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It turns out that the character invented and played by comedian Jacques Tati is a bit of a cult phenomenon. With a character reminiscent of a traditional, slower world, his struggles with the modern era morphed into a series of cinematic adventures in the 60s and 70s.
The label M.Hulot takes hold of this character and mixes it with a dose of fun and femininity. Producing leather bags that have a heritage, craftsmanship and sensibility to materials and workmanship combined with a contemporary design aesthetic, the brand is a very welcome antidote to heavily branded designer goods and heavy hands.
With all of their designs built to last – the brand also eschews the throwaway culture – Mr Hulot has drawn on British craftsmanship by working with factories in Northamptonshire, Manchester and Somerset while turning Italy and Turkey to get the best leathers. Highlights of the range include the Cona – a perfectly formed bowling bag, the Nova Flap Shopper with its original bucket shape and the Bru with a tribute to the traditional satchel but with a single overlaid strap.
We spoke with the founder and creator of Mr Hulot, an obscure character who lives up to the brand’s artisanal image.
FLUX: I had never met Monsieur Hulot before – the fictitious Frenchman. Can you tell us a bit about him?
M.HULOT: Monsieur Hulot is a character created by Jacques Tati, and presented in a series of films in the 60s and 70s. Unlike most people of the time, Monsieur Hulot likes simplicity! Eschewing the fast and difficult pace of modern life and rejecting the half-baked technology of the times, he eventually found strengths and has now become somewhat of a cult figure.
FLUX: How would you describe his style?
M.HULOT: Its style is classic with a touch of fun. He’s wearing a great swing coat, with slightly too short pants and striped socks. Perfection!
FLUX: There is anonymity on the real people / personalities behind Mr. Hulot. Is it conscious?
M HULOT: Yes, that was conscious, because initially we wanted people to focus on the product and the brand. The designs must speak for themselves! However, we have found that people love to hear from the creator / founder and look behind the brand.
FLUX: How do you get the leather for your range?
M HULOT: We will meet a number of different leather merchants here in the UK, and I am also fortunate to work with a factory which has a large selection of in-house leathers as well as great relationships with Italian tanneries. I have a visit to Istanbul scheduled for the end of May, where I will visit a tannery to examine my Turkish-made leathers from the M.Hulot range. The selection of leather is one of the most enjoyable parts of the design process.
FLUX: Is the collection entirely made in the UK and is it easy to find artisans who can work to the standards you need?
M HULOT: The collection is largely made in the UK, although we have recently expanded our business to Turkey. The designs made in the UK have a more handcrafted feel. The pieces are machine sewn by skilled seamstresses, then undergo a number of manual techniques and finishing processes before they are finished. It can be difficult to find qualified leather workers in the UK and it can take time to understand the requirements and capabilities. We’ve been working with the same small unit for four seasons now, making beautiful pieces that get better with each season.
FLUX: Each leather bag in the range has a very classic but modern look. Do you have a favorite room?
M HULOT: Yes – the Cona bowling bag from SS13 in green / natural. I am totally in love with it! Green puts you in a good mood, and it’s such a classic shape that it really complements an outfit.
FLUX: What is M Hulot carrying in her M Hulot bag?
M HULOT: Mr. Hulot carries three varieties of pipe tobacco, Mr. Hulot Burr’s wallet, National Geographic Magazine, a compass, and when he remembers – his keys.
M. Hulot is available at www.mhulot.co.uk and design-focused retailers such as The Darkroom Bloomsbury.