"Mr. Hare started on the Internet. I believe that is how we met Steve?" enquires Marc Hare. Of course, the shoe designer knows the answer already but it reminds me just how long we've known each other and how important the web has been in transforming his dream in to a reality and in helping him dream bigger. Mr. Hare has always a been a work in progress and we've all watched on in excitement. Over the course of three whirlwind years we've all been captivated by the tale of Mr. Hare and now the label opens a new chapter as it dips its toe in to retail. What started as one man's selfish pursuit of great shoes has delighted and treated the feet of man. Yesterday afternoon, four swans and a hare returned claimed the Internet with the launch of MrHare.com.
Following the opening of his first boutique in London’s Mayfair last month, Mr. Hare had returned home. "I started with the blog and had no money to advertise. The Internet feels more like home to Mr. Hare than Mayfair in a way. I also built our first website on iWeb, the free software you get with all macs, because of that fact the site was always a bit rubbish. I never thought being super slick was that important if the content was honest. I think a lot of people liked that because you could tell the person who made the shoes had just as much to do with the website. In the same way I was learning how to make shoes I was learning how to communicate on the web."
Of course each collection induced us with lust but most of us fell in love with the brand thanks to the honesty of his site. He was one of us. We've always loved how your blog captures the personality of both the man and the brand. From what he's been listening to, collections he's loved, exhibitions that blew his mind and anything else that inspired him. It was something that Hare was conscious of keeping. "If it ain't broke don't fix it bro!! It says Mr. Hare on the URL and it's still Mr. Hare choosing the content and making the shoes and playing the hits. Now of course, it is fully integrated between Magento and Retail Pro with a Global facilitation partner but I will still be trying to work in a Doom quote to every blog post. I'm still going to be showcasing other people's shoes I like and I am still going to be using all our media tools to show off when Arsenal win big games."
Despite it's countless advancements, it still feels like Mr. Hare. Nothing has been lost in the upgrade but rather, features long loved or new, only enhance our connection with the brand. StudioSmall nailed it.
"When we were briefing StudioSmall, the most important consideration was that I didn't suddenly want to be all slick and fancy like Mr. Porter. Mr. Hare had to still maintain an element of rubbishness like it always had been. Imagine being a really fancy, serious, cutting edge, respected design company like StudioSmall and being told you have to make a site that's a bit rubbish. I think they interpreted the brief very well." I think he should replace any reference of rubbish with character.
The Stafford Street store marked a confident step forward in to standalone retail and the site includes e-commerce functionality and will be the only other place to buy Mr Hare shoes in every style, colour and size. This thought thrills the inner shoeist and undoubtedly excites the man himself. "Wholesaling your designs means you have little control over how they are then presented. Also, no-one ever buys the whole collection. Having our own shop means we can see how it all looks together. We can merchandise. We get feedback from customers. We get to see all the colours. It makes a world of difference. Commercially you suddenly have a much greater level of independence. I believe the technical term is revenue streams. I prefer Mr. Lamar's description 'money trees is the perfect place for shading.'"
Building on this greater level of independence, the site also provide the opportunity to buy Mr Rare’s, past favourites from the archives, short runs and exclusive collaborations. Looking back over the archive, I enquire which styles are his personal favourites. "Personally, the entire "Idolescent' collection marked a real turning point in understanding what I was doing. That collection as you know was me making all the shoes I had obsessed over as a teenager but couldn't afford back then. Say what you like about poverty, but it has always been there for me!! It was very indulgent and personal and it got a lot out of my system. However, my favourite shoes will always be the next ones, because if I am not excited about the next hits, I might as well give up." We can't imagine his excitement ever waning.
As we left Hare to settle in to his virtual home and before he asked his neighbours for a cup of sugar, we asked him to reveal a few of his current digital favourites digital suggestions. From the music that's pounding his speakers, to the fellow sites that he feels are killing it. Conquer the web:
"JJJJJJound is still the blog fundamentalists blog of choice. That 8track thing you did the other day is still blowing my mind. Streets of Beige mixtapes are a treasure to behold. Delia's recipes are a must. I am tripping off these mixes by Knxwledge. I get a thrill anytime I book a holiday on either Virgin, Expedia or BA.com 101Great Goals if I miss a game. The White Cube shop if I want to look at more affordable art I still can't afford. The Label Line and in particular Nadine Peters' boiled wool jumpers and my favourite is 1st Dibs for stuff I really can't afford."