|Charles Macintosh, Founder|
|Products||Rubberised coats and accessories|
The Mackintosh or raincoat (abbreviated as mac or mack) is a form of waterproof raincoat, first sold in 1824, made out of rubberised fabric. The Mackintosh is named after its Scottish inventor Charles Macintosh, though many writers add a letter k (this variant spelling "Mackintosh" is now standard ).
Although the Mackintosh style of coat has become generic, a genuine Mackintosh coat should be made from rubberised or rubber laminated material.
It has been claimed that the fabric was invented by the surgeon James Syme but then copied and patented by Charles Macintosh; however this reference is jejune and cites no supporting evidence. An exhaustive history of the invention of the mackintosh was published by Schurer in 1952. The essence of Macintosh's process was the sandwiching of an impermeable layer of a solution of rubber in naphtha (derived from tar) between two layers of fabric. Syme did not propose the sandwich idea. Merely to waterproof garments with rubber was an old idea, and was practised in pre-Columbian times by Aztecs, who impregnated fabric with latex. Later, French scientists made balloons gas-tight (and incidentally, impermeable) by impregnating fabric with rubber dissolved in turpentine; however, this solvent was not satisfactory for making wearing apparel.
In 1830 Macintosh's company merged with the clothing company of Thomas Hancock in Manchester. Hancock had also been experimenting with rubber coated fabrics since 1819. Production of rubberised coats soon spread all over the UK. Every kind of coat was produced with rubberized material including riding coats and coats supplied to the British army, British railways and UK police forces.
Early coats had problems with smell, stiffness, and a tendency to melt in hot weather, but Hancock further improved their waterproof fabrics, patenting a method for vulcanising rubber in 1843 which solved many of the problems.
In the mid 1990s the Mackintosh brand owner, Traditional Weatherwear, was on the verge of closing its factory in Cumbernauld near Glasgow. Around the turn of the 21st century, senior staff members acquired the company and established the traditional rubberised Mackintosh coat as an upmarket brand in its own right. The company collaborated with leading fashion houses such as Gucci, Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Liberty. The coats became particularly popular with Japanese women, and the company won a Queen's Award for Enterprise in 2000 for its success in international trade. In December 2003 the company name was formally changed to Mackintosh.
In 2007 Mackintosh was bought by Tokyo firm Yagi Tsusho. With the backing of its parent company Mackintosh has continued to expand its reputation and marketing operations. In January 2011 the company opened its first fashion store in London.
- The Macintosh - the Paternity of an Invention by H. Schurer, Transactions of the Newcomen Society, 1951-53 Vol 28.
- "The rebirth of the Mackintosh fashion label - The Scotsman". News.scotsman.com. 2011-02-08. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
- "Mrs Mac is back - The Scotsman". Thescotsman.scotsman.com. 2002-10-03. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
- Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 6th ed. (2007), p. 1668
- "Whonamedit - James Syme". Whonamedit. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
- "The Macintosh: The Paternity of an Invention." Transactions of the Newcomen Society, 28(1), pp. 77–87 
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- "Return of the Mac: The reinvention of Mackintosh - Features - Fashion". The Independent. 2007-10-08. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
- "The Queen's Awards for Enterprise - GOV.UK". Queensawards.org.uk. 2013-09-30. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
- "BBC News - Mackintosh opens first fashion store in London". Bbc.co.uk. 2011-01-21. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
- Thomas Hancock: Personal Narrative of the Origin and Progress of the Caoutchouc or India-Rubber Manufacture in England, 1st Published 1857, London, Longman, Brown, Green, Longmanns & Roberts. Complete e-text scanned and edited by L.Element.– autobiography of the leading UK pioneer of rubber and rubber-proofing technology.
- Excerpts from "The Macintosh: the Paternity of an Invention" – history of the invention of latex waterproofing
- The Macintosh Factory in Manchester - Outline history at lakelandelements.com
- Mackintosh Rainwear – history.
- bouncing-balls.com – timeline of rubber development.