Handmade Raincoats | Ape to Gentleman for Hancock Vulcanised Articles
Brands don’t get any more legitimate than Hancock Vulcanised Articles. You might not have heard of them yet, but read on – for you’ll appreciate the levels of quality here.
The story begins with Mr Thomas Hancock, who founded the rubber industry in Britain. In 1815 Hancock entered the stagecoach business, creating a need for an effective waterproofing agent for his coaches, drivers and passengers. The answer was rubber, and specifically his creation, a rubber masticator: a machine designed with revolving teeth that tore up rubber scraps. These shredded bits, unbeknown to Hancock, bonded into a solid mass of rubber which he pressed into moulds and sheets. Hancock’s masticator gave birth to the rubber industry.
Hancock’s success and rubber masticator caught the eye of Charles Macintosh, who in 1823 had patented a process for waterproofing fabrics with naphtha-treated rubber. Hancock in turn applied for a licence in 1825 to use Macintosh’s naphtha process. Subsequently, the two men became partners in the manufacture of waterproof items.
Hancock wasn’t finished there however, and in 1825 he patented elastication for use in clothing. This included elasticated cuffs and waists for warmth, as well as elasticated pockets to prevent pick-pockets. He used Siphonia Elastica, a rubber tree noted for providing the greatest amount and finest quality of natural rubber. A picture of the tree hand-drawn by Hancock is now the signature print of Hancock Vulcanised Articles.
Today, Hancock Vulcanised Articles specialises in handmade raincoats crafted at its factory in Scotland. And the brand’s rich heritage has not been lost – two generations of specialist coat-makers continue to work their magic on a wide variety of vulcanised rubberised cloths, including wool flannels, cashmeres, silks and cottons. These are then bonded using a traditional manufacturing process at an original Victorian factory in England.
The modern-day Hancock silhouette boasts clean, minimal lines with luxury detailing and finishings. And of course, that signature botanical printed cotton within. The brand distinguishes itself further by offering outerwear made to customer specification. Hems and cuffs can be altered to order, for example, and due to the entirely handmade process, they can produce coats to order using an array of limited fabrics and linings. At present, just 100 coats are made at the factory each month.
The manufacturing process is quite something, with every item first cut then sewn by a team of machinists before it is passed an experienced coat-makers. Interior seams and pockets are glued and taped by hand – a process called “smearing” – before being rolled flat using a hardened steel hand roller then finished with a rubber cleaning wheel tool.
All Hancock Vulcanised Articles are handmade in rubber bonded (vulcanised), natural cloths. Subsequently, two-layers of cloth are bonded with a layer of rubber in-between, creating an impenetrable barrier and ensuring the finished cloth is 100% waterproof.
Ape to Gentleman for Hancock Vulcanised Articles
For this review, we were gifted an Article 49 double-breasted raincoat featuring a concealed front placket, hidden top button, front welt pockets and button-through rear vent.
Honestly, we were blown away by the quality of the coat – not only in terms of aesthetics but the level of craftsmanship too. Eli (pictured throughout) teamed his with selvedge jeans and dark brown Chelsea boots for an urban explorer look, whilst I combined my Article 41 raincoat with black sweatpants, Nike Flyknit sneakers and a grey hoodie for a modern take on athleisure.
Whether worn formally with a lounge suit for the 9-5, with smart casual pieces for a date, or dressed down at the weekend, the coats worked magnificently in every setting.
We can only applaud Hancock Vulcanised Articles for the brand’s “rebirth” and can’t wait to see what they have in store next. If you’re in search of a fine quality raincoat with a unique backstory and want to avoid the stereotypical Burberry and Macintosh varieties, look no further.
Visit hancockva.com for more information and to purchase.
- Client: Hancock Vulcanised Articles
- Photography: Making Frames
- Human: Eli Ankutse of JOSHUA’s Magazine
- Location: Dovedale, Peak District