Hunter Original’s meteoric rise as a credible fashion label is a fascinating one to track. In the earlier days of venturing onto the runway, its focus on reinventing the trench coat may have placed itself too closely to the likes of Burberry, Aquascutum, and Daks. Somehow it has become the de facto product class for British heritage brands to ride on when it comes to diversification. But recent developments saw Creative Director Alasdhair Willis, who is also known as Stella McCartney’s better half, positioning the heritage brand further away from anything mildly retrospective. Today’s show proved to be a tipping point for Willis in ushering the original British bootmaker into a brave new world.
For a start, Hunter had all the elements of a headliner show at fashion week. Willis secured a bespoke venue: an industrial complex transformed into the interior of a festival tent complete with real mud and bungee ropes. High production values also meant a grand confetti finale, and to top it off he managed an audience with both Anna Wintour and Salma Hayek, the leading women of fashion’s art and commerce. Beyond just the added effects that gave Hunter Original an undeniably elevated status, the designs that nodded to the oversized proportions championed last season by Vetements, and the upbeat, anarchic styling often seen at Kenzo, pushed Hunter Original to the forefront of what is exciting and current.
Each look brought in one statement piece after another. High sheen abstracted camo jackets had bold yellow lacing, echoing one of its more fashion forward boots; pastel ombré parachute dresses were paired with cropped khaki raincoats. The otherwise dainty gradient dresses also had their shoulder seams turned into a drawstring detail, a clever way to introduce ruching but still keeping to the utilitarian theme. Contemporary wardrobe staples like the classic bomber jackets had iron-on badges (a recurring street trend) while pastel Harrington jackets received a modern twist with repeated oversized metallic eyelets. The collection seemed rooted in Hunter Original’s emphasis on function but ended somewhere near manipulating those practical elements into brilliant decorative motifs.
Spring/Summer 16 was delivered as another confident stride for the ever-growing brand under Willis’ stewardship. There has not been a fiercer gesture in rewriting the outlook of a heritage brand than when Christopher Bailey sent down a troop of metallic trench coats in Spring/Summer 2013.