Kestin Hare is a man who knows a thing or two about menswear. With 20 years experience in the industry, menswear is sewn into the fabric of Kestin’s life. Growing up in the Northeast and now calling Leith home, Kestin had long been drawn towards clothing and artistic expression from an early age. His father an architect and his mother an interior designer, he was encouraged to be creative in his younger years. Combined with the sartorial flare and character of his Granddad Bill (a Spitfire pilot and later pub owner), the stage was set for Kestin’s future.
Staying in the Northeast to study fashion before moving to London, it’s clear that Kestin is fond of his native Scotland. From collections inspired by the natural landscape and Scottish history to the creation of a shared creative studio space and working closely with local entrepreneurs, he refers to the place he now calls home with great admiration. But in contrast, Kestin’s world isn’t restricted to his Edinburgh surroundings and it’s his international reputation that has helped cement the brand in the menswear world. Having studied under Nigel Cabourn and formed links with Japan, the Kestin Hare brand is stocked in almost 100 stores worldwide, 40 of which are in Japan. Liquor Store is proud to offer Kestin Hare for the first time from AW 19/20
Kestin first got to know Nigel whilst he was studying fashion, as the husband of one of Kestin’s lecturers was Head of Design for Cabourn at the time. After graduating and a short stint at Reiss, Kestin moved back to Newcastle and joined the Cabourn team full time. At a pivotal time for the brand and on the verge of The Ascent of Cabourn collection in 2003, Kestin was instrumental in helping Nigel create what would become cornerstones of the Cabourn offering including the Mallory and Cameraman jackets. With Nigel’s collecting mentality and huge archive of vintage pieces, Kestin learnt to utilize the details and accents of these historic garments in a contemporary context.
As Kestin talks around the new Autumn / Winter collection ‘In High Places’, it’s obvious that construction, fabric and trimmings are crucial to any garment offered by the brand. With approximately 70% of garments being made in the UK, the devil is in the detail for Kestin Hare. Visiting factories and selecting fabrics occupies a lot of Kestin’s time, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. The authenticity and timeless nature of the garments, alongside a transparent supply chain, has become a hallmark of the brand. Whilst Kestin’s time with Nigel obviously influenced his own understanding of pattern cutting, design and working with factories, it was also the work he carried out for Margaret Howell, Burberry and others, that also shaped his design sensibilities and helped build a network of contacts which Kestin can now utilize for his namesake brand.
This season sees Kestin Hare collaborate with the renowned Black’s of Greenock, a famed British outdoor brand known for their iconic outerwear. Having been let into the Black’s archive to get inspiration from vintage garments (a process that has been a constant inspiration for Kestin), the two settled on an overhead smock made from Ventile fabric. The Nevis smock is beautiful in its simplicity, featuring a quarter zip and cavernous front pocket, the fit is deliberately oversized with the original garment designed to fit over mountaineering equipment. Channeling the intrepid mountaineers of Scotland in the 1970’s, the Nevis is an obvious reference to the past but executed in a contemporary silhouette.
Other standout pieces from the collection include the Durness sweatshirt in pollen yellow, made from a textured virgin wool and polyester blend. Featuring raglan sleeves, a ribbed crewneck and made in Portgual, the piece evokes images of the flora and fauna of Scottish hillsides. Similarly, the Tain Glen Check Shirt might be made in Japan from Japanese fabric, but it’s appearance is undoubtedly a reference to Kestin’s local environment. With a split collar and boxy fit, the ‘bark’ colourway would undoubtedly look just as comfortable on the streets of Shibuya as it would in the Scottish Highlands.
As Kestin wraps up and takes questions from the audience, it’s abundantly clear that the the brand (and the man himself) have craved their own path in the world of menswear, a path that is firmly rooted in creating collections that are more than just garments. The narrative, story telling and transparency give these garments context and encourage the wearer to be consumed by attention to detail which Kestin has championed throughout his career. And whilst Kestin humbly refers to the garments as ‘everyday menswear’, these are timeless pieces which will become future classics and the reference points of the next generation.