this but you could actually use the technology your smart umbrella comes with to get the same result (and still have protection against the rain).

How does it work? Your umbrella becomes trackable thanks to a simple Bluetooth chip usually located in the handle. The chip can be battery-powered or rechargeable.

When you leave your location and forget to take your umbrella, you will get notified about it via app while you’re still close so you can turn around and go back to pick it up.

It is worth noting this function works for short distances only. It is not meant for retrieving your estranged umbrella from across the country.  

Sharing with the community

You already read about how fostering community can lead to weather forecasts that are more relevant to smart umbrella users at a certain location.

There is more that can be done to make the time spent under your umbrella a shared experience.

Literally share it: in addition to smart umbrellas, there is also a niche market for umbrella add-on gadgets that signal you are open to sharing your umbrella with strangers in case of bad weather. You can attach this LED light gadget to the tip of your regular umbrella and enjoy all of its smart functions (weather forecast, lost umbrella alert, collecting local weather data).

Meet new people and keep in touch: In addition to having a main app that you can use to get notified about weather updates and if you lose your umbrella, some smart umbrella brands have started online communities for their users so they can connect beyond sharing umbrellas and discussing the weather. Not a bad idea if you live in a crowded concrete jungle where the tempo of everyday life makes it challenging to meet someone new.

Resources and fun stuff

Check your weather: best weather apps

You can always look at the sky, but if you’re planning ahead or just want to be on the safe side, you can do so with an app that suits your needs (there are apps out there that are specifically geared towards surfers, for example).

Here are the best tech tools you can use:

Umbrellas in numbers

There is a lot to be said about umbrellas. Numbers are as important as words when it comes to understanding how many are sold each year and how many umbrellas the average person owns, which umbrella colors they prefer and when they are the most likely to use it.

The majority of this data comes from The Global Umbrella Survey conducted by Sunnycomb between 2013 and 2014. Sunnycomb is now a social app that inspires users to share photos of the sky and information about the weather where they live.

Worldwide manufacture and sales

  • China is the biggest manufacturer and exporter of umbrellas, accounting for 92 percent  of global umbrella supply. It exports to Japan, the US, Brazil, Italy and Germany

  • 33 million umbrellas are sold on the US market alone (this number includes imported umbrellas as well), and the majority of umbrellas produced in the US don’t leave the country due to high demand

  • Belgium and Germany have one of the fastest growing umbrella production rates: 37 and 23 percent per year respectively

  • According to The Global Umbrella Survey, people bought the most umbrellas in Tanzania and South Africa: 3 umbrellas on average

Source: Sunnycomb Global Umbrella Survey

Number of owned umbrellas per person

  • The average number of umbrellas owned worldwide is 2.4

  • According to the survey, the Japanese own the most umbrellas per person: 3.3

  • Out of European countries, the average number of owned umbrellas owned is highest in Sweden: 3.0

  • England (notorious for its rainy weather) is only at the bottom of this list with 1.9 umbrellas owned on average

Source: Sunnycomb Global Umbrella Survey

Number of umbrellas lost

  • The average number of umbrellas lost worldwide is 4.6

  • Men are almost twice as likely to lose their umbrella than women

Source: Sunnycomb Global Umbrella Survey

Personal preferences: favorite umbrella colors and types

  • Not surprisingly, the most popular umbrella colors are dark blue and black, followed by (but not even closely) lighter shades of blue and red

  • 55 percent of people surveyed prefer to use a foldable umbrella

  • 33 percent use a classic, full-size umbrella

  • Other options are using disposable umbrellas (7 percent) or not using an umbrella at all (5 percent)

Source: Sunnycomb Global Umbrella Survey

Source: Sunnycomb Global Umbrella Survey

The weather: how much do people care about it, what is considered “umbrella weather” and who doesn’t mind getting caught in the rain

  • Weather forecast is the most important in Korea, Japan, Canada, the US and Sweden, with Koreans checking the weather 3.5 times a day

  • It doesn’t take too much for people to carry their umbrellas. It turned out the amount of rain needed is light sprinkling (on average), while 18 percent of women are likely to carry an umbrella in case of a drizzle (compared to 5 percent of men)

  • 4.5 percent of people wait until it is pouring to use their umbrella

  • Also, only around 4.5 percent of all people surveyed never use umbrellas

  • 16 percent of Americans don’t mind getting wet in the rain at all. Worldwide, that number is 6 percent

  • 39 percent of people surveyed who are from the UK don’t like getting wet in the rain at all. That number is much lower worldwide and in the US (18 and 12 percent respectively)

Source: Sunnycomb Global Umbrella Survey

Source: Sunnycomb Global Umbrella Survey

Source: Sunnycomb Global Umbrella Survey

Umbrellas in words: say umbrella in 50 different languages

Maybe the word umbrella wouldn’t be the first one you’d remember to learn in another language, but it would be the only one you’d need if you found yourself abroad without one.

