Mr.Hare is a men's footwear brand based in London whose idea was conceived in Sierra Nevada, Granada, in the summer of 2008. Mr.Hare, the person behind the brand, was born in London in 1970, the son of an English mother and Jamaican father, his passions are surfing, traveling, food, music and elegant shoes. Mr.Hare, the shoes, are hand-made by small manufacturers in Tuscany, Italy, with materials and manufacturing of great quality... We talked to Mr.Hare at The Outpost, on the occasion of the presentation in Barcelona of the brand and the wonderful collection.
The fact that the inspiration to start the brand came from looking at the old gentleman's shoes at a roadside Tapas bar in Sierra Nevada Mountains, Granada, was that merely an anecdote or does it still influence your products? It was certainly a life changing moment, up until this point I’d never even thought about making shoes, it never crossed my mind. And it was only because I was looking at that gentleman’s shoes and thinking in my head about how I could improve those shoes, my next thought was who could I find to make them for me. The next minute I thought I should just make shoes! (laughs).
So it was a moment of inspiration, it wasn’t like those shoes specifically inspired you? No because I still have a picture of those shoes in my head and they weren’t even that nice (both laugh), I’ve never even made them.
You know those kind of shoes are fashionable again here, there are a few shoemakers in Spain making them.
Once I decided that I wanted to make shoes I thought about the type of shoes that I really wanted to make and for me, the shoes I always wanted were the ones you pull out of the wardrobe on very special occasions, the ones that everybody just says wow!! I didn’t want to make a very commercial shoe, it’s the evening shoes that we have here like the Stingray and the Fitzgerald, a very beautiful patent toe capped shoe I was interested in. Once I did that I wanted to make shoes that you could wear during the day, that had the same feel so this is the second shoe that we made (showing a Miller black) and now this is our best selling model. Where I live in London most people wear sneakers and casual shoes all of the time, I wanted to bring back an elegant shoe for men.
You believe in an ethical way of doing business, smaller independent manufacturers rather than big multinational industries, how do you translate this philosophy into production and how is it reflected within the product itself?
It translates because we have never made a shoe to be a huge commercial hit, we make them because we want to make beautiful shoes and we realise that not everybody can afford shoes like that and not everybody wants shoes like that so, we just want to make a beautiful shoe and sell it in beautiful stores like this (The Outpost) to people who want that kind of shoe.
You have no formal training in shoe design or any other form of design. How do you put a collection together? Can you describe the process? Where do you find the inspiration for the collections?
From a very practical point of view you sit and write a list of what you need shoes to do. Over the next six months I have weddings to go to, I work everyday, at the weekends I might go to the countryside, I’m going on holiday to a hot country so therefore you make shoes to do all the things that I do and then once you have a function for the shoe you can let your imagination run wild. In a round about way I’m sure that’s how most designers work, for me it’s just very personal it’s about my life, I make shoes for me.
Are you influenced by trends?
Trends do come into it but we are a very small company so if we make things that are just on trend we’re sitting amongst the competition, if we have an idea that isn’t on trend and is just something completely different then you give people choice. And going back to my earlier point about big companies it really disappoints me to go all the way around the world and see exactly the same things on the shelves on all of the stores.
How long should a pair of Mr.Hare shoes last? Is this an important aspect of design for you?
Personally I’ve never really had a lot of money so every pair of shoes I bought had to last as long as possible but I’m realistic and realise that shoes will only last if you look after them, you buy a pair of shoes and no matter where you bought them you still have to put a pair of shoe trees into them, still need to clean them every once and a while and you need to take them back to a decent cobbler every year or so, it’s like a car they have to be serviced and they have to be looked after and if you want a pair of shoes to last you can make them last.
Are you on sale in many stores internationally? Do you choose the stores? If so, what criteria do you have to select the stores?
You have to look at what else is in that store, it’s important to be in great stores for instance like The Outpost, there are probably only five or six in the world, I wish all stores were like this where people have a real passion for what they sell. We generally sell better in the stores where we are next to Lanvin, Saint Laurent, Dries Van Noten and other similar labels, that’s quite important because you have a price structure and quality level that you have to sit with.
Have you ever worked in collaboration with any designer or brand?
Hardy Amies from Saville Row a couple of years ago and we did a small range for Top Man as well because we had lots of fans who were never going to be able to afford a pair of four hundred and something pound shoes so we did a range for them where they were a hundred and twenty pounds, the quality went down a little bit but all of the design elements were there. So I like to collaborate sometimes because it makes you do things that I would never do for Mr.Hare.
How did the relationship with The Outpost come about?
I met Pep in Paris maybe six years ago, I didn’t know anything about the shop, he had only just opened at that point. He loved the shoes and he had so much enthusiasm for them that I thought that there was no way that I couldn’t work with him.
Are you still in the Dover Street Market?
No we are not at the moment because we opened our own store 10 meters away, we tried to do a collaboration with them, we will get back in there at some point but understandably they were a little bit annoyed.
Is there any other store where you’d like to see your shoes on sale?
Of all the stores I’ve seen so far we are in most of them. But I am sure there are a lot of stores out there that I still haven’t been to that I would love to see.