Saturday, 12 April 2014

Mr Hare for

“I realised from day one that the most important thing about my brand was me…”

There are things we all know about Marc Hare, the man behind innovative shoe label Mr. Hare that are absolute. For instance, we know he started making amazing shoes in 2008. We also know Hare has recently acquired a flagship store in the heart of swanky ole’ Mayfair that resides around the corner from Rei Kawakubo’s Dover Street Market – location is everything. We also know that he has not shaved in nearly a quarter of century (so I’ve read). Like I said, these things are of absolute certainty.

The man behind Mr. Hare is not one that appears mysterious in a Margiela-esque way. In fact, Hare is not afraid to be himself at all, and is open about his label that has sky rocketed over the last few years. I was lucky enough to catch up with him over a strong builders tea to discuss his love for blogging, a bit about the shoes and just how much surfing means to this friendly giant.

What was it like growing up in London in the 70’s and how did this influence you?
It was funny because where I grew up in Croydon, it was pretty suburban, a council estate on the rough edges of the city. At the time it all seemed very normal but I always felt like there was more going on and it wasn’t happening where I was. I remember being into Adam and the Ants and they only way I could learn about it was by going into WHSmiths and buying books on it! There was no way to access it, even if you wanted reggae music; you had to go to a specialist reggae shop to buy it. I remember the period just before the Tories got in 79’ and that whole era felt quite heavy, grey and depressing even back then.

What is your opinion on current men’s British fashion?
I think it’s fantastic. I think menswear in general is better than it’s ever been, just because there are so many options. There has always been more wild, far out men’s designs but now the far out seems to have crossed over with casual wear and the two fused together seem to be coming up with something quite brilliant. On an international level, London menswear has it’s own voice and is quite recognisable but then it also mingles with those other international designers so you look at your Rick Owens and it’s all on a par with what’s coming out of London at the moment. To me it just feels really fresh and exciting. And London, over quite a long period of time, seems to have really gotten behind menswear.

How do you feel social media has helped you to build the Mr. Hare brand?
Absolutely, because I used to work in PR before I did all of this. Whatever you used to do in PR, if you know how it works, you can do it all on social media so much easier than you used to be able to. You used to have to employ someone who had all the connections who could get you into the magazines in order to get yourself out there to people, but now you can just cut all that out and go straight to people. Kids don’t know how lucky they are, having access to the whole world. People are constantly contactable. You can have an idea right now and you can have it around the world in like ten minutes.

What I like most is your blog, how interactive it is and provides an insight into your world. What is it as a designer that made you take this open approach?
A brand is about the personality. It’s a problem that most big brands have is that the person who initially started the brand is no longer around so therefore they lose direction and that central thing that the brand gravitates around. I realised from day one that the most important thing about my brand was me, not in an egomaniac kind of way but if my brand was going to have any kind of life for people to understand anything about it, it was going to reflect what I thought. I am not actually Mr. Hare; I am Marc Hare who is quite a different person to Mr. Hare. With Mr. Hare it’s all perfection and then a bit of Marc Hare comes through.

What kind of influence do you want to have on fashion?
I don’t necessary think I want to have an influence on fashion because for me, I am more excited when people have their own personal style. If you just see what’s on the catwalk and pull it off wholesale and rock that exact same look that’s not doing anything to anything. It’s the people that can take stuff off the catwalk and make it their own. My shoes are quite plain, they are not big shouty things they are just made as accessories for people to use to create their own style. So I don’t want to have an influence on it, I want people to take what I do and make it their own.

What can we expect from your women’s line? Who is the Mr. Hare woman?
You can expect to wait a long time! I haven’t even thought about it yet, I really haven’t. I get pressured into it on a daily basis. I’ve always said that I can only get into something that I personally am very excited about making, and not that I don’t like women, I absolutely love women but the only way I’m going to make women’s shoes is to make women’s versions of what we make in men’s already.

Who are your personal design heroes/who inspires you?
There’s so many. The last few years I’ve really been into architecture. In fact, since I’ve started making things, I’ve stopped wanting to buy things it’s really odd. In terms of designers, recently it’s been Bauhaus and Memphis where it’s postmodern and gone beyond simplistic, from being super nice and literal to taking elements of things and making them in another way, which if you think about it, it’s sort of like what hip hop is - taking very old influence and making it into something completely new, so I think that’s the ethos that really excites me at the moment. In terms of designers, I love Dries Van Noten, and just people that make things perfectly and simply. I’ve also been recently obsessed with a geezer called Ettore Sottsass who was the guy who started the Memphis movement, who puts together unusual shapes and colours. I mean you look at the stuff and you think it’s disgusting but then you start thinking about how they arrived at that point, it’s genius.

When did you learn to surf and where?
When I was 21, I had a PR company and I met some guys who were writing the first Storm Rider guide which was a guide to surfing in Europe and I said to them if you teach me how to surf, and give me all the equipment, I’ll do all your PR for you. They said to me, ‘What’s PR?’ so I just said I’ll do it anyway. They were about to open a shop in Notting Hill at the time (Low Pressure) and I did the PR for the opening and three weeks later they took me down to Newquay where I had my first ever surf – it was absolutely terrible, disastrous. It took about another year before I actually stood up. The time I really first learnt to surf was down in the South of France and the water was really warm. You can wear shorts and it was a lot easier than wearing a wet suit.

Where did you find the inspiration for Mr. Hare?
I was in Spain in Andalusia and it had nothing to do with shoes. I’d spent about six months trying to figure out what to do with my life and what I was going to do as a career just because I was fed up of all the other things I had done up to that point so I was already in that headspace of coming up with an idea. I already had a name; I knew that whatever I was going to do was going to be called Mr. Hare. I was just sitting at this bar, looking at this guys shoes and thinking ‘They’d look really nice if they were a bit longer and had something wrapped around there’ and I was like ‘Fuck man! I should just make shoes, I’m kind of obsessed by shoes’ and that was it.

What kind of clientele does your store bring in?
The store has been great because it’s just bought in loads of people. Before when I had an idea of who would buy my shoes it was somewhere between street urchin’s, fashionistos and a few old guys. But now we’re are seeing so many different people because of where the shop is, in between hedge fund banks, galleries and the general people of Mayfair so lots of people walk into the store having never heard of the brand and have just bought shoes because they like it for what it is. It is really encouraging because you want universal people to like what you do. It was the best location ever because it’s just off Jermyn Street which is the home of British shoes, just off Bond Street which is home to luxury and then just off Dover Street which is home to the avante garde young designers. It couldn’t be in a better place.

I have heard that you just want a beach house anywhere, if the choice was unlimited, where would you move to live and surf and why?
Oh god. I don’t know, I haven’t found that place yet. I’ve been to quite a few places like Costa Rica, which was winning at one point, but I’ve now become obsessed with the Caribbean Islands. Outside of that I quite like South America or even the far Far East. I don’t think I’ll ever find that place, I’ll just keep travelling to see as many as I possibly can.

If you could design your own surfboard, what would it have on it?
Oh my god! I am sure it would have a Hare force ones logo on it and double exclamation marks.

Who would you most like to see wearing your shoes?
Barack Obama. That’s an easy one.

Sum up Marc Hare the person, in five words?
Serious but easily distracted, a lot!

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Having an article in the Jamaican Observer on a Sunday, that was pretty dope. Just knowing people on the Island of Jamaica have to read about me just because I’m Jamaican. Ha! And the Jamaican high commissioner asking me if I wanted a Jamaican passport.

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