Mr Hare ushers in a new era for luxury men’s footwear

Standing IN Marc Hare’s much talked about new store on Stafford Street, Mayfair, it’s hard to fathom that his life was far from rosy this time four years ago. Back in 2008 the designer was going through a divorce, had broken his leg and lost his job: and all in the same week. But his fate quickly changed. After deciding to launch his label, Mr Hare, the following week, his shoes were quickly snapped up by Dover Street Market and today they line the shop floors of just about every leading department store that matters.

With such a fast trajectory you’ll be forgiven for thinking his success has been down to luck, but it becomes apparent after spending time with him that Hare has quite the knack for business: something British designers have often been accused of lacking. “I’ve come from a marketing background so had a lot of experience working in commercial departments within companies [like Adidas, New Balance and Levi], making marketing visions, so I knew what a company should be and should have so I had it all in my head when I launched the brand,” he explains. That said, he makes no secret of the fact he’s “in no rush to compromise” his vision for expansion purposes.

“Many brands are just part of bigger companies that are concerned with selling,” he says. “If I had a big company and had to sell a certain amount every season, I would probably be selling crappy shoes too.”

And it’s this mantra that’s won him a legion of fans. Everyone from Robert Downey Jr and Ronnie Wood to Tinie Tempah and Jude Law have been spotted in his creations. Since founding the label in 2008, his collections continue to resonate as much with the old guard as they do with the new generation of luxury shoppers. It’s the combination of fine Italian craftsmanship and contemporary artistic flair that London is known for that’s proving to be such a winning combination. It’s almost as if he’s managed to bottle the best that fashion brands have to offer aesthetically but with the craftsmanship expected from the big shoemakers. “What I wanted to do was have a brand that sits in both camps. Why can’t you have a shoe that is good quality but looks really sharp?”

His autumn/winter 2012 collection features many styles that wouldn’t look out of place in the boardroom or at a corporate function – think classic brogues, boots and formal shoes – but it doesn’t end there. Many of them have been updated with interesting fabrics, like the use of stingray on his Orwell Deco shoe, adding a contemporary edge. But these aren’t shoes to be admired from afar: this season, in particular, he worked with high shine leather to make sure the shoes can withstand a spill and will hold you in good stead on a night out, too.

The new store sees the whole collection, including his hugely successful sneakers range, housed under one roof. “There was just no other place to go,” he said when asked about the choice of location. “Jermyn Street, the home of British shoes, is there and then you have all of the big fashion houses on Bond Street and the contemporary brands down the road at Dover Street, so we’re in the middle of everything I’m influenced by.”

With the store open and an online shop now live, what’s next for Mr Hare? “I’m making an English shoe right now with Alfred Sargent, which will be coming out in January. We’re doing women’s shoes too but I’m not going to start making [Nicholas] Kirkwood style shoes,” he jokes. And, despite rumours of a possible diffusion line in the works, it’s not something he has planned just yet. “It’s something I’d do in the future but not right now. There are so many brands on the market that people can afford but there are not many that make stuff with no compromise and that’s what special about Mr Hare.”

TOP FOUR STYLES

FREUD £565
Brogue boot with vintage military grain and ghillie-style lace fastening on a commando sole.

FITZGERALD, £389
The classic Fitzgerald-style with a suede vamp and high shine collar.

DEAKIN, £495
High shine calf-leather derby with ghillie-style lace fastening and brogueing detail.

COOKE, £550
High shine calf-leather derby boot with a commando sole.

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April 22, 2014, 2:25pm