When was the brand founded? Could you explain a bit about the background of the brand?
Darren: Starting a clothing brand had been on our minds for many years and following a few side projects, we developed and founded HAAR at the end of 2016. For me, clothing has always been a passion, from my early-learning days at Attic (a clothing store in Aberdeen) where I became particularly interested in denim and then from there I moved on to Kafka which specialises in high-quality menswear with a story and a provenance. I learnt a lot about good brands and what they were about. At Kafka I was fortunate enough to come into contact with some of the most interesting brands from across the globe. I would see fantastic clothing coming from the US, Japan and Italy and felt that Scotland was deserving of greater representation given its heritage in textile and clothing manufacture.
We had a rocky start, hence the reason we are only now beginning to gather momentum. At this point I would like to say to any young designers looking to make a go of it, please be careful, there are a lot of dickheads out there trying to rip you off. Our naivety cost us at the start in time and money; a lengthy legal process was not the best way to start a brand; but we successfully recovered our money and materials and are now back on track with a fantastic factory which we are incredibly happy to work with and they get what we’re about.
I met my wife at Uni, we were both doing a Visual Communication course at Gray’s School of Art. Jessica was involved in modelling for fashion brands like Ralph Lauren, Harvey Nics and Scottish designers such as Iona Crawford and Elizabeth Martin among other campaigns. So, we both had a connection to the industry and knew what we wanted to do for ourselves.
HAAR is all about the slow fashion. Things made properly, and well. Everything we’ve made to date is manufactured right here in Scotland. It is certainly not the easiest approach to clothing manufacture, but one we wanted to stick to. Scotland has been good to us and it has so much to offer. Plus, I never got the whole “Designed in Scotland, made in Azerbaijan ” or the equivalent, whatever it might be…
If you want proper, timeless clothes, made well in a place you can point out on a map, pays their staff fairly, they even get holidays! Then give us a shout. Otherwise, try the other guys.
What's the inspiration behind the pieces you create?
Inspiration is everywhere, From clothes we have worked with and own, to stuff we see on the internet and what our friends wear. There are also so many brands that inspire us: 1ST PAT-RN, Engineered Garments, Post O’alls, etc. Far too many to list, but I will say this; we are not, and have never tried to recreate the wheel. There are lots of people out there all chasing the same dream. We want to make something we are not going to look back on and regret. That's why we work to our own set of rules. There are a million and one people out there trying to part you with your cash. We think that if the product is a good one it will speak for itself.
Where are your garments manufactured? Is it important to make your garments where you do?
Everything we do is made in Scotland, from a factory we are very close with. We try to source all fabrics locally, sometimes this is not always possible. In those few cases we look to the British supply chain. Quality is paramount. Always. In the future we may look further afield for interesting fabrics to use in our collection, but, it must always feel right.
We won’t be to everyones taste or budget, but that’s ok. Our products are priced fairly for their provenance and quality and we hope our customers agree.
While we won’t claim to be the sole saviour of Scottish manufacturing, we think it is something that is really important and being a part of that movement is something we want to continue and build on, now, more than ever, and with all the uncertainty surrounding Britain. It may not be the easiest time to build a brand, but hopefully our followers and the wider audience get what we’re trying to achieve; making clothing with integrity and longevity.
What sort of materials do you like to use in the production of your garments?
Put simply, the best materials we can source. As mentioned before, all our materials are sourced locally where possible. This means we have a greater control over the quality of the raw materials. We love texture, and cloths with a story. We have utilised Tweed from the Isle of Harris, Waxed cotton and weather-proofed fabrics from Halley Stevensons of Dundee as well as Linens, and fine cotton cloths from UK suppliers. We have crafted a selection of classic and staple pieces, in the future we look forward to experimenting more with dying processes and unusual materials.
Could you explain the production process behind one of your garments?
Firstly we gather inspiration. Drawing ideas from piles of images, doodles, bookmarked pages. Next we sketch multiple variations and adaptations until we are happy with the piece, Details are important, and we work these out here and tweak later on in necessary. Next we need to work out the measurements and fit. This bit can be tricky but we have got much better at this over time. Thankfully we work with a super skilled pattern maker who can then turn our drawings into reality. Meanwhile, we spend a lot of time discussing and debating fabric choice, eventually narrowing down our favourites and thinking about what will fit in with the rest of our collection. Our earlier pieces have been concerned with getting the staples right. We have added a bit of extra flavour here and there, but initially we wanted to make sure that we have a good solid foundation from which to build. Now we visit/speak with the guys at the factory, go over the pattern, the fabric and component choices, and discuss the finishing of the garment. Once the first sample has be created, spend a lot of time refining the design and fit. Then, a visit to the manufacturer to speak about the changes, listen to their input, and discuss seams and finishing touches. Now our second sample is made which incorporates all our changes. By this stage we have probably got the garment to a point where we are happy with it. Finally we put the sample to the test and get friends and family to try it on and wear it out and about. We will then get our final sample made ready for photoshoots, a graded size run of patterns and then photograph for the website and retail. There’s a fair bit of work that goes into creating a garment from scratch but it’s incredibly rewarding once its done and you can wear it.
Where can people purchase your garments from?
Our garments can be purchased through our website (HAARScotland.com). To date, most of our items are made to order, everything we have made has been made for a particular customer. This has both is positive and negative aspects. We realise that it's difficult for people to judge the quality and fit of what we’re producing without being able to experience it in person. However, it means that there is very little waste with left over items. Looking forward we are aiming to have batches of our own stock, maybe, partner with some UK stores, and eventually have our own premises to allow our customers to try bits on, it makes sense, but this early into it, it's not financially viable. That said, THANK YOU so much to everyone that has given us the benefit of the doubt and bought one of our garments.
What plans do you have for the future of HAAR?
We have lots of plans for the future. Short-term we want to continue making what we feel are great garments. We have a few exciting pieces planned over the course of the year which we are looking forward to releasing and seeing what people think. We have been working on trousers and a jacket which are just going through the final sample stages and will be ready for release in time for winter. We hope to take part in a few pop-up events to allow people to try on and get their hands on our clothes.
Looking further ahead we have loads of ideas to further enhance our collection with new garments and designs and we would love to work with some local textile manufacturers to create some bespoke fabrics. We hope to build our brand presence and generally make our clothes more accessible by holding stock and developing relationships with stores, the ultimate dream would be to have our own flagship store. We are excited to see where the future takes us!
A big thanks to Outdoor Wear Mag for the Q+A you can purchase future issues through their site here.