Home and dry: designing a raincoat

Designed and handcrafted by KerrieALDO, the Dundee Raincoat pairs artisan skills and attention to detail with the original performance fabric, waxed cotton. Designer Kerrie takes us through her design process.

Written by: Kerrie Alexander

Collaborating with a design museum and a heritage textiles factory to design and handcraft a contemporary raincoat has been a fascinating experience for me.

The key inspiration of my design comes from V&A Dundee’s building itself: sleek design, clean lines, minimal but bold. Early on in the design process, I was thinking about what else a ‘Dundee Raincoat’ should look and feel like. I asked followers of my social channels for three words to positively describe what Dundee meant to them. The words that stood out to me were innovative, creative, welcoming, friendly and feeling positive about the city’s future.

So, as well as the museum’s modern architecture having a big influence on the design of the coat, I also wanted the design to reflect the city’s heritage, ongoing resilience and creativity.

I design and handmake all of my coats. I use Halley Stevensons’ waterproof waxed cotton, a performance fabric they have pioneered the development of for over 150 years. It’s still manufactured at their Baltic Works factory in Dundee.

It was also at Halley Stevensons, in their archives, where I first came across ‘the slicker’. A hooded coat worn by fisherman, this too had a big influence on my design. My coat nods to this, though I brought it up to date to align with V&A Dundee’s sleek, minimalist design. Having been born, brought up and lived in Dundee for most of my life, I knew that the Dundee Raincoat had to have a hood!

As well as using superior fabrics, intricate details were important too, such as contrast detailing and paying attention to things like pocket placement. The coat was designed with my key design aesthetics in mind. These include my almost obsessive level of attention to detail, functional design and a hint at one of my key styling points: an inner patch pocket made from Ancient Dundee Old Heavy Weight Tartan.

This pattern was produced from a formula contained in the Wilson Pattern Book (Wilson of Bannockburn were Tartan Manufacturers in the 18th century). The pattern had lain dormant for 160 years and was recently resurrected by the Ben Nevis Handloom Weavers of Dundee.

I wanted to go a little bold with the colours, so I chose navy and orange as my two colourways. I haven’t used either of these colours before and love how striking they are. For me, the colours really fit the mood of the project as a whole.

Designing a bag to match was a fun addition to the project. The bag comes in the same two colourways as the coat, with opposing contrast details. The pocket on the bag features a window-like opening to reveal a new colour, which reminded me of looking out to the Tay from the windows of the museum.

If I was to describe the Dundee Raincoat in one line it would be a bit like V&A Dundee itself: a minimal outer with flashes of inspiration on the inner! Working on this project has been brilliant. I’ve enjoyed being part of an exciting collaboration, where museum, manufacturer and modern maker unite.

Our KerrieALDO Dundee Raincoats (£200) and bags (£45) are exclusively available in our shop.