As you should all know by now Mr Hare, the brand not the man, was conceived at a roadside tapas bar in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Andalucia, Spain on July 23rd 2008. The brand was born out of his realisation that there just were not enough shoes in the world that he liked. Thankfully, for us he decided to do something about it. Ever the shoe aficionado, Hare looked to the woven leather shoes of an old gentleman sitting next to him, admired them but decided that with a few tweaks they could be awesome. Moments later the brand was born. From this point it took a mere three hundred and sixty days for his creations to land on the shop floor at Dover Street Market. This whirlwind of success has since seen three more collections, all of have deservedly received widespread acclaim and resulted in an ever increasing stockist list. The debut collection was all about making the shoes that he had never quite found in his life, killer evening shoes that could be worn through the day as well. The shophomore collection was concentrated on looking fly when kicking it on the equator. The third crossed the English Channel for inspiration and focused our attention on Paris and the French New Wave Film movement. Whilst in Ain't no App for That Hare showcased shapes and materials that I've never come across before. With each season, Mr Hare pushes it that bit more.
Now, it is with great pleasure that we unveil Mr Hare's fifth collection. Entitled Idolescents, it is a reimagination of all of the shoes that he wanted as a teenager but could never afford in addition to all of the ones that he could afford made better. Simply, Idolescents. The collection itself is huge this season with additions of Fagin, Geronimo, London Derby, Isambard, Hannibal, Mitchell and Joplin to name but a few new characters. There is now a sense of a complete collection, a shoe wardrobe. The brief for Mr Hare is a deceptively simple one, to create an option for every man, for any occasion with added Hare flair. However, in addition to growing his offering and four seasons on, Hare still sits down every season and looks at how even his best selling models can be improved, refined and elevated to the next level. To mark the next chapter of Mr Hare, we sat down with the man himself to take a closer look at his latest designs and talk through the continued rise of his shoe company...
The new additions recently assembled at the Showroom Next Door.
SS: Entitled Idolescents, your fifth collection is a reimagination of all of the shoes that he wanted as a teenager but could never afford and all of the ones that he could afford made better. Could you talk us through the starting point, which shoes inspired the concept and forced you to Hare-ify them?
Mr Hare: Most of the answer is in the question really Stevie why don't I just interview you next time? I have to have a good reason to make a shoe and I don't want to just make things that already exist. Shoes to me are all about the feeling I got the first time I put them on. My first Rudeboy loafers. My first DMs. My first penny loafers. My first brogues. My first Timberlands. My first Gucci loafers. My first Jordans. Me and those shoes could kill any other shoe in the room, bounce, be nonchalant, skip in the rain, dance, walk up a mountain and back down the other side. I took those feelings as a starting point and made some Mr. Hare shoes to do that stuff in.
Getting to know the new lineup. Say hello to the Penny Loafers, Fagin, Isambard and Hannibal.
SS: The collection is huge this season with additions of Fagin, Geronimo, London Derby, Isambard, Hannibal, Mitchell and Jopling to name but a few new characters. Could you introduce these new carefully crafted characters to us?
Mr Hare: What can i say? I know a little bit about a lot of things. All will be explained closer to the season when the AW11 web site goes up in June.
The Hannibal eleven in two colourways.
SS: One of the most striking additions is the Hannibal boot (both eight hole and eleven hole). Here, rather than create an imitation hiking or sportswear boot, you looked to the classic heavy boot, the Dr Marten and made them instantly better with the use of beautiful leathers, sheep skin tongue, vibram sole and of course one extra hole to name but a few features. Could you talk us through your design approach in this instance?
