Monday, 23 February 2009

Style Salvage Speaks to... Mr Hare

Mr Hare is a shoeist. His passion for shoes- as documented on his own blog- has made him a firm favourite on our blogroll. He has recently taken this passion a step further than most and designed his own range of shoes. The range has already had a mention in this month's Monocle (pg 140) and left Thomas Calvocoressi swooning at the fact that it aims to put elegance and craft back into an industry which in many instances has sacrificed quality for gimmicks. It is these distinctly old fashioned values and approach which should be applauded by all and adopted by the men's fashion industry on a whole. His debut collection is called "Purest Form" and his passion for fine shoes is even more obvious in this collection than on his blog. We caught up with him in his weekend off between presenting at Compass in Las Vegas and London this week....

The complete collection - Oh how we want you all...

Style Salvage: We've long been admirers and readers of your blog because your passion for fine shoes is infectious! when did your passion first ignite? Was there a particular pair of shoes you saw/owned which started it all off?
Mr. Hare: My Mum liked to buy me nice shoes as a kid. I had School Shoes, Play Shoes and Good Shoes. I still buy my shoes in those categories. In my early teenage years my dad handed me down an amazing pair of Chelsea boots with heavy welted soles and this brown aged leather that had been polished to a horse chestnut hew and I was fascinated by how well made they were. When I was eighteen I saved up for a pair of black suede Gucci Loafers with the gold bit. I marched down to Gucci Bond street with £130 cash in my pocket back in '88 and skipped home elated. I had a date that night and I believe the shoes swung it.

SS: You mention feeling let down by the shoe industry, was it this feeling as a let down consumer which led to you launching your own shoe firm?

MH: I think it was a greater calling than that. When people ask me what I do I always wanted to have a really short uncomplicated answer. "I make shoes" has only three syllables. I used to have to say " I work for a marketing company freelance and we do mainly work for fashion, sport or street companies" or " I am head of marketing at J.Lindeberg". 'I make shoes' just sounds so much better. One day i will be able to just say "I'm Mr. Hare!" It's an extra syllable but how dope does it sound?

SS: What makes Mr Hare different from others in the industry and how would you like to see the industry change as a whole?
MH: Don't get me wrong, I would be happy for the industry to stay exactly the way it is. There is a big hole for me to operate in and now I am operating, my whole outlook has shifted. Mr. Hare is all about that feeling you get when you put on a pair of shoes you know are truly bad-ass. You know that feeling? They are the kind of shoes people can't fail to notice. They are not brash or aggressive or over designed, they are elegant, beautiful and romantic. To the wearer they are luxurious and tactile. How many other shoe companies can use those five words in one sentence?

The Black Shoe indentity parade...

SS: How did you get started designing shoes? Did you undertake specific training or was most of your training 'on the job'?
MH: 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. I have no formal design training in any field but I know what I don't like. Undoubtedly my best stuff is yet to come, but my first collection 'Purest Form' is definitely all the shoes I haven't been able to buy anywhere else in the last twenty years.

SS: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to launch their own range of shoes?
MH: Don't bite my shit! Make sure what you do is better than anyone else's and don't be afraid to ask for favours.

SS: Which fellow designers/labels do you admire?
MH: I am YSL obsessed at present as I am no skinny waif boy and Mr. Pilati keeps throwing up shapes that I can rock and not have to be precious about. I have been a Margiela/Raf/Dries devotee for all time just because they are intellectual in their approaches and they make clothes in size 54. I also wish i could afford enough Rick Owens to rock the look but I am not there yet. Shoes wise I really admire Michel Perry. The recent collection he did for J.M.Weston, as I have relentlessly detailed on my blog is exquisite in understated and sculptural detail. I just met Hiroki from Visvim who gave me a personal presentation of the latest collection in Paris and I have to say "I am not worthy". That guy is a walking genius.

Despite some media reports this debut collection is not filled purely by black shoes...The Miller proves this beautifully.

SS: Is there a Mr Hare man/muse?
MH: Good question! I have been playing this little game for about ten years where I ask people to think of a man alive today who has his own incredible style a la Bowie/Ferry/Hendrix. Someone who doesn't employ a stylist and buys their own clothes. Some one who really cuts a dash and always looks incredible. To this day, no one has actually come up with someone. The day someone comes up with someone, that guy will be my muse. As for the Mr. Hare man - It's anyone who believes there is more to life than money, sexual conquests and vanity for vanity's sake.

SS: From the pictures we've seen of the premier collection, the shoes you design seem very smart. Do you think you'd ever want to design trainers?
MH: My next collection is all about how to be 'Elegant/Beautiful/Romantic/Luxurious/Tactile' under summer conditions. As a basis I am taking LA as my inspiration. I am planning a range of shoes that will work everywhere from the red carpet to Melrose to Fairfax to Malibu. Mr. Hare is a surfer and likes nothing more than slipping into flip flops from may through to September so for me this is a challenge I am virtually E rushing to get my teeth into. Shoe stores at present are infested with high tops from every label and their dogs. Mr. Hare has no intention of jumping straight into that quagmire (love that word), I will, however, come at the market with a totally fresh perspective. Watch this space!

