What could be more British than a wet muddy field? To cope with this defining feature of the nation's landscape, the North British Rubber Company began producing the Hunter, a sturdy green rubber boot of the low-heeled, calf-length type known as Wellingtons, or "wellies," in 1956. They soon became a staple of rural life (country girl Lady Diana Spencer even wore a pair in her pre-makeover 1981 engagement photo.) Today, however, Hunter boots are as likely to turn up at outdoor music festivals (like Glastonbury) as farms, and have graced the elegant legs of such wellie wearers as Rihanna, Sandra Bullock, Alessandra Ambrosio, Kate Bosworth, Kate Moss, and Gwyneth Paltrow, to name just a few.
Now spearheaded by Alasdhair Willis, former publisher of Wallpaper, husband of Stella McCartney, and the brand’s creative director since 2013, Hunter has opened its first flagship store on London’s Regent Street, part of its mission to transform from stodgy heritage brand to stylish must-have. Willis has divided the brand into two: Hunter Original, a trend-conscious, youthful collection, with prices starting at $120 for boots, and Hunter Field, a more performance-oriented collection that launches next year. As well as a huge selection of colorful wellies (displayed on “puddle tables” that make them look as though they are standing in water), the store carries Hunter’s new lines of outerwear (strong on trenchcoats and ponchos) and knits, along with some non-boot footwear and bags, all combining city slicker fashion with country cousin function. But what advice did McCartney offer her husband about entering the fashion arena? He says, "Keep calm, don't get stressed."