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LONDON — Hunter, the British brand known for its rubber Wellington boots in a rainbow of shades has named Alasdhair Willis to the new post of creative director.
Willis, a London-based creative entrepreneur and the husband of Stella McCartney, will work closely with the new chief executive officer James Seuss and the brand’s soon-to-be-named design director. The first full collection will be for the fall 2014 season.
An announcement is expected today.
“Hunter is an iconic heritage brand, and it has a wonderful story to tell. Alasdhair is going to be the one telling that story. He has a clear vision and focus and really feels the brand,” said Seuss. “Alasdhair will define the vision for the brand and develop our creative voice, while working closely with our strong commercial team to bring the world of Hunter to consumers worldwide.”
Hunter has also named Fabrizio Stroppa to the post of commercial sales director. Stroppa was formerly head of sales at Mulberry Group, and has 25 years’ experience working for luxury brands including Donna Karan and Giorgio Armani. Willis and Stroppa will report to Seuss, who was appointed in December.
The appointments are a major step in the repositioning of Hunter under its new majority shareholders, Searchlight Capital Partners LP The brand was established in 1856 as the North British Rubber Company, and has more than 150 years of boot-making expertise. Hunter’s Original green Wellington was first produced in 1955.
Today, Hunter sells a wide range of other footwear as well as bags, socks and accessories. It also holds two Royal Warrants.
“Hunter is a fantastic British brand with enormous potential. The business has already built a strong foundation for growth with its current product offering, centered on the original boot,” said Willis, who will continue to work at the brand and communications consultancies he founded, Announcement and The Anonymous Partner.
“Going forward, we will be focused on expanding the footwear business while building on the exciting opportunities in other categories such as outerwear. We will also be clearly defining the brand’s position in the market and communicating our unique vision across all platforms,” he added.
Seuss and Willis have known each other for 15 years: They met when Seuss was running Tiffany & Co. in the U.K. and Willis was the publisher of Wallpaper magazine. Seuss served as ceo of Stella McCartney until 2004, when he joined Harry Winston, where he was president. Willis succeeded Seuss as a company director at Stella McCartney in 2006.
Seuss said Hunter’s first major retail effort will be an online store that will launch within the year. Last year, he told WWD that the brand would begin opening stores in Europe, the U.S. and Asia and that he hopes to introduce the brand in China. Currently, the brand doesn’t have any retail stores, with all its merchandise sold via wholesale channels.
As for the brand’s positioning, Seuss said his aim is to offer “amazing product at the best prices possible. We want to make this a fun brand, a brand for the family.”
He added that a collaboration is in the works, and would be revealed soon.