SS: You've recently returned from showing at Compass in Las Vegas, how was the reaction to the collection?
MH: I was in Vegas more for research purposes. Mr. Hare is a collection that can only sit in stores with a similar ambition and level of quality to my own. I know who those stores are and they know who they are too. I will not be showing at a tradeshow anytime soon. Compass was a really good show though for casual shoes and sneakers with no time wasters. Every buyer was there to do business so I would really recommend Compass to anyone with dope kicks. The British Shoe Federation will also give you a grant to show there and all you have to do is fill in a questionnaire. Some friends of mine who have just launched a collection called Skive (check them out) showed there and picked up loads of orders.

A glimpse at all of Mr Hare's boots...

SS: In the face of the recession we are seeing the well deserved rise of labels which advocate quality and craftsmanship leaving you well placed. Can you tell about some of the processes which come together to make a pair of your shoes?
MH: I am a great believer in products marketing themselves. You can have the best marketing and advertising in the world but if you pick up the actual product or take the product out of the washing machine and your illusions are shattered then that shit doesn't deserve to live. The credit crunch is actually helping to cleanse the market of such activities. I believe this is why the handcrafted, quality aspect is so prevalent right now. People want to trust the thing they have just parted with cash for. My first collection is made in Italy in a small shoe atelier just outside Florence. I chose Italy because Italians make something beautiful before the bottom line is considered. The city of Florence is a fine example due to the Medicis and what other country in the world could have come up with Ferraris or Osso Bucco. The shoes in the 'Purest Form' collection are made with a blaked construction which involves splicing the leather sole while wet and sewing it directly to the upper. When the leather dries it closes up over the stitching to leave a perfectly clean sole. It's almost as strong as more British, heavy welted construction but obviously more perfect for the southern European climate where everyday rain doesn't have to be a consideration. Explaining all the little intricacies would take up a few pages so I will stop there for now.

SS: Have you got any favourites in your shoe collection?
MH: There really isn't a pair of shoes in my collection that I am not in love with but each for different reasons. The Orwell is an apron derby that has all the attitude of 60s Kray run London and the joie de vivre of Sammy Davis jnr. I just received the Stingray version which is sick. Then there is the Kerouac which was an experiment in how far I could stretch the classic oxford last of an elegant evening shoe to incorporate some new romanticism swashbuckle and be able to deal with outdoor rural considerations. This is a totally new boot execution and it looks hot. My new 'all day, e'ry day!' will definitely be the Miller. It's a fine calf oxford with a tonal patent toe cap and comes in black, dark chocolate and winter grey. I think my favourite pair of non Mr. Hare shoes are my Black and White Alfred Sargent Wing-tips. When I put them on I feel like Gatsby and dance like the Nicholas Brothers.

Genet (My lady of the flowers)

SS: Describe your personal style for us. Who (if anyone) has influenced it most?
MH: Understated with remarkable attention to detail. My influences are David Bowie, Fred Astaire and Flava Flav.
SS: What would you like to achieve in 2009 and beyond?
MH: The only thing I wanted to achieve in 2009 was to be interviewed on Style Salvage. Beyond I intend to introduce luggage and accessories to the Mr. Hare range.

SS: Have you got any recommendation that you'd like to share with our readers? (shops, hairdressers, designers, websites, bars)
MH: JJJJound, Queens Park farmers market and the incredible Guinness and chocolate cake you can buy there. Rough Trade record shop in W11 - keep music real! Gaz's Rocking Blues, the only club to visit in London on a Thursday since 1981. The new Botero restaurant at the new Encore hotel in Vegas - the best steak in town and they have real Botero sculptures. Sibling Jumpers - they are weird and wonderful and I love them. Glasvegas - a band channeling Phil Spector through the eyes of Glasgow's notorious underbelly. Dirty Stop Out - the name of Joe Corre of Agent Provocateur's monthly night and new band. The Hotel Amour in Paris - How all hotels should be. Rockabilly music. And finally romance - It's so much better than getting drunk and trying to get a shag.

Mr. Hare will be showing the premier collection 'Purest Form' from 20-25 Feb 2009 at 7 Garrett Street London, EC1Y 0TY. Steve is sure to pop down after work this week and will document his trip in a future post.


Mr. Hare said...

Thank you Steve & EJ. I really appreciate the support.

See you in the week.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting me know about this debut collection, I've been after a pair of new boots for a while and the ones featured here look perfect. Great interview again guys.

Anonymous said...

What beautiful shoes.

Barima said...

2 reasons to check out the new Monocle - someone I knew writing, and someone who has obvious taste, interesting thoughts and a palpable passion earning a mention, all on pg. 140. Great interview and I'll have to add his blog to my list


John said...

Really enjoying this interview series :) Great job! I look forward to looking at Mr Hare's shoes in person... said...

great interview, we love mr hare and his shoes!

Unknown said...

Wonderful interview with a visionary of the first order. Hadn't grasped the magnitude of your undertaking Mr. Hare. You know I'm partial to a natty one and two. I hope to inspect the full collection closely very soon.
Dan Lywood

Dick Dastardly said...

Sartorial superlatives, Mr Hare - and all in a shoe, too.
Something to get seriously excited about.


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