I love you Mr. Hare.
When I first started to get into clothes that weren't from BHS, Mr. Hare was the brand that I wanted to wear all day every day. Watching the journey from a well-assembled men’s shoe blog, which supplied the shoe porn that my eyes desperately needed, to actually becoming a brand, was incredible. That it was humorously written helped separate it from the other super serious men's blogs that I read at the time. Allow me to quote: "These are Thursday night shoes of stamina that will take you from soiree to dinner to cocktails to Gaz’s and beyond. Always with a twinkle in your eye and a spring in your step."
Aside from wondering who Gaz was, it helped that there were Wu Tang and MF Doom references flying around alongside the fine art and architecture. The ‘What I've Been Listening To’ posts are still a favourite. Mr. Hare and I even support the same football club, it seems. Discovering the blog and witnessing the transition from blog to brand was something that I can pinpoint in my life that marked a moment of change and cemented the decision in my mind that I should get a job - any job - in fashion. It proved that it wasn't just for gays and girls. After all, here was a guy who liked football, hot girls and surfing but was simultaneously making his own luxury shoes.
I neglected to tell my mum any of this when I spent £365 - all of my pay, plus a tenner, that month - on a pair of the black and white Fitzgeralds in 2009 when I was 19. It was a big deal that she didn't get. I pretended that I was joking when I actually told her because of her rightfully incredulous reaction. When my mum told me that I should score their soles as per tradition, I was so sceptical I emailed him thinking he wouldn’t reply. When he did, it cemented my respect for him and his brand. Searching back in my hotmail folders unearthed the gem of his reply: “Your mum is right. I hope you approach this exercise creatively and score them in such a way that it pleases you to reveal your work in the future. Make them your own. You only need to score them by a millimetre max.” Nice one, Mr. Hare.
Like all relationships though, things eventually changed. I never fell out of love with the brand but when they started making trainers, it didn’t do it for me. I am staunchly of the opinion that luxury trainers aren't ever going to really justify the price or be better than a pair from a sportswear company - the only exception being the Margiela GATs, whose excellent luxury version of the trainer has influenced a lot of the classic Adidas shapes. Things became a little different although there were still shoes to get excited over; the black suede rabbit fur-lined Arno slippers from a season or two ago gave me an aching shoe boner as much as the Stingray Orwell did in 2009.
The transformation from blog to brand took another step forward at the last London Collections: Men. Mr. Hare launched a clothing collection. Imagine. A whole collection designed for the purpose of enhancing your outfit; one that has already been enhanced by a sublime pair of shoes. The Spring/Summer ‘16 collection showed inspiration from the traditional dress of African tribesmen, using an integral and traditional part of black culture to imbue a sense of importance to the modern man.
Indeed, this looks set to be the future direction of the brand – albeit hopefully in tandem with the footwear and not eclipsing it. WWD got the scoop but I was the one who got the excitement, with descriptions like, "shirting in Italian poplin and a three-quarter length draped coat". Now if only I could spend as frivolously as I did when I was 19, I might find true happiness.
Words: Seth Footring
Image source: Mr.Hare