The legacy of traditional production, a bold modern look at vintage silhouettes, as well as an unconventional approach to the choice of fabrics and materials, all this creates the unique signature of Kestin Hare. The founder and chief designer of the brand under his own name, Kestin Hare, kindly agreed to answer our questions and tell us about himself, about creative search and working process.
Why did you decide to commit your life to making clothes? What was the main reason?
Growing up I was fascinated by what celebrities wore. Kurt Cobain, River Phoenix, Eddie Vedder, I would analyse and appreciate their style and try and recreate it myself. Then when I started clubbing I realised the power of brands, everybody was buying into branded T-shirts in the early 90s. What you wore defined you, gave you confidence. I was hooked.
What is the most important for you in creating collections and in the process of manufacturing?
I travel round the world sourcing fabrics and rare vintage pieces. I listen to my customers and see what they want or need. It’s important to have a blend of easy and special pieces in every collection to work for all of our accounts and customers. After over 17 years of working with the best factories, I also push their capabilities to develop products that truly standout and last. Small production runs ensuring brand integrity and quality output is maintained.
What the basic principles are you guided by?
- Scottish menswear designer
- Championing UK quality manufacturing
- Designed in Leith, the creative heart of Edinburgh
- Clean aesthetic, inspired by vintage
- Focused on unique fabrics, great fit and clever detailing
Where do you get your inspiration from?
There is a high emphasis on vintage research, and using the most unique and technologically advanced fabrics. I want to create collections which are more than just product, to make sure our brand makes an emotional connection with its customers. Every collection tells a story, weaving in Scottish references of the past and making them relevant for today. I’ve just come back from a trip to Mountain Heritage Collection up in the Highlands where there were hundreds of boxes of rare garments, I was like a kid on Christmas day.
Who has had the greatest impact on your work?
I worked for Nigel Cabourn for 4 years and was eventually promoted to Head of Design. It was an intense period of training by Nigel where he taught me my core values: vintage research, learning about the history of garments, where they were manufactured, the function of the materials and the details, and the ultimate importance of championing UK production. Nigel wanted to recreate things exactly as they were originally produced. I’ve now developed my own approach where I take the details but then turn it into my own design.
Unusual and even unique fabrics are used in Kestin Hare collections. How difficult is to find the cloth, that you need in implementing particular idea?
I spend a lot of time sourcing and working with mills to develop unique fabrics. From Japan, to Italy, to the UK I work with mills to create different fabrics and that’s what makes my garments special. It’s hard on our website to show the true texture and feel of the material, my customers are delighted when they see the product in person as the quality really shines through. That’s why it’s great for us to have Street Pie Store as our first Russian stockist so the Russian customers can experience our prducts first hand.
Could you tell us a little about the features of the AW 2018/19 «Shelter» collection?
Kestin Hare’s Autumn Winter 2018/19 collection titled “Shelter” draws inspiration from the modern day Bothy (a remote highland refuge) culture seen developing over recent years in the Scottish Highlands and Islands.
Taking advantage of more relaxed planning laws in the outdoors, architects have been able to redevelop the traditional basic stone Bothies with conceptual structures. Inspired by local building techniques and materials, designs are turned on their head by introducing contemporary elements of steel and glass and the use of bold highlight colours.
Hare’s new collection mirrors this approach, subverting traditional outdoor clothing and making it modern – demonstrated by taking the iconic Scottish Fair Isle Knit and literally turning it inside out, resulting in a softer, more refined finish.
New elements in the collection include functional, thorn-proof, and locally-sourced cloth which is given an update used for wide-legged cropped trousers. The staple Kestin Hare Dice Parka returns, blending the trekking smock style with innovative fabrication – a natural Borg fleece bonded with olive green nylon. The collection’s tonal palette of organic moss and peat tones is mixed with steel and highlights of orange and yellow.
Who helps you in working process? Could you say a few words about Kestin Hare team?
I have a really talented team of people working for me. Our head office is based in Edinburgh and the focus here is design, production, web, retail and marketing. Our wholesale team is based in our Shoreditch store and of course we have a brilliant retail team there too.
Have you ever been to Russia? If you have, what did you like? What was most interesting and most amazing for you? If you haven’t, are you going to visit our country someday?
Not yet but I’m dying to go. I would have gone if Scotland had got through to the world cup, but sadly not. If the opportunity comes up to come and visit I’d jump at it.
Could you describe your typical day?
If it’s in Edinburgh, I cycle my daughters to school on the cycle path, then down the Water of Leith to our Cruiser store and studio based down on the Leith Docks. As the store is connected to the studio, Custom Lane gallery and coffee shop, it’s always filled with people drifting in and out so you get loads of chat. I’m normally at work, having meetings with the team and seeing customers till about 6pm when I head off home to see my two girls and wife. Life in Edinburgh is quality.
Do you have time for any activity other than clothing design and manufacturing? Could you tell us about your other passions and hobbies?
Salmon fishing is my true passion. It helps me escape, going up into the Scottish countryside and getting back to basics. Maybe one day I can go salmon fishing in Russia, that would be a dream.
Text and translation – Сергей Михайлов
Photo – Kestin Hare, Anastasia Fedoseeva / thestreetpie.com