Dan Hanvey, Head of Menswear at Superdry, has spent a career experiencing the industry, exploring fresh ways to incorporate history and sub cultures into design whilst remaining inspired and generating new ideas. Treading the line between lifestyle and fashion, Dan has worked for FatFace, RipCurl and White Stuff. Having been at Superdry for seven years, we look back at how it all began...with Graduate Fashion Week!
Graduate Fashion Week provides a platform for emerging fashion graduates to showcase their work regardless of the specific discipline. You have elevated to the position of Head of Menswear Design at Superdry! What appeals to you about design?
What appeals to me about design is ‘out of the box thinking’. You don’t just look to apparel for inspiration, history and sub cultures can be looked at in a new and fresh way. Photography can also generate a stem of energy which creates ideas that can become current if twisted in a new way.
Designing language with graphics and logos, as well as defining this, is so key to my current role and is what appeals to me at this current time. I look for this all around me in the destinations I travel to.
Tell us a bit more about your career journey since showing at Graduate Fashion Week.
After GFW I was lucky enough to be snapped up and given my first chance in design with Limited Brands in NY. This was purely down to GFW, as from there I then worked with lifestyle brands such as Ripcurl Surfwear, FatFace, White Stuff. I’ve now been with Superdry for the last 9 years.
How did your education at Northumbria University, prepare you for an extensive career in the fashion industry?
My time at Northumbria University was greatly helped by the fact that it was combined with a year’s placement. I had a year out in industry with Nigel Cabourn and the knowledge and mentoring I received from Nigel and Gary Janes, now at Barbour, really set me up for my final year. To look at my ideas in a commercial context and to have an eye for detail; my tutors at the university really helped me find my design handwriting and to learn to focus these down and visualise a design outcome. This combined set me up particularly well to work in the fashion industry.
Many say that the industry is undergoing a huge change, with sustainability, diversity and responsibility becoming huge themes. Do you have any opinions on these movements?
I feel that we have to ask where clothes are coming from as consumers, and ethically this is really important. If it’s cheap, it’s cheap for a reason, and we have to have responsibility as an industry to monitor this. We should do our best to incorporate sustainable fabrics where they can be used, and they should be used because it’s the right thing to do.
Has there been a defining moment of your career so far?
For me joining Superdry and working with founder James Holder for 7 years took me on a creative journey that felt no other brand I’d worked for. It was all about product and is such a design led creative company that since taking over the mantle of Head of Menswear Design I have strived to carry these ideals to my designers and team. Another was when I was working for Rip Curl as I loved surfing and skating and grew up in the eighties era of that, so to work for them felt like going full circle to where my love of clothing started.
What were your experiences at Graduate Fashion Week like?
My experience of GFW was one of opportunity and a springboard to showcase my talent. It was such a big event for me and the pinnacle of my final year. All the people watching and the buzz and energy was everywhere. I think that GFW is something to be proud of for all involved especially in terms of what it gives back - without giving back, how can we spot the next talent?
What about menswear design at the moment, are you finding interesting and appealing?
At the moment what I find particularly interesting are the ideas from Virgil Abloh in regards to how he tackles a project. This idea is about taking iconic styles and adapting them 10-15% and looking at them with fresh eyes. By doing this you make something more current and now. This thoroughly appeals to my design sense - you can’t go on reinventing something all the time - his collab with Nike typifies this.
Lastly, to any students that are reading this in admiration of your career-what advice would you give to the students hoping to showcase this year?
My advice to students would be have clear handwriting as a designer, be adaptable and always strive to learn new languages and areas of clothing be it graphics, knitwear, jersey, wovens... being an all-round designer and being adaptable in a commercial world is key.
Interview by Annabel Waterhouse-BIggins