Hunter's Creative Director Talks Coveted Collabs, Iconic Style Moments, and Sustainability

Courtesy of Hunter
Courtesy of Hunter

Hunter boots have been a rainy-weather staple for over a century now, but who's the man who gave the brand a complete revival just six years ago? Alasdhair Willis was appointed creative director in 2013, and since then, Hunter has become a wardrobe staple among celebrities and fashion influencers alike. The brand's iconic boots are everywhere on the festival circuit and beyond.

Willis, married to designer Stella McCartney, knows his way around the industry. He has evolved Hunter into a global leader in elevated lifetstyle essentials. The brand — once a British rubber company, founded in the 1800s — is now a staple both in Britain and the US. Just when you think Hunter couldn't get any bigger, it releases another new seasonal line or must-buy boot.

We got the inside scoop from Willis on Hunter's coveted collaborations, most memorable style moments, and what's in store for the company. Read on to learn how Hunter has become the label to watch.

On Collaborating With Wife Stella McCartney
Stella McCartney

On Collaborating With Wife Stella McCartney

POPSUGAR: This past year, Hunter has delivered releases that appeal to a variety of customers, from the Target collab to the boots at Stella McCartney's Winter 2019 runway show. How do you choose which endeavors are right for the brand?
Alasdhair Willis: Hunter appeals to such a broad group of people. So we can naturally collaborate with a variety of brands. The priority for us is to work with partners that share our values and spirit. The Target collaboration is a good example. Both brands speak to the whole family, to the outdoors and importantly also a sense of fun! So the collection and the Ultimate Family Festival celebrated this. We also introduced new products into the collection for the first time, like coolers or the Hunter for Target wagon. On the other hand, sourcing sustainable materials is really important for us. So, the collaboration with Stella McCartney, on what may be the most sustainable boot ever made, has been an important step forward.

PS: What was it like collaborating with your wife for her Winter 2019 show?
AW: My wife is an incredibly talented designer and businesswoman and it felt the right moment for us to collaborate. The Stella McCartney and Hunter brands have many shared values — her environmentally friendly ethos, distinctly modern aesthetic, and Hunter's iconic British heritage. We have created a new generation of footwear and are very proud of the result.

PS: Do you have plans for further collaborations in the future?
AW: We have some very exciting collaborations coming up, though many of which I can't yet talk about. However, one coming out very soon is a collaboration with Peppa Pig, which launches this week! The collection celebrates our shared love with Peppa of muddy puddles! It also coincides with the release of an episode, in which Peppa attends her first festival. Perfect timing. We then of course have the collaboration with Stella, which goes on sale in September. Beyond that, you will have to stay tuned, but there are some collaborations exclusively for our US customers to watch out for.

How Sustainability Is a Priority For Hunter

PS: How is Hunter factoring in sustainability when designing and producing apparel?
AW: It's incredibly important across all our products. Our boots are made of 100 percent natural rubber, and we have recently committed alongside a number of other brands to work with our partners to become FSC certified. The Stella boots are sourced from an FSC-certified plantation and made from a plant-based neoprene that generates 80 percent less CO2. Most of our boots are in fact vegan, so we will be introducing a certified vegan edit very soon. We have for some time been donating boots that are fit for purpose, but unable to be sold. We have donated more than 115,000 pairs of boots in recent years. We have then also just introduced a service in the UK, where our customers can return their old boots, which are ground down and used as filler, kickboxing bags, or playground flooring, saving up to three tons of CO2 for every ton of rubber. We are planning to roll this out globally in due course. Specific to apparel, we are introducing outerwear made from recycled polyester next spring.

On Hunter's Most Iconic Moments
Getty | MJ Kim

On Hunter's Most Iconic Moments

PS: Meghan Markle was spotted in Hunter boots recently, which reignited a lot of buzz about when celebrities have worn the wellies in the past. Do you have favorite Hunter style moments from over the years that you deem iconic?
AW: Kate Moss, of course. The image of Kate at Glastonbury is a milestone in the brand's history. Otherwise, I have to mention the Royal Family. We are very proud of holding Royal Warrants from the queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Charles has always worn our boots. We were delighted to see Meghan in the boots, but then also Prince George when posing for the most recent family Christmas card!

PS: Hunter is a staple at Glastonbury, but how is the brand making itself known on the festival circuit this year?
AW: We are known as the go-to festival brand, but we believe it's much more than that. For our customers who attend festivals, we are embedded in their festival experience. In 10 years' time you'll still be recounting your festival experience and for our brand to be wrapped up in that memory pool is priceless. We celebrate the festival of Summer, so music festivals are as important to us as many other events, such as heading with friends upstate or being with family in your own backyard. Hunter is a part of all these experiences and that is what makes the brand so unique.

The Hottest Hunter Product of 2019

PS: What's your favorite piece from Hunter right now?
AW: For right now, I'd say the bum bag (or fanny pack, as you call it on your side of the Atlantic). It's been such a success, it initially sold out and so we brought it back for festival season. It was worn by several celebrities at Glastonbury just this month. I am also though really excited for the introduction of our cold offer for this Winter, particularly the launch of our new Sherpa and Snow boots.

PS: Are there any exciting releases or projects you can give us the scoop on for the coming year?
AW: We have many, however I can't reveal them yet! What I can say is that you'll see us coming back with another experiential activity this year in key cities around the globe, including London, Tokyo, and New York to celebrate the enormous success of our backpacks. Keep your eyes peeled!