In the history of men’s clothing, Scotland has not typically been known as a capital of fashion. Tartan, kilts, and Harris Tweed dominate the conversation, but Edinburgh-based designer Kestin Hare is steadily changing that image. Since founding his namesake brand Kestin (formerly Kestin Hare) in 2015, the label has consistently produced some of the best workwear and vintage-inspired clothing on the market. Beautiful fabrics, top-notch construction, and thoughtful details have become hallmarks of the brand and show Kestin’s DNA as a former designer for many iconic British labels.
After graduating from fashion design at the University of Northumbria, Kestin made a name for himself designing for the vintage menswear don himself, Nigel Cabourn. Kestin quickly rose through the ranks, eventually becoming Head of Design. In his four-year stint with the label, Kestin was deeply influenced by Nigel’s process of sourcing rare vintage pieces, referencing archival material, and building relationships with local UK factories. These methods live on in Kestin’s own brand, but where Nigel was rigorously faithful to vintage reproduction, Kestin has developed a design language all his own (more on that later).
After leaving Nigel Cabourn, Kestin had success as a freelance designer, working with British institutions such as Burberry and Margaret Howell. These projects are certainly impressive on a resume, but Kestin knew that the next step was to design for his own brand. That dream became a reality through a circuitous series of events: first being brought on as a clothing designer for Common People (then just a footwear brand), securing funding from a Japanese investor, and subsequently launching the collection in Japan under his own name. To anyone familiar with the Japanese fashion world, it was a foregone conclusion that Kestin’s designs would take off in the heritage-obsessed Japanese market. The rest, as they say, is history.
Since the brand’s early success in Japan, Kestin has rapidly established a reputation both at home in the UK and abroad in Europe and North America for making high-quality everyday clothing that combines a vintage feel with modern sensibilities. Kestin’s designs are sturdy and functional, nodding to the long historical connection between men’s clothing and uniforms. Workwear features like chore pockets and corduroy mingle with military/naval silhouettes like field jackets and foul-