Here’s how to ask for one around the world:

  • Chinese (traditional): 雨傘 (yǔsǎn)

  • Chinese (simplified): 雨伞 (yǔsǎn)

  • English: umbrella

  • Spanish: paraguas

  • Portuguese: guarda-chuva

  • Swedish: paraply

  • Norwegian: paraply

  • Japanese:  (kasa)

  • German: Regenschirm

  • Javanese: payung

  • Korean: 우산 (usan)

  • French: parapluie

  • Vietnamese: ô

  • Welsh: ymbarél

  • Slovak: dáždnik

  • Zulu: isambulela

  • Italian: ombrello

  • Polish: parasol

  • Odia: ଛତା (chata)

  • Punjabi: ਛੱਤਰੀ (chatari)

  • Maltese: umbrella

  • Swahili: mwavuli

  • Sunda: payung

  • Hausa: umbrella

  • Hungarian: esernyő

  • Basque: aterkia

  • Croatian: kišobran

  • Dutch: paraplu

  • Malagasy: elo

  • Maori: hamarara

The world’s rainiest cities

We decided to divide the world’s rainiest cities in two groups: the first group is made up of places that are actually smaller than cities and you’re probably not likely to visit them any time soon, but you never know (source: WorldAtlas). The second group is reserved for actual cities, notable for being tourist destinations despite their sometimes drizzly weather.

For these you’ll want to pack all the umbrellas you can get your hands on:

  • Mawsynram, India - average rainfall/year: 11,871 millimeters

  • Cherrapunji, India - average rainfall/year:  11,777 millimeters

  • Tutendo, Colombia - average rainfall/year: 11,770 millimeters

  • Cropp  River, New Zealand - average annual rainfall: 11,516 millimeters

  • San Antonio de Ureca, Biroko Island, Equatorial Guinea - average rainfall/year: 10,450 millimeters

  • Debundscha, Cameroon - average rainfall/year: 10,299 millimeters

  • Big Bog, Maui, Hawaii - average rainfall/year: 10,272 millimeters

  • Mt Waialeale, Kauai, Hawaii - average rainfall/year: 9763 millimeters

  • Kukui, Maui, Hawaii - average rainfall/year: 9293 millimeters

  • Emei Shan, Sichuan Province, China - average rainfall/year: 8169 millimeters

And now for the cities you know, in a somewhat random order (we went more with the given city’s tourist appeal than exact ranking by amount of annual rainfall):

London, United Kingdom

Average annual rainfall: 600 millimeters (24 inches)

New York, USA

Average annual rainfall: 1300 millimeters (50 inches)

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Average annual rainfall: 700 millimeters (30 inches)

Tokyo, Japan

Average annual rainfall: 1500 millimeters (60 inches)

Seattle, USA

Average annual rainfall: 1000 millimeters (40 inches)

Vancouver, Canada

Average annual rainfall: 1200 millimeters (45 inches)

Milan, Italy

Average annual rainfall: 1000 millimeters (40 inches)

New Orleans, USA

Average annual rainfall: 1600 millimeters (60 inches)

Hong Kong

Average annual rainfall: 2400 millimeters (95 inches)

Taipei, Taiwan

Average annual rainfall: 2500 millimeters (98 inches)

Umbrellas in popular culture

Popular culture is the melting pot of practices, beliefs and objects a society shares at a given point in time. It is also where we draw our cultural references from.

Rihanna’s Umbrella

Now that it's raining more than ever

Know that we still have each other

You can stand under my umbrella

You can stand under my umbrella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh

Who doesn’t remember this song!? It came out yesterday, right?

The song that propelled at the time 19 year old Rihanna to pop singer stardom was released in March 2007 (that’s definitely not yesterday, but it just goes to show how strong a reference point it still is to this day).

Umbrella was first released on US radio stations on March 24th, following a single release on March 29th. It was written by producers Tricky Stewart and Kuk Harrell and co-written by famous rapper Jay Z.

It was number one on Billboard Top 100 for seven consecutive weeks. It also topped the UK Top 40 charts for ten weeks and was number one in New Zealand and Romania, too. The Umbrella frenzy strangely coincided with unusually heavy rainfall and flooding in all of these countries, resulting in the media coining the term “the Rihanna curse”.

If it was a curse, it was one the singer herself escaped unharmed, earning award nominations, live performances at music award ceremonies, selling out multi-platinum albums and reshaping the modern music industry with a single line everybody got hooked on.

Rihanna in the music video for Umbrella. Source: Pinterest

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

This romantic musical drama shot in 1964 tells the story of a young couple whose relationship is put to the test as life pulls them away from each other.

Umbrellas appear throughout the movie, first in the title and then as the name of the umbrella boutique owned by Genevieve, the film’s main female character and her mother, Madame Emery.

Typical for the movie are bold, colorful scenes and skilled camerawork. If you thought the style reminded you of something, that’s because it was one of the main sources of inspiration for 2016’s romantic musical drama La La Land.

Young Catherine Denevue as the movie’s main female character Genevievé. Source: Google Image Search

Umbrella Corporation (Resident Evil)

The Umbrella Corporation is a fictional conglomerate belonging to the Resident Evil universe located in Raccoon City, a small community located in mid-western US.

