Vintage Macintosh and Mac Inspired Coats – A Brief History and Guide
Companies in the North of England had been experimenting with rubber coating fabrics since the early 1800’s in order to benefit from the waterproof qualities rubber provides. It was 1823 before Charles Macintosh, whose name is now synonymous with the rainproof overcoat that has come to be known as the ‘Mac’ or ‘Mack’, patented waterproofed cloth. Macintosh is also often spelt as Mackintosh and refers to the same company.
The Mac is typified by its simple, lightweight and waterproof design. The earliest examples are incredibly rare today. This is not just due to it being hard to find good examples of clothing from this era in general but specifically to the Mac, issues with the rubber that was used at the time being subject to cracking, melting and general wear, contributing to their scarcity.
The process of vulcanizing the rubber began in 1843. This is a chemical process that allows the rubber to take on new elastic characteristics and in doing so it becomes less brittle and more suited to creating a durable material for making coats. Vulcanization was also being used in other industries; for example, it was used to make shoes and tyres.
One of the worlds leading manufacturers of vulcanized rubber, Dunlop Rubber, acquired the Macintosh business in 1925. At this time, production was increased and most of the earliest examples of Macs that can be found today are likely to be from around this time.
The Mac is now a term that is often given to any garment that takes on the characteristics of being a lightweight and waterproof overcoat or jacket, not necessarily from the Macintosh company. Indeed, the company nearly became a victim of its own success, with other brands producing ‘Macs’ and sales waning until the brand started to reinvent itself in the 1990’s, collaborating with the likes of Hermes. It was at this time that a sales executive, Daniel Dunko, saw an opportunity to re-establish Macintosh as a leading luxury British brand. Dunko acquired the company and has since worked with designers such as Louis Vuitton and Yohji Yamamoto. The Macintosh Rainwear brand has positioned itself as the best of British and continues to operate out of its factory in Cumberauld, near Glasgow In Scotland.
Source by Scott Forrester