A GLOVE SUPREME
With a range of product lines demanded by healthcare workers, police forces and the military, the handmade gloves made by RHANDERS are more than just fashion items
Rina Hansen was so seduced by the style and craftsmanship of Danish glovemaker Rhanders that she spent 11 years trying to acquire the company. Rina has a background in fashion, having worked on both the design and business sides, while also completing a PhD in omnichannel retailing. She finally concluded a deal for Rhanders in 2018. “It was a life mission,” she says. “I wanted to safeguard and nurture this old brand, which is such an important part of our cultural heritage. I want to keep this craft alive and pass it on to the next generation.”
Gloves were once Denmark’s most important export, but Rhanders is the country’s last remaining traditional glovemaker. The company was founded in 1811 and has origins that stretch back centuries. For several decades, its bestselling item for men has been the driving glove, made from lambskin that is just 0.5mm thick. Each pair takes half a day to produce and there are only 20 people in the world who are capable of stitching the fine “full piqué” seams. This makes it a rare as well as beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Under Rina Hansen, Rhanders will collaborate with other Danish crafts, including specialist belt and bag artisans. But while Rina is determined to keep these traditional skills alive, she also wishes to innovate.
“It is fantastic to nurture and document traditional craftsmanship but, if you don’t make products that are desirable for people now, it is just a museum piece,” she says. Innovations include touch technology, which allows people to use touchscreens without removing their gloves, and an antibacterial treatment that protects hands from dirt and disease. Launched in 2019, these were made available to local schools and care workers during the Covid19 pandemic.
While these gloves feel and look wonderful, they are more than fashion items. Rhanders supplies the military, police and air force along with the Danish royal family. “We have made gloves for SWAT teams, for MI5, the FBI and commercial airlines,” says Rina. “These are gloves that need to work. The FBI use it for fast-roping – they need a glove so thin that they can operate a gun but strong enough to abseil down a rope. Our gloves are exceptionally fine and strong. They feel like a second skin that will last you a lifetime.”