Mr Hare: When it was snowing last Christmas I didn't have a suitable pair of Mr. Hare shoes to wear in that weather. I had to resort to my trusty hiking boots I got from Low Pressure (RIP). So I had to resolve that situation. Now Mr. Hare is many things but it is not a faux Hiking company or a faux work-wear company or a faux ski boot company. Mr. Hare is a skinhead company though. Mr. Hare is an 80s club kid company. Mr. Hare is a warehouse rave company. Mr. Hare is a festival company, is a fashion company and very proud to be all those things. So when I had to make a boot that would get me to those places and act like those people the Hannibal is the result.
The sexy profile of the Hannibal. Beautiful leathers, calf lined and pad, sheep skin tongue, more pronounced toe, Vibram sole and eleven holes instead of DM's ten. Pushing it that bit more.
SS: Here, you experiment with direct branding for the first time on your shoes. With the Fagin and Hannibal boots, we see the subtle presence of the four hares and a swan for the first time. Why now? Was it differentiate your offering for this season? To open new markets?
Mr Hare: I just never made anything before that would have benefited from having our lovely logo on it. The Hare Four Swans logo depicts a confident Hare in the intimate company of four beautiful swans, a situation we can all appreciate or aspire to. It's a beautiful logo which was drawn by the super talented Marley Lohr who also shoots all the Mr. Hare imagery. I love the logo and it looks awesome on the side of my boots. It had nothing to do with world domination.
A closer look at the Hannibal's beautiful leather and Vibram sole.
SS: This season also marks experimentation with the classic Derby for the first time. Of course, there is the favoured Orwell but that is a far dressier version. The London Derby is much more classic in its persuasion. What attracted you to take this shoe icon on?
Mr Hare: I am trying to make a complete mens footwear company. As I learn more about the different shoes that exist I am going to attempt to Mr. Hare them up. I started with oxfords because I was obsessed with the elegant and refined nature of them. Derby's are more of a Northern European construction which allow feet with higher arches easier access than oxfords. They also work better with thicker socks. When I started making shoes, my head was definitely dancing around the Mediterranean in a constant endless summer of elegant evening soirees and boat parties. The last two winters in London certainly added to my shoe perspective hence the introduction of heavier Dainite soled derby's and boots for kicking it Mr. Hare style in the slush.
The London Derby.
SS: Alongside the new additions, you have once again reworked older favourites. From collection to collection, there is a sense of you refining your creations as you go. Now on your fifth collection, what have you learnt, both in terms of the craft of shoemaking and what makes a Mr Hare shoe?
Mr Hare: There is a reason why all the classic shoe companies have such great classic shoes. They have years and years of experience of designing, cutting, constructing and presenting their shoes. My shoe making history goes back exactly two years, six months and two days. Through deliberately mistreating my own Mr. Hare shoes and correspondence with other Mr. Hare shoe wearers around the world and constantly looking at what other shoe companies do and new young shoe design talents, I learn something new every single day. Even with our top selling shoes I sit down every season and look at how they can be improved or refined.
The stunning Geronimo.
SS: Once again, the collection showcases shapes and materials that I've never come across before. The natural grain patent being one of the standouts. How do you source your leathers? Can you tell us a bit about the tanneries that you work with?
Mr Hare: Without wanting to sound like one of those handcrafted, years of experience, bench made Jizfests that get posted on YouTube by everyone these days, everything Mr. Hare is sourced in the Tuscan hills by Italians. Not wishing to sound racist but Italians have a pride level which most other races lack. The things they make are an extension and 3D manifestation of that national pride. They don't massage the cows or play classical music to them to make the leather better. No. What happens is that when the skins get to the tannery, the people who work there won't let those skins out the door until they are better than skins from anywhere else in the world. It's all about reputation. It costs more, but it is better. Our main tannery this season is called Conceria 800 who pride themselves on making the finest vegetable tanned skins available.
Meet Isambard. A feat of shoe engineering.
SS: With Idolescents there is a sense of a complete collection, a shoe wardrobe. An option for every man, for any occassion. How conscious are you in your desire to create a complete offering?
