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Talent Emerging: Common People Clothing

Attention men (and women if you’re doing the whole boyfriend’s wardrobe thing) stop and take note: If you ever find yourself taking an impromptu trip to Edinburgh, head to the Common People store. Here you will find the Scottish-based label’s premium clothing designed for those who are innovative with their style and seek out timeless design. In the past few seasons, Common People has steadily gained a cult following – renowned for its eclectic mix of heritage influences and contemporary sportswear. The vibe I get from the brand’s creative director Kestin Hare, is determination and focus. It seems that Hare has taken his previous experience, namely at Nigel Cabourn – a label with a longstanding passion for vintage – and applied these acquired skills to Common People, the proof really is in the pudding. For the forward thinking man, the brand evokes a sense of luxury and wearability at the same time; where detailing is highly important. For this week’s Talent Emerging, Hare describes the journey that led him to design his own line and the importance of sourcing locally in order to stand the made British concept – a notion that appears to have slipped the net by many designers in the last couple of years.

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Planet Notion: Tell us a bit about yourself?
Kestin Hare: I was born and brought up in Edinburgh. After I finished school, I left Edinburgh and moved to Newcastle to study Fashion Marketing BA (hons) at Northumbria University. During this four year course I spent a year on placement in London where I worked for Reiss. After graduating with first class honours, I returned to design for Reiss before an opportunity came up to work for Nigel Cabourn. I returned to Newcastle and eventually became Nigel’s right hand man.

PN: What was the most valuable thing you gained from working at Nigel Cabourn?
KH: When I worked for Nigel I gained a great understanding of quality fabrics, vintage inspiration and the importance of British manufacturing.

PN: So with all that under your belt, how did Common People come about?
KH: After working for Nigel for a number of years I could see a trend emerging for locally produced, quality products. This trend had existed for a long time in the food industry and I could see this gradually happening within fashion. I translated this idea into menswear. I wanted create a brand that focused on quality and local manufacturing and Common People was born.

PN: As well as quality and production, you seem to be passionate about heritage clothing – where has this come from?
KH:
Heritage or vintage pieces are always the starting point for designing the collection. It’s important to reference vintage and look to the past for inspiration, but also to drive the brand forward and to develop something new.

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PN: What’s your aesthetic?
KH:
The Common People DNA is inherently British, but over the seasons we have developed the direction of the brand and have consciously given it a more contemporary look.

PN: We love your SS14, ‘Summer Ramblings’ lookbook that has been long awaited – what message did you want it to convey?
KH:
Thank you. We’re really excited about getting it into the shop. SS14 “Summer Rambling Tales” reflects the essence of Scottish summer holidays and is inspired by seventies field trips and influences of Celtic art.

PN: As part of this column, I have to find out, how much support do you feel young designers get from the industry when they start their own brand?
KH:
There are organisations which give young designers a helping hand such as Scotland Redesigned (SR:D) – we have worked with them for the past 2 years and they have given us an excellent platform on which to showcase our collections to an International audience. We showed in New York, Paris, Glasgow and Edinburgh, all fully funded by them and Creative Scotland. We are very appreciative of their support as when you’re starting out the cash flow is difficult to get right and these opportunities are like gold dust.

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PN: We’ve noticed you like to collaborate – such as using a Scottish manufacturer to produce your knitwear – how important is it for you to be selective about who you work with?
KH:
Common People manufacture wherever possible in the UK and use many of the old factories used while at Nigel Cabourn. Our trousers are made in Manchester, our outerwear is made in London and our knitwear is made in Alloa and Leicester. In the past we have worked with Aero Leather, a factory that makes leather flight jackets in the Scottish Borders. The Inverallan Knitwear and Hats from AW13 are all hand knitted in people’s homes in Alloa – Scotland. The most important benefit of manufacturing in the UK is supporting local industry. I also feel the quality and craftsmanship gives the garments a USP and is more desirable to most markets, in particular the Asian market. More often than not there is an interesting story behind UK-based factories and I like the history and the people behind them.

PN: Anything you’re working on currently that we should know about?
KH:
This season our Bute fabric rucksacks are made from upholstery fabric woven on looms in a factory on the Isle of Bute in Scotland. This was set up in 1947 to provide employment for returning servicemen and servicewomen after the war. The rucksacks are constructed by Aguille Alpine in the Lake District.

PN: Excuse the broad statement but what is your opinion on menswear today?
KH:
Menswear is having a real moment with events such as LCM pushing the sector into the limelight; it’s an exciting time to be involved. There’s a lot of energy and men are becoming increasingly interested and passionate about style and grooming. It’s a manly thing to do now, rather than being considered “metrosexual”.

PN: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given so far?
KH:
A great way of starting to understand pattern cutting and translating two dimensional pattern drafting into 3D garment construction is to take old vintages apart at the seams and press them flat to understand how they a constructed. This really helped me in the early stages.

PN: Source of inspiration?
KH:
I am inspired by history, vintage garments, all types of design, fabric and trim. In menswear right now I find Junya Watanabe really inspiring.

PN: Any  last words?
KH:
Thanks for the support!!

Visit Common People

- Hardeep Gill

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