Fashion: Hancock’s cutting edge classics

Daniel Dunko, Chief Executive of Hancock. Photograph by Richard Gaston
Daniel Dunko, Chief Executive of Hancock. Photograph by Richard Gaston
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With heritage at its heart, British label Hancock uses traditional techniques to create covetable raincoats and accessories that are bang up to date. The duo behind the label, Daniel Dunko and Gary Bott, took inspiration for the name from rubber industry founder Thomas Hancock, who developed vulcanised rubber clothing with Charles Macintosh in the 1800s. Chief executive Daniel Dunko, 51, explains why tradition has its place in the modern world as the label launches its bright and beautiful SS17 collection.

What is your background?

Hancock and Stella McCartney collaboration, the Aylin bonded cotton trench coat, �1,595, available from www.matches.com

Hancock and Stella McCartney collaboration, the Aylin bonded cotton trench coat, �1,595, available from www.matches.com

In 1983, I started an apprenticeship in Coatmaking Tailoring at Traditional Weatherwear, which became the brand Mackintosh. I always wanted to see what I could do in the way of sales and marketing and design, so I regularly used to knock on the MD’s door, and in 1988 I got a job in sales. In 1992, I became the sales manager and in 1996 the sales director, when I launched the first Mackintosh collection in Tokyo. I went on to become part-owner of Mackintosh.

How did Hancock come about?

In 2007, I sold Mackintosh to our distributors in Japan, staying on as chief executive until opening our first flagship store in London’s Mayfair in 2011. After discussions with Gary, and being inspired by heritage brands, we launched Hancock in 2012. We created a design project with Edinburgh College of Art and Design for our first collection, which we took to Tokyo to launch. The winner of the brief was Colin Oliphant, who now heads up design at Hancock. We currently employ 10 staff at our Cumbernauld factory, which is steeped in traditional methods, with the emphasis on precision cut and pattern.

What is the aim for Hancock?

Article 38, orange, Hancock, from �695, hancockva.com

Article 38, orange, Hancock, from �695, hancockva.com

To create beautiful handmade products here in Scotland, recognising that we have a heritage process but that the pieces we produce must be able to fit into modern life. We will shortly launch our bespoke service, which will also give customers garments tailored to their needs.

What challenges have you faced?

The challenge is almost to separate yourself in some ways from the past, to show more innovation, show more of a purpose for how we live today; it makes us look more closely at how we become more creative about what we do.

What is the fun part of your business?

Continuing to make new collaborations and meet inspirational people. We’ve just completed a catwalk piece for John Galliano, Maison Margiela, we have worked with Missoni and Stella McCartney, and we are into our sixth season with Converse, utilising rubber to create something unique. When you think things can be old-fashioned and not for today, and you can turn that on its head and make a craft become important to the way we live, that’s the exciting part.

How has the business evolved?

It is continually evolving. Because of my background, the brand started off making handmade coats, then we moved into footwear, with collaborations with Converse, and, still taking inspiration from the archive that Thomas Hancock left, we are looking towards creating luggage for a global market.

What is your most popular product?

I think within any range there is 
always a piece that is a kind of modern classic, and we have an Article 1 and an Article 41, which are basically a four-button fly front coat with a detachable collar that gives you two looks; a Mandarin no-collar look or a style with a collar.

Who are your customers?

I think Hancock coats span generations, from contemporary colours and classic cuts, there is something for everyone.

Which items do you have at home from your range?

I have everything. I do think everybody still comes back to having a classic though and for me it’s more of a fixed collar, which is Article 41, but I’m always tapping into what’s going through the factory on a seasonal basis.

What are your goals?

I’d like Hancock to continue to be progressive in its outlook and keep working on interesting collaborations. I’d also like it to develop its own identity within outerwear and fashion, accessories and lifestyle. The patents that Thomas Hancock put together may look old-fashioned now, but they were way ahead of their time, so if we can build an appreciation for those types of things then that would be great.

What is your design philosophy?

Our philosophy is that you don’t create accessories for style’s sake, everything we do must have a purpose, there should always be a reason for doing things.

Who has influenced your style?

When you look at things, in fashion or architecture or design, I think you just look at good taste and don’t necessarily apportion a name to that, so I just take in anything I like around me.

Who are your favourite designers?

I do look back at working on a very nice project with Jil Sander. It was years ago and everything she was doing then was beautiful and simple, and the cuts were spot on.

What is your inspiration?

How many times do you travel and see things and think, ‘That’s a fantastic colour’? Then I think, ‘If we put that into that style, it’d be great.’ It’s just life really, life is an inspiration in itself, and I think travelling and seeing different cultures inspires me.

Any wardrobe malfunctions you’d like to tell us about?

We’re going back a long, long time, when those huge flared trousers were around… but, funnily enough, I’ve just bought a pair of flared trousers from Kestin Hare’s new Leith store. He stocks Hancock here and in his London shop, but buying flared trousers is still something I thought I’d given up 30 years ago.

Janet Christie

Hancock is available from www.hancockva.com; see website for stockists