LONDON, United Kingdom — Hunter has named Daniel Shaw its new design director. Shaw joins the 160-year old British rainwear brand from Christopher Raeburn, where he led the design studio.
“I have been watching Hunter from afar with intrigue,” Shaw tells BoF. “The product evolution has really stood out — there’s a respect for the heritage of the brand but each new product respects the design integrity and spirit of it. I’m really excited to be a part of Hunter's next chapter and see this as a unique opportunity to help realise the true potential of the brand.”
Shaw replaces Niall Sloan, who was at the brand for four years: he has since moved to Escada. “I believe in Daniel we have found that very rare commodity — a designer that understands how to deliver design integrity, while always maintaining a commercial position and retaining visibility for the consumer,” Alasdhair Willis, creative director of Hunter, tells BoF.
It makes sense for Hunter to appoint a designer from Raeburn: the two brands are much aligned in terms of approach to product, and both are champions of British manufacturing. “There are huge similarities in what Raeburn does and what Daniel is going to bring to the brand going forwards… Raeburn is clearly a designer that we look to because their heritage, albeit young heritage, in outerwear, in pushing fabrics, and fabrications, is something that appeals and resonates with Hunter,” says Willis.
Shaw’s experience in designing ready-to-wear will benefit Hunter: when Willis joined in 2013, Hunter was a single-product brand. It has since expanded into outerwear and accessories, sales of which have doubled in the last 12 months. Willis plans to introduce new categories like knitwear into the Hunter portfolio. “We’ve delivered strong growth in this last year, now seeing a substantial part of our business that is now non-footwear,” says Willis, who adds that Hunter will open its first North American store in Toronto in October. “Now that we’ve got that in place, we can really grow and drive off that to really start expanding into new categories and areas.”
After pulling back from the London Fashion Week show schedule in 2016 to focus on festival engagement, Hunter is now looking to grow its visibility through collaborations, the latest of which is with makeup artist Isamaya Ffrench. It will be the first since Willis's arrival at Hunter: he deliberately stepped back from creative partnerships in order to refine Hunter’s brand identity. Part of Hunter’s upcoming strategy is to develop a partnership programme for each of the brand’s core products: that Shaw worked closely on the Victorinox and Disney collaborations at Raeburn is a further advantage.
The Isamaya Ffrench collaboration sees the launch of four limited-edition versions of Hunter's rubberised backpack — each produced as a run of 50, and all hand-painted and signed by Ffrench. “Each is a mini artwork,” says Willis. “Isamaya is an interesting and exciting yet unexpected partner for us to work with. She’s not just a makeup artist — she transcends boundaries, as many creatives do.”
The collaboration has opened up another distribution channel for Hunter: the collection will launch exclusively at Dover Street Market — the first time Hunter product has ever been stocked in the store. “Now, the conversation with myself and Dover Street has started about other possible opportunities and partnerships,” says Willis. “There are numerous reasons to collaborate but from a business point of view, opening yourself up to a new customer and a new way to market gives people a different reason to look at your brand.”