“When everyone thinks of Mr Hare they envisage a country stiff upper lip gentlemen. Then when they meet him and see his Jamaican dreadlocks, laid-back posture and orange scooter they’re not just pleasantly surprised, they’re completely won over”.
As manager Samantha Dadd intrigues me about the daily where and what abouts of modern man about town Marc Hare (whilst telling me how when he arrives at the shop he’s inundated with kids and Japanese tourists flocking in numbers to grab selfies), it becomes clear that Mr Hare the brand isn’t just the average run of the mill shoe shop, nor a product of mass production from a larger than life designer visionary to be everything to everyone.
Right foot forward
Mr Hare the brand is more of a personal venture, a creative pursuit to facilitate his multi-dimensional lifestyle of BMX, surfing, music and dancing, to name a few. Mr Hare the man, or Marc Hare more casually known, is a modern day creative chameleon, creating an all black collection of shoes six years ago as a solution to problems he found in his everyday life.
This not only landed him with a behemoth of a brand that launched his status high into the fashion hierarchy, but rendered him with an emerging luxury leader award, all in the space of 6 years. Not bad.
I caught up with shop associate Steven Cummins, manager Samantha Dadd and the owner Marc Hare himself amidst his brand new autumn/winter collection ‘Tutto Nero’, to talk philosophy, best sellers and the swag of his brand new steppers.
What is the niche of Mr Hare?
The whole point in Marc’s shoes is that you can wear them anywhere; you can be in Soho at a restaurant, a business meeting or a lunch club in Mayfair and you won’t be turned away; their versatility in being dressed up or down by full length trousers or three quarter lengths is the method in the magic.
The phrase ‘quality not quantity’ comes to mind as his Westbourne Grove store hosts a small, eclectic and carefully curated collection of shoes, designed thoughtfully with his lifestyle needs in mind.
In a nutshell, Hare describes it as ‘everything a man needs disguised by everything a man wants’.
The craftsmanship in the construction of the shoe is meticulous, albeit easily overlooked by his sleek modern designs…
We have lots of extra details; small logo indents, subtle markings and our own silhouette mould. The shape is fitted so when you look down the foot it almost gives it a waist; it’s streamlined so although it looks chunky it fits like a glove from welding underneath instead of on the side of the shoe.
Subtle detail: indentations in the shape of a hare
The flexible materials from Tuscan calf to suede hug the foot to form a sort of second skin, aiding the natural movement of the shoe. Pardon my nostalgia of back in year two university design but fulfilling the two criteria of functionality and aesthetics pretty much means you’ve hit the design jackpot. Touché.
You’ve got this whole philosophy behind the shoes that add a depth and personality to the collection that makes his line unique and appealing to so many different men.
He’s interested in a lot of different things and with every shoe you learn a little bit more about Marc, the website tells you why each shoe is called what it is, for example The Poitiers, the Millers and Llewellyn after the BMX rider. Llewellyn was at the top of his game and no matter what Mr Hare did (when doing BMX) he wasn’t going to beat him, so in his honour he named the shoe Llewellyn.
So this personal narrative he has with shoes, it’s almost like a portfolio of his life in footwear?
An all-encompassing bespoke gent’s lifestyle range catering for every eventuality a gent may need. I like it.
With the shop associate and manager as humble and enthusiastic as the man himself, it’s hard not to get the bug and be immersed into the world of Mr Hare. I left wanting three pairs of Arnos, a pair of high-tops and a man’s stingray business boot. Yes. A man’s boot. Now if that’s not enthusiasm (or astoundingly good salesmanship) I don’t know what is. But whatever it is, I’m well and truly on the Hare band wagon…what are the best sellers?
It’s a toss up, this collection is an all black line except for the colourful espadrilles. Best seller wise, we’ve got the staples we are renowned for like the indestructible Toussaints boot, the Sonny Black boot and the extremely popular Arnos shoe, which are now due to high demand (from women frantically asking ‘when are you going to do women’s sizes?!’) in women’s sizes.
The Arnos are super light, made of breathable cashmere suede and can be worn as an espadrille because of the way the seams on the back are stitched. We have green, white, grey and olive for autumn and I’m not joking…they pack into nothing so if you’re like me and have to suffer any last minute holiday packing chaos, they’re perfect.
We’ve had such a great response and so many celebrities have bought them as well, they’ve even been to see the queen! The high tops are our very first collection of sneakers so they’re going down pretty well as well.
What colour do guys generally go for with the Arnos?
Well they start off cautious! They come in and start off wanting navy and leave with some extravagant colour it’s great. It’s all about the outfit really and men in general don’t have a lot of chance to incorporate colour…they only have cufflinks, a tie and shoes to go nuts, so work your way upwards from the feet!
The colourful espadrilles we have are extremely popular and what they’re meant for is to be loved and worn to death, we can put a rubber sole in the bottom too to make it more long wearing if needed.
Back when it all began, what sparked a fuse to start a footwear brand for Mr Hare?
Well basically he got divorced, broke his leg, got made redundant, then went away with friends to Andalucia. He was sitting there looking at this guy’s shoes and thought ‘I can make them better’. Then before you know it within a year he’s in Dover Street Market, it was that quick!
A light bulb moment if I’ve ever heard of one…
Exactly, he caters shoes for himself on what he would need for going on nights out, holidays and working. He has no remorse in admitting this; it’s very much a ‘this is my philosophy and if you like it join me but if not there are a 101 other places you can go to find them’ kind of attitude.
Check out his blog, its brilliant.
With a bold niche and an unstoppable sense of purpose, this is one man going about his daily life solving practical problems with practical footwear. Versatile, practical, original, pro-active…isn’t that the quintessential image of the modern day man.
To sum up his collection in his words, here’s a great little exert from his blog:
Tutto Nero has a shoe for every reason. Work and play, slow and fast, indoors and outdoors, one person, every situation. Just three leathers in one colour can do all these things. The softest Tuscan calf, the dazzling leather patent and the deepest dark suede produce the formal Oxford, Derby, single monk and the wingtip, the evening slipper, the Chelsea boot, the winter derby, the winter wingtip, two winter walking boots, the stack heel, the skate shoe, the tennis shoe, the high top and the running shoe.
Tutto Nero also encompasses the Blaccessories, three belts, three wallets, three coin pouches, one document wallet a work bag and a shoe-horn. Again, all a man needs to be taken seriously. Executed in the same three leathers.
Tutto Nero. Tutto Uomo !!
Mr Hare; Tutto Nero A/W14 Collection; 178A Westbourne Grove, W11 2RH; Opening hours Mon – Sat 10.00-18.00, Sun 12.00 – 17.00; mrhare.com