For my April interview, I have Mr. Hare. For those that may not know of him, he is a shoe designer out of London, England who several years back, saw a shoe that he liked but that he knew he could not find and from that point on decided that there was a gap in the market that needed to be filled. And within one year's time, he did just that. And for only being around a few years, he has already garnered great success, being able to find his shoes in over 20 retail outlets around the world (and big one's, like Harrods, Selfridges & Dover Street Market). As my passion lays in starting my own RTW line within the next year or two, I knew that getting some information from Mr. Hare would be informational as well as beneficial for not only me, but for all of you. So please, sit back, relax and enjoy the commentary!!
1. Coming from a background in PR and not having any formal shoe design training, how easy/hard was it for you to just up and start a shoe line in 365 days? - What were the biggest challenges you faced?
Things are always easier when you want to do them. I was very determined to do it and I was incredibly lucky to work with some very great people with very high standards. That takes a lot of difficulty out because everyone knows exactly what has to be done. Then as long as we all communicate along the way, good things get done. The most challenging thing is getting things sold. It is one thing to make what I want, but it is another thing to persuade other people to exchange that idea for money. No matter how good the designs are you still need to be just as good a sales person. But that can be just as fun and creative.
2. You are pretty vocal about your likes in your blog on you website, do any of those give way to design inspiration for your shoes? If not, then where do you get your shoe design inspiration?
The Blog is a good place to think out loud. You can converse with lots of different people from all over the world that way. Some companies pay a lot of money to have that kind of realtime feed back and public opinion. Mr. Hare was just a blog for a whole year before anyone wore a Mr. Hare shoe. My shoe inspiration comes from emotions, activities and the weather.
3. Speaking of your designs, what is your absolute favorite model of shoe from your entire collection (since you began)?
It has to be the Black/Black Fitzgerald. It is so simple and elegant. The perfect evening shoe. It has no fusty details. Just soft lines and textures. Timeless.
4. Do you have any influences in the shoe industry? Are their any companies that you admire?
So many. I look at everything from Womens shoes to sneakers to ready to the catwalks and accessories. you can't help soak it all up. At the moment I get really excited about Celine accessories. The craftsmansip and the ideas work perfectly. Fascinated by Alexander Wang, what a force? Shoewise I have always liked Dries Van Noten and Margielas take on mens shoes. There is always a lot going on very quietly on their shoes.
5. What do you hope to see taking place in the shoe industry in 10 years?
I would just like to see more men make more of an effort with their shoes. The industry changes according to consumer demand so until men start upping their shoe game and really pushing the boundaries then most shoe stores will continue to sell square toed moulded rubber sole shoes.
6. And you in 10 years?
-- Mr. Hare boutique style shoe company? or
-- Mr. Hare international, selling across the globe?
To be honest we are both of those things already. You can sell all over the globe in a boutique fashion. Mr. Hare is not the type of brand to become ubiquitous like say Patrick Cox did with Wannabees. That goes against my shoe ethics. Individuality and choice are where I am headed, but on a global scale.
7. Is there a reason that you chose to have your shoes made out of Italy as opposed to England?
Price and reliability. Also, if you had the choice to visit Northampton every two weeks or Tuscany, where would you make your shoes?
8. As a person who is not afraid of a little color, what do you think about all of the shoes across the world for SS 2011 coming in teal's, green's, blue's, yellow's etc.? It seems to be that more color will be used on footwear in the future?
I love colour. I love the prospect of men flossing their shoes like women do. If you break out a pair of peacock shoes only four times through out the summer then their is nothing wrong with that. As long as those shoes are not so overtly directional that you can't do the same the following year and the year after then bring on the extensive and colourful male shoe wardrobe. Too many guys buy their shoes on the basis of "Can I wear them everyday?" This is wrong. Experiment and dazzle I say.
9. While on the subject, what is your favorite color to see on a shoe?
At the moment I cant get enough of shades of blue. From my blue suede Zukies to my Eelskin Navy Onyx loafers to my Salmon skin King Tubbys, I am loving blue shoes right now.
10. As a person who created a shoe company from scratch in one year, I feel like you would have some good advice to offer to any individuals who aspire to become designers/shoemakers themselves. Can you shed some light?
Margins, Margins, Margins. It's no good being on the cover of a magazine or centre stage at fashion week if you can't afford to eat. And secondly never make an intern do something you haven't done yourself. Then invest every ounce of personality you have into every single thing you do. And Juice daily.
--There you folks, I hope that you enjoyed it!! Until next time,
Justin, "The Shoe Snob"