HUNTER: RE-INVENTING RUBBER
HOW ALASDHAIR WILLIS HAS TRANSFORMED HUNTER ORIGINAL
Re-inventing a brand is probably one of the hardest challenges for a designer. It is a huge risk especially when a brand has a massive history and is well established in the fashion industry. Sometimes brands drift out of the limelight, financially things start to drop, and the identity begins to fade. So this is when a fresh designer/creative director with new ideas is brought in to spice things up and give it a kick.
I am a strong believer that we as a country need to embrace our British designers and brands going forward.
It is so easy and tempting nowadays to send work abroad or sell a brand to an international fashion group. I am of course not against this, if it is necessary, however we should take pride in what our country has to offer, creatively, and therefore should not lose classic brands with British heritage. British fashion has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years and it is clear by the numbers that flock to the capital during fashion week, that our reputation for innovation in the industry has dramatically improved.
One brand that encouraged me to jump to this topic in particularly is the re-emergence of Hunter, now named Hunter Original. When I heard the news, in 2013, that Stella McCartney's other half, Alasdhair Willis, had been selected to take over as Creative Director, I thought this was bound to cause a stir... and what a stir it has caused!
When one thinks of Hunter as a brand, the first thing I am sure that comes to mind is the infamous Wellington boot. It is hard to find a house in the countryside which doesn't possess at least one pair of the classic bottle-green rubberised footwear!
The main focus of the ‘new’ Hunter Original is the development of these boots and also the introduction of ready-to-wear items. I recently purchased one of Hunter Originals padded jackets for winter and when asked where I purchased it from, people's faces are full of shock to hear that Hunter Original are now producing fashionable outerwear. Never have I had so many comments on one piece of clothing!
Alasdhair Willis has taken on the ultimate task of turning an originally industrial focused company, established in 1856 by an American entrepreneur (fear not, he founded it on this side of the pond!) into a fashion-forward, modern-day, commercial brand. Over the last few years, numerous celebrities have been spotted and photographed wearing their original wellies, dragging their feet through the muddy pastures of Glastonbury, but I can guarantee this won't be the only Hunter Original item they will be photographed wearing in the next coming years.
This Creative Director has already made huge waves, in a short space of time, with his hugely creative fashion shows (water featuring heavily) which, of course, have already attracted the big guns of the industry. Not only are they fighting to the front row to evaluate this re-invention but there is genuine excitement and invested interest about his innovative designs.
Boldly coloured 'flared' wellies were featured in his most recent AW15/16 show styled with classically shaped padded jackets for men in shades of navy, rust and olive. His previous collections included light-weight parkas/ponchos in eye-catching prints to match the brightly coloured knitwear, cropped wellies, rubberised sneakers and chelsea boots. iPhone cases, tote bags and leather back-packs all completing the men's accessories department.
I can safely say this is a brand that people need to keep their eye on. From personal experience I can tell you the quality of the products are superb and the designs are extremely clever, whilst still maintaining the classic Hunter identity. Alasdhair is encouraging people to get inspired with their outerwear and if you haven't already, I definitely advise you to take a trip to their aptly futuristic concept of a flagship store on Regent Street in London.
I predict big things for this brand and I applaud Alasdhair and his team for the results so far. I can see their shows being the next Burberry golden-ticket event and their ready-to-wear pieces not only being the must-haves of any festival uniform, but also your daily attire. Long live the British brands!