Mr Hare: Mr. Hare is a men's shoe company of the modern age. I have no interest in making I-pad cases or women's stilettos or plastic action figures. For me it has to be about rocking stush shoes 24/7 sun, rain, wind, snow, hurricane. All day, all weather with just a little Mr. Hare flair. It's a very tight brief but one that will keep me busy for the rest of my life.
It is difficult not to fall for this boots charms. High shine leather, Vaccetta and suede, so it will age beautifully.
SS: Looking back over the collection now, what are you most proud of?
Mr Hare: I am most proud of how good the styles in the first Purest Form collection are because every season, no matter what I throw at them in terms of new designs, they still hold their own. We definitely produce better and better shoes each season yet the Miller, Fitzgerald, Orwell, Genet and even the Kerouac still stand up as genuine classic Mr. Hare shoes.
The popular Bazin from last season in new materials.
SS: Now, Idolescents focuses your design attentions on the shoes of your youth. Having just been treated to menswear fashion weeks across the globe and the release of SS11 collections landing in stores, is there anything that you'd particularly like to get your hands on to reimagine?
Mr Hare: I am done with the re-imagining. It was a period where I went back to my own personal shoe experience to try and replicate the feelings I had growing up and hitting those shoe moments. From now on it will be strictly new hits.
The Desert boot. Every shoe company needs to offer a desert boot.
SS: Since conceiving Mr Hare by a roadside Tapas bar in July 2008 your rise has been remarkable and it must have been something of a whirlwind for you. How have the last four seasons been for Mr Hare?
Mr Hare: Awesome. For the first time in my life I feel like I am in a constant state of progression. I have driven down a lot of cul de sacs in my life and right now I am headed west following the sun on a big empty road with a full tank of gas with no fixed destination. I am in charge. The last four seasons have been mad busy and some days things go wrong, but when it is you who has to be busy and fix problems for your own cause then you will be amazed how much easier it is. I can definitely say I am happier and closer to my good friends and enjoying the simpler things in life tenfold.
Still one of my favourites, the Genet tasseled loafer.
The Genet utilises fine Italian suede and the swagger of a thousand Latin lovers.
SS: Your creations can now be found across the world in an expanding selection of fine retail outlets, from Selfridges to Collete, Beams to Gravity Pope, Joyce to Mr Porter. Can you tell us about any new stockists you've recently picked up as I know our readers are always keen to get their hands on a pair of your shoes?
Mr Hare: As with anything in life you can only hope to hook up with bright spark people, totally switched on and doing what they do in the total belief of actually doing something as well as it can possibly be done. Never resting on their laurels but making each season twice as good as the previous. Game recognise Game. Independent retailers !! They cost more but they keep the standard high so cheap ass retailers can't slip. I used to own an independent boutique in London and it is one of the most difficult jobs I ever had. Good independent retailers take the most risks and lead where the rest of the retail supply chain follow. In hard times they get hit the hardest and in good times their rents become astronomical but without those stores there would be no new brands. New talent would not stand a chance. Therefore I implore you to support your local neighbourhood independent, even if they don't stock Mr. Hare.
A closer look at the London Derby.
SS: Finally, what can we expect from Mr Hare in the coming seasons?
Mr Hare: Don't ever expect anything in life because you will probably get run over by a truck coming the other way
For AW11, the Onyx becomes the Jopling.
Mr Hare is a work in progress. A stunning work that just gets better and better. From season to season there is is constant evolution and revolution. With a brand like Mr. Hare, the whole process is a learning experience for this shoe obsessive. In our first interview with the designer back in February 2009 which marked the launch of his debut collection, Hare conceded that his best work was yet to come. "Design is an ongoing process. You start somewhere and by constantly re examining that start point or imagining new start points you end up somewhere else." With Idolescents, Hare once again proves that he can raise the bar each season whilst creating shoes that we fall head over heels for.
The continued rise of Mr Hare continues.
Top of his shoe game but still striving to go that bit higher and to push it that bit harder