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Fashion December, 11 2012

Selectism Q&A – Daniel Dunko of Hancock Rainwear

A new rainwear brand that could be best described as ‘right up our street’, Hancock takes a traditional model and adds just the right amount of detail here and there, keeping a tried and tested classic fresh. Founded by Daniel Dunko and Gary Bott (currently Creative Director at Globe-Trotter), the pair gained their vast knowledge of bonded rainwear from their time at Mackintosh, turning the manufacturer into a much sought after label. Now working on their own growing brand, Hancock takes its name and inspiration from Thomas Hancock, British inventor and godfather of the rubber industry who patented the rubber vulcanising process in 1843. Still in use today, the label continues to rely on old-fashioned methods but view themselves very much as a contemporary maker. Collaborations with the likes of Timothy Everest, a vivid colour palette, modern prints and customisation possibilities, having seen the line up close we were instantly sold. Now stocked United Arrows, Barneys, Lane Crawford and Anthem among others, we speak to Daniel Dunko who took time out to talk us through Hancock’s past and future.

Check out Spring Summer 2013 alongside Timothy Everest and Globe-Trotter collaborations in our gallery.

-Can you tell us a little about your background?

Both Gary Bott and I came from Mackintosh. I was with the organisation for
27-years where I trained as a coat-maker, started selling then I set-up the
Mackintosh brand in 1996 as before that the company was a manufacturer. Gary
helped to market the brand for 8-years and we sold the company
in 2007. Last year we both decided to leave and here we are today with our new
label Hancock.

-What was the initial idea behind Hancock and how did it all begin?

We were both aware of Thomas Hancock, the English inventor and founder
of the British rubber industry, who partnered with Charles Macintosh in 1825;
improving the rubber solution used to produce the bonded cloth patented by
Charles Macintosh in 1823. Hancock held 14 significant rubber patents, notably
he invented elastic for use in clothing and accessories in 1820 and vulcanisation
in 1843; the process used to bond the cloth used to this day. Gary discovered a
book Thomas Hancock wrote in 1856 containing his life’s works. This personal
narrative features all of his discoveries, inventions and patents accompanied
by original Victorian etchings; these include designs (or “articles” according to
Thomas Hancock) for outerwear, bags, shoes, accessories and furniture that are
the inspiration for all of our collections.

-You obviously know rainwear inside out having started at Mackintosh and
now moving onto Hancock. Can you tell us what’s so unique about the
rubber vulcanising process used in your outerwear?

The rubber bonded cloth we use comes from the same mill I have worked with
now for 28-years in Manchester. The process of bonding the cloth was perfected
by Thomas Hancock between 1825-1843 and the mill that produces this cloth
today stays true to our process. What we do however is focus on our own colours
and prints that are bonded exclusively for Hancock.

-You’ve taken something traditional and added some really interesting
modern touches – can you tell us about some of these details?

Our position is “Modern Heritage”. Our heritage is in the hand-making
process, such as taping interior seams with glue using the index finger. Where we contextualise this process in a modern world is through our cutting, use of colour and detailing. In rubber bonded outerwear, fit and form are fundamental to the design of a coat that is traditionally voluminous and because of the unique behaviour of the cloth must be cut in a certain way to look good. Our modern approach is based very much on my own experience as a coat-maker and brand owner working with notable designers over the years; plus at Hancock we work closely with next and new generation creative talent including our own in-housedesigner, Colin Oliphant.

-Can you give us some insight into the production process?

We start with cutting our rubber bonded cloth by hand, this is then machine
stitched, then the interior seams are taped by our coat makers who apply a
special glue solution using only their index finger as this is the best tool for the
job. Taping the seams ensures the article is fully waterproof. Any excess glue
along the taped seam is removed using a hand tool with a rubber wheel and the
seam is then finished with a hand roller that helps to flatten the tape so it remains
firmly bonded.

-What are the key features of Hancock coats and jackets?

Besides our rubber bonded cloth and handmade process, what makes a
Hancock article special is our design; focus on colour and fit. Our attention to
detail is also important with some of our articles featuring detachable collars,
hoods and concealed elasticated cuffs invented by Thomas Hancock in 1820.

-How did the collaboration with Timothy Everest come about?

Tim and I have been friends now for 12-years. When I first started designing
our menswear collection I knew that fit was integral to our offer and discussed
ideas with Timothy who was interested in working with us. Tim is unique in that
he is an incredibly talented tailor but with an edge and eye for detail that I admire
greatly. You only have to visit his Elder Street house to understand him or view
the film he created for his LCM presentation in June this year. The challenge
was to realise his tailoring principles in our coat-making process, which has to
be modified as we are not machining a standard cloth. The result we feel is an
entirely elegant, refined silhouette in a handmade rubberised form.

-What were the ideas and inspiration behind Spring Summer 2013?

We wanted to break away from tradition and archives to bring together a range
of modern silhouettes, tailored towards the future and to define the Hancock
customer. To highlight Spring with vibrance that you see in nature so, our colours, Tennis = grass; Honeysuckle = flowers; Azure = clear skies; Sunflower = sunshine and Sand = beach.

-Do you have a favourite piece in this collection?

Mine would have to be Article 8, our City Coat designed by Timothy Everest; for
it’s modern tailored silhouette.

-What’s next for Hancock?

We are taking on five apprentice coat-makers this month as we are building our
business and having to increase production next season. Then, next month we
will open a design studio next door to our factory that will serve as a home to
our designer as well as a creative installation space housing our future archive
that will be open to visitors including local design colleges interested in our
manufacturing process. What we’re particularly excited about next year is the
launch of our complete collection beyond outerwear to include tailoring, bags and
our Malting shoe or “Anti-Grain Crusher”; a sneaker of sorts designed by Thomas
Hancock in 1830.

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