At gravitypope’s Toronto store opening I was introduced to Marc Hare the designer and founder of Mr. Hare, a men’s footwear company in the UK. Marc founded his brand in 2008 and is quickly becoming one of the preeminent designers in British menswear; the Guardian wrote that “his are the shoes that men save up for, because when they wear them it changes them” and GQ Magazine calls his work “edgy and classic.”
Now, I have to admit prior to meeting Marc I had never heard of his work but after 14+ minutes of conversation I couldn’t help but admire his laid back demeanour, passion for well-designed men’s shoes and all around cool nature.
I don’t often write about men’s shoes on this blog but thought it’d be nice to throw something new into the mix and show you a different way of looking at men’s footwear. Ladies be prepared to be schooled by Mr. Hare and forward the link of this blog post to that special man in your life who needs an education on how to improve his footwear choices for the New Year.
The Souls of My Shoes: Why did you pick gravitypope as one of the retailers to carry your products in Canada?
Marc Hare: Gravitypope came to me in the really early days when I first started out my company, I was in my second or third season when I met Louise Dirks, we got on really well and I trusted her to do the right thing with our brand in Canada. The people I spoke to have a lot of respect for her, the store and the other lines she carries. We really looked into it because at the end of the day, when you’re a small brand, you have to be careful.
Did you always want to be a shoe designer?
No, it’s something that happened late in life. I used to work in fashion marketing for a Swedish fashion company and then lost my job. After that I went on a tapas eating road trip to Andalucia, Spain, and one day I was sitting in a bar next to an old man looking at his shoes. I started analyzing its details and at that very moment I thought – bam – I should make shoes! And now I’m here 4.5 years later.
How would you describe your style of shoes versus other brands like Church’s or Dr. Martens?
All of those companies are about 100 years old and have been making the same styles of shoes since then. The difference is that I was born in 1970 and every youth culture I’ve ever been into, from ska to reggae to hip-hop, there’s always been a shoe that identified you with that group, that’s where my shoe obsession came from. All of my footwear obsessions are modern shoes associated with contemporary culture, although some of them are traditional looking they have a more elegant shape and made for a modern guy who likes to floss.
Were you a sneaker head back in the day?
I’m still a sneaker head! The difference is I wear my own now. Having shoes that are fresh, as opposed to having the same as everyone else, makes a big difference to my designs.
What are your criteria of a well-designed and well-constructed shoe?
I don’t think men’s shoes have to shout out they just have to be perfect, the details and the fit have to be correct. I’ve always thought that the shoes are the finishing part of an outfit and make the biggest statement. If the shoe is right and all the proportions of the clothes match then you have a winner.
However, guys are pretty lazy when it comes to shoes and you can ask any girl – guys will deny it – but they haven’t got a clue about shoes and I’m just trying to change that.
What are some of the styles you dislike?
Well… if you’re going to wear a black shoe then you have to make more of an effort than wear a turned up toe slip-on thing (laughs).
I personally can’t stand sport sandals.
One of the other plans with my company is to take all the men’s shoes that are wrong and make them right. We’ve already tackled 2.5” Cuban heels and we’re now doing sandals, not sport sandals but I would like to get to them eventually.
Do you have a motto when it comes to shoes?
Our first ever motto was “Shoes you can attach some romance to” because girls fancy good shoes, so you have to think romantic with your feet and not practical. I want men to have as much fun with their shoes as women do.
What are some of the projects you have coming up?
We just opened a store in Mayfair, London, which is our first stand-alone store. And just the other week we launched our own online store MrHare.com where you can see the whole line. We’re also about to make an English shoe for the first-time – all of our shoes are made in Italy – and it’s going to be more traditional, welted in its construction.
In the last five to seven years there’s been a renaissance of shoe designers coming from London. What do you think this is attributed to?
We have some of the best design talent in the world because we have some of the best schools. You also have a lot more entrepreneurial people; those who will get up, get a company started, keep it going and make it grow such as Nicholas Kirkwood and Charlotte Olympia. Plus we have a history of youth culture in London and people treat fashion as culture, it’s more about expression than commercialism there.
What is your most memorable shoe?
When I was 18 there was this girl I fancied, we got to talking about shoes and she introduced me to Gucci loafers, which at the time I’ve never heard of, and because she loved them so much I scrimped and saved for a pair. We didn’t work out but I had bad ass shoes!
Now I have to ask the question… you make men’s shoes, what about women’s?
Well… we are going to do women’s next year but female versions of our men’s shoes. We’re going to make you ladies sexy, high quality, comfortable, elegant flats.