A Favourite of Sir Elton John, We Hear About Nottingham Fashion Brand Daniel Hanson

Words: Addie Kenogbon
Photos: Adrian Vitelleschi Cook
Saturday 25 February 2023
reading time: min, words

Launched by the late Daniel Hanson and his wife Julie Hanson in 1989, Nottingham luxury dressing gown and fine garment design and manufacturer brand, Daniel Hanson, has garnered an elite following for over three decades. Its premium fabrics and exquisite designs have made it a household name in Hollywood, amongst royalty and around the world. We catch up with Associate Julian Hanson and his mother, Managing Director Julie Hanson, to find out more about this special family-run business…


For over three decades, Daniel Hanson's iconic garments have made a name for themselves amongst royals, nobility and celebs, but what makes them so timeless?
Our garments are not made to be transient - trends fade and move on, but quality does not. We believe that our clothing should survive us, be handed down to the next generation, and refurbished and repaired rather than discarded. What we create is very simple and beautiful, a high-quality product - often designed specifically for the wearer – which is carefully thought about and more likely to reflect the home interior than yearly changing outdoor wardrobes. This is a point which narrates the permanence and timeless sensations of home and how we dress and behave there… It’s different to the outside world.

Daniel Hanson's exquisite garments have been worn by the likes of Elton John in John Lewis' Christmas advert, but can you mention any other famous names who've worn your pieces?
My favourites over the years might be the actresses Catherine Zeta-Jones (garments produced for the 1999 movie Entrapment) and Halle Berry. We also like it when there are musicians like Mick Fleetwood and Ozzy Osbourne - but those were orders from a few years ago. More recently, on the shoot of our DH22 campaign, we worked with Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand) and produced a pair of complementing gowns for him. Regarding the direction of imagery we produce, I only want to work with artists who I know personally, not models. The atmosphere of working together is sincere, there is no acting within our photoshoots.

We have plenty of celebrity customers, and we do a lot of bespoke work for them, but it is always paid for. We abhor a celebrity culture that expects to be given things for free. As such, we do not involve ‘influencers’ in our business. If you see a celebrity wearing one of our garments it’s because we have forged a relationship with them. The design and manufacture of our products are how we and our amazing staff earn their living, and our self-worth is vested in being paid for what we do.  

Many of our staff have worked with us for over twenty years. We have wonderful, deep roots, and proper connections with individuals in this city

Can you tell us more about the design and manufacturing process?
Firstly, all our products are made-to-order, including our fabrics which we order very small runs of, from the world’s best fabric producers all around the world. We employ only naturally deriving textiles which generally come from animal and plant fibres - cashmere, silk, wool and linen. Exquisitely patterned, pure, woven silk jacquards are the statement pieces – each of us usually falls in love with a different new cloth upon its arrival.

A small team of just six create all our work - Chris, Jenny, Jayne, Nicholas, Rebecca and Steve. Each item is produced in-house at our premises on Nuthall Road. For a bespoke customer, their order would be individually cut to bespoke measurements, each step of the way consulting with them to guide and decide upon design decisions. These include pure silk lining colours, trim choices and, of course, personalised touches including embroideries and embellishments. Garments are finished and packed as the final quality control, often by one of the Hanson family.

The brand returned to Nottingham in 2004, but what is it about the city that makes it so special?
Nottingham is unpretentious and full of real people, plenty of whom practise creative and productive works quietly and without boast. Many of our staff have worked with us for over twenty years. We have wonderful, deep roots, and proper connections with individuals in this city which colours and brings to life our activities here, at work and at home. We are also close enough here to have strong links in London, which is key for us because a great deal of our customers are international.

What have been some key highlights of the Daniel Hanson journey so far?
There have been so many, starting from when Daniel met with the then Harrods nightwear buyer on a train in London and discussed his vision for “the world’s best luxury dressing gown”. In 1989, Harrods bought the debut collection, financed in part by Julie Hanson’s personal savings (the banks all laughed them away)! 

The first 300 or so gowns produced were cut on the kitchen table at Cromwell Street. In 1992, the business expanded into ‘Radford Mill’ on Ilkeston Road and occupied a shop/showroom on Canning Circus close by. In 1997, Sir Elton John first purchased from Daniel Hanson. Then, in 2005, The Independent called Daniel Hanson “The Sistine Chapel Ceiling of Dressing Gown Luxury”.

Hundreds of Daniel Hanson outfits were made for the 47 Ronin film. Can you tell us more about that?
Daniel was contacted in 1998 by English costume designer Penny Rose, regarding some garments for Entrapment - she had found our gowns in Neiman Marcus in Los Angeles and ever since had stayed in close contact. Penny called upon Daniel’s expertise for several projects over the years, and enlisted Daniel’s help for a huge portion of the garments shown in the final film.

Looking back, I could feel his passion and energy for that project was enormous; I think he loved the pressure and all the deadlines. During that time, our small workforce operated in shifts to make sure all the pieces could be turned around quickly enough to be on set as they were needed. He designed around 265 individual pieces, some of which were replicated 12-30 times, so there were a lot of garments.

We have plenty of celebrity customers, and we do a lot of bespoke work for them, but it is always paid for. We abhor a celebrity culture that expects to be given things for free

In addition to your limited-edition collections, you also do bespoke pieces. Can you tell us one of the most interesting bespoke pieces you've created?
A sizable portion of the business is now bespoke work directly designed with the customer. It’s personally connecting and very satisfying. One such piece was a gown made for Michael Jordan in the late nineties after one of the very many NBA wins. It was commissioned for him by one of the American department stores. It took around 5.5m of cloth to produce a single gown for him (the average yield is 3.5m). 

Can you tell us about any current or upcoming collections?
Nick [Hanson] has been working on a truly unique set of very special artisanal creations. They’re wonderful, one-of-a-kind pieces that are gallery worthy. We’re working on a release plan for them presently but it’s likely that September 2023 will see those out in the world. In the very near future, we’re excited to be working with Harrods’ women’s department again this season, on a new set of limited edition kimono, due in-store around spring, all being well. The cloths have just arrived to us for those styles, and we’re all very excited about the new designs we’re about to make.

What else does 2023 have in store for Daniel Hanson?
New collections, a perfectly colourful spring summer collection of waxed cotton, one-of-a-kind matching paired pieces. A delightful new look book, silk jacquard kimono, a few cottaging jackets, maybe even something for the kids. Expect the unexpected, but no need to change the handwriting!


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