MR. HARE AT PITI UOMO 85: SHOES FOR THE HALF-DARK
Words and pictures by Jasper L
Words and pictures by Jasper L
The second time I walked over to Marc Hare’s booth, in the far corner of one of the inanely-named pavilions (empty, no doubt, due to its lack of proximity to the packed espresso bar at the other end), I called him James, which is the name of his assistant. Really professional, right? A good way to begin an interview. Aside from that, everything went well.
Except that it is really hard to take pictures of black shoes. I hope that you can get a feel for some of the shapes, at least. Mr. Hare’s shoes fall firmly along the flaneur’s line, somewhere between Dr. Jekyll and Mick Jagger; a little bit of swagger with an added shot of menace that doesn’t stray into the monstrousness of Hyde. They’re even, dare I say it, slightly delinquent. Perhaps that’s because the road that Mr. Hare, the man, took to Mr. Hare, the brand, was a bit winding, and the guy’s something of a rogue anyway.
“I was unemployed for a bit. I was trying to find a job, and no one would give me job, and I just though ‘Ah, fuck it, I wanna do something way more interesting.’ And I was in Spain, sitting at this tapas bar, and I was looking at this guy’s shoes thinking ‘Ah, they’re really nice, it’d be cool if they were, like, longer, and with these little details,’ and I thought ‘Damn! I should make shoes!’ And that’s literally how it happened. The next day I was enthused, and just decided I was going to start a shoe company.”
That sort of jeu d’esprit is undeniably romantic, no? And it’s all the more impressive that the witticism has not just lasted, but evolved and grown even wittier. The original lasts, the ones with which Marc launched his brand in 2009, have all been abandoned, and there’s a simple reason for that: “After five years I just know a lot more about shoes than I did when I started. We kind of scrapped everything, started again.”
Everything for this season is new, sleeker, more elegant; masculine and full of night-time appeal. My favorites are, unsurprisingly, the boots; the stacked-heel jodhpur is particularly elegant and not a little brash, and the side-zips are excessively lovely. I’d be lying if I didn’t think that there were a couple of misses alongside the gems (or rather, shoes that are simply not to my taste), but I do think that the shapes which are done well are done exceedingly well. The result, despite the bohemian influence and Italian construction, is firmly English and firmly London, with an elegance (a word upon which Mr. Hare is quite insistent) that is, nonetheless, very Italian. The shoes are handmade in Tuscany, and although Marc would love to do British shoes with a British company, he tells me that there aren’t many options. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing to have an excuse to come down to the South every once in a while, though. Italy has perks that aren’t limited to shoemaking.
“People get confused by that,” says Mr. Hare. “‘But you’re British, and you make shoes in Italy.’”
“How did that start, by the way?”
“I prefer the food there.”
Having eaten in both England and Italy, I can't argue with that.