British fashion makes a splash with raincoats, high-heeled wellies

Sat Feb 15, 2014 4:02pm EST
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By Li-mei Hoang

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's fashion designers kicked off the second day of London Fashion Week with quirky weather-themed collections featuring Wellingtons boots and printed raincoats as the rest of the nation struggled with the wettest winter on record.

Boot-maker Hunter, a favorite of the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton, showcased its latest autumn/winter collection on Saturday, with live entertainment from magician Dynamo.

Models splashed their way down the runway, which was decorated with real trees, in thick knitted jumpers, neoprene bomber jackets and rubber duffle coats in bold primary colors.

Woollen long johns, high-heeled Wellington boots and PVC jackets also featured in the collection, which was watched by U.S. Vogue Editor Anna Wintour and fashion designer Stella McCartney, whose husband Alasdhair Willis is creative director of the brand.

Hunter's show on the London Fashion Week calendar marks a first for the 150-year British brand, which received substantial investment to expand internationally after U.S. private equity firm Searchlight bought a majority stake in 2011.

The British fashion industry has grown 20 percent over past four years and is worth around 26 billion pounds ($43.50 billion), according to the British Fashion Council.

"We're seeing investment from lots of different areas," said British Fashion Council CEO Caroline Rush. "I believe that investment from the Kering Group and LVMH has really solidified that there is an opportunity here."

Designer Orla Kiely also based her collection on Britain's famously wet weather, with a "cats and dogs" rain theme featuring printed raincoats, elegantly tailored shift dresses and thick knitted jumpers in olive green, pale pink, ochre and charcoal grey.   Continued...

A model presents a creation from the Hunter Autumn/Winter 2014 collection during London Fashion Week February 15, 2014. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett