Hancock Vulcanised Articles are truly hand-made. Our expert coat-makers produce unique garments in vulcanised rubberised cloth, bonded using a traditional manufacturing process that has remained virtually unchanged for over 175 years. Two-layers of cloth are bonded with a layer of rubber, creating an impenetrable barrier that ensures the finished cloth is 100% waterproof.
We are the only outerwear company in the world working with the original bonding mill that was used by Hancock and Macintosh since their innovation captured the world’s attention.
As dedicated creatives, we learn from the generations of skilled artisans who came before us, while constantly striving towards the development of new products, just as Hancock himself would expect of us.
Each Article is first cut, then sewn by our team of machinists before it is passed to one of our 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.
MAKING A HANCOCK VULCANISED ARTICLE
Step 1: Shears
Tailors shears are used to cut by hand our specially made rubber bonded (vulcanised) cloth. The shears are used in all trim and detailed work on our Articles.
Step 2: Glue
The specially formulated rubber solution that we use to glue together and waterproof all seams guarantee complete protection from the harshest of weather. Made from natural rubber with a few secret ingredients, our solution is still made in Manchester, by the great grandson of the founder.
Step 3: Hand
The index finger is the most important tool used in the hand making of our Hancock Vulcanised Articles. The skills required takes several years to master, ensuring the correct amount of rubber solution is loaded onto the finger for spreading (a process known as smearing) of all seams and hem lines.
Step 4: Tape
Vulcanised cotton tape is applied by hand, over the glued interior seam to guarantee a fully-waterproof garment. A tricky technique to master, a wooden domed tailors block is used for support underneath the garment when forming arm holes and hoods.
Step 5: Finish
These two traditional tools are used to finish the garment. The roller is used by the coat maker to apply pressure along the interior taped seam to ensure the tape is firmly bonded to the glue. The cleaner is used to remove any excess glue that may have spread outside of the tape; producing a clean finish to the interior of the garment.
Thomas Hancock founded the rubber industry in Great Britain. He was born at Marlborough in Wiltshire, the third of twelve children of a lumber merchant and a cabinet-maker. Around 1815 Hancock went into the stagecoach business with one of his brothers in London. the need for an effective waterproofing agent – for coaches, drivers and passengers – drew Hancock’s attention to rubber. In April 1820 he patented India-rubber springs for various types of clothing such as gloves and suspenders. The Hancock brothers then stated an “elastic works” to manufacture items using the rubber springs.
Searching for a more effective way to process his raw material and use rubber remnants, Hancock in 1820 invented his most important device, the rubber masticator. He designed a machine with revolving teeth that tore up rubber scraps. To Hancock’s surprise, the shredded bits adhered into a solid mass of rubber that could then be pressed into moulds into solid wood blocks or rolled into sheets. Hancock’s masticator, which was perfected in 1821, made rubber manufacture commercially viable and gave birth to the rubber industry. Hancock called his machine a “pickle” and kept the process secret for over 10 years.
The advantage of the Hancock rubber masticator caught the interest of Charles Macintosh (1766-1843), 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. The two men eventually became partners in the manufacture of waterproof items.
In the same year, Thomas Hancock patented elastication for use in clothing – elasticated cuffs for warmth, elasticated pockets to prevent pick-pockets and also elasticated waists.
After careful experimentation, Hancock found that Siphonia Elastica provided the greatest amount and finest quality of natural rubber. The rubber tree was subsequently hand drawn by Thomas Hancock at the Royal Botanical Gardens in 1856 and today is the signature print of Hancock Vulcanised Articles.