The Umbrella Corporation positioned itself as the leading manufacturer and seller of pharmaceutical products and healthcare services in the US, but their main activity was production and research of biological weapons, as well as genetic and viral research.

The company was founded in 1968 following the founders’ discovery of the Progenitor virus in Africa. This virus was produced naturally by a toxic flower which was used by the Ndipaya tribe to choose their leader. The Progenitor virus was later combined with leech DNA to create the T-virus, able to bring back to life the bodies of infected hosts and turn them into cannibalistic zombies.

This virus had a disastrous outbreak in Raccoon City, causing the majority of its inhabitants to turn into zombie-like creatures. The people who somehow managed to survive the virus helped expose The Umbrella Corporation and others who were perpetuating the production of genetically engineered life-forms as weapons.

Umbrella Corporation logo. Source: Google Image Search

The Umbrella Academy (Netflix TV show)

Netflix’s latest hit is based on a series of comics created by Gerard Way (the former frontman of My Chemical Romance) and Gabriel Bá (artist and co-creator of the comic series Casanova).

The story begins when 43 babies with superhuman abilities are suddenly born to mothers that showed no previous signs of pregnancy. Sir Reginald Hargreeves, a wealthy inventor and benefactor, decides to adopt seven of these children for unknown reasons. His strange little family soon becomes dysfunctional because he pushes the children only to perform. After his death, Hargreeves’ children try to reunite and work as a team to save the world.

The Umbrella Academy already got renewed for season 2 and is scheduled to go into production later in 2019.

The Umbrella Academy promo photography for Season 1. Source: IMDb

Finest umbrella artwork

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

This small collection of inspirational umbrella (and parasol) art serves as a glimpse into the past of both art and the evolution of umbrellas as fashion and everyday items.

Auguste Renoir - Les Parapluies (1880 - 1886). Source: Pinterest

Claude Monet - Woman with a parasol, facing left (1875). Source: Pinterest

William John Hennessy - The Japanese Parasol (1890). Source: Pinterest

Frank Coburn - Friends (circa 1913). Source: Pinterest

Henri Lebasque - Woman on a boat with an umbrella (1915). Source: Pinterest

Painting by Steve Hanks. Source: Pinterest

Andre Kohn - Le Parapluie Jaune series #5. Source: Pinterest

Leonid Afremov - Under the red umbrella. Source: Pinterest

Celebrities and umbrellas

Celebrities are often trendsetters and can turn even a classic black umbrella into an object of desire. Some go for the elegant, timeless look and neutral colors, while others like to make a statement with their choice, going for trendy shapes and styles.

On the other hand, vintage photoshoots with umbrellas look equally iconic and effortless.

In need of inspiration. Take a look.

Marilyn Monroe photographed by Andre Dienesété in 1949. Source: Pinterest

Audrey Hepburn with an umbrella. Source: Pinterest

Brigitte Bardot holding a white parasol. Source: Pinterest

Queen Elizabeth II carrying a transparent bubble umbrella with powder blue rim and hook handle. Source: Pinterest

Sarah Jessica Parker combining classic black, red and pink tones for this elegantly playful look. Source: Pinterest

Lana Del Rey with a classic black umbrella. Source: Pinterest

Prince William and Kate Middleton under a timeless black umbrella. Source: Pinterest

Dita Von Teese in true vintage style with matching burgundy umbrella and handbag. Source: Pinterest

Umbrella FAQ

This FAQ focuses on the most common questions people ask about umbrellas.

It can also serve as a short summary of points made earlier in this article, so read on if you still have some unanswered questions or want to refresh what you learned here.

Which umbrella is best?

This is a really general question, but to answer it, ask yourself this: what do you need the umbrella for? Does it look well made? Do you like it (its color, size and features)?

In short, which umbrella is best for you and your needs.

  • The occasion you need the umbrella for largely dictates what kind of umbrella you will need: everyday use, during travel, at formal events, as a fashion accessory

  • If you’re on a budget and want to spend wisely, go for a classic black umbrella. It’s versatile and never goes out of style

  • Before you buy it, spend some time looking at the umbrella and how it’s made, especially the quality of the ribs and stretchers. Ask the salesperson about the materials used (fiberglass is a great option for ribs and stretchers because it’s firm, but also springy, meaning your umbrella won’t break in the wind)

  • Consider the overall style of the umbrella and some other features like the handle (hook or straight?) and the opening and closing mechanism (do you have to open the umbrella by hand or does it open automatically?)

Which is the best windproof umbrella?

Call us biased, but we’d bet on Kisha.

But really: for an umbrella to be windproof, it has to have

  • Ribs and stretchers made of a good-quality material like fiberglass. Fiberglass is both strong and flexible, which makes it a perfect choice

  • Superb stitching that ensures the canopy doesn’t get torn and that the canopy stays attached to the ribs and stretchers even in case of a storm

What is the most expensive umbrella in the world?

The Billionaire Couture Crocodile Skin waterproof umbrella. It costs anywhere between 15,000 and 50,000 dollars and is made to order, but we’re not sure that’s still possible because it was part of Billionaire Couture’s Autumn/Winter 2008-2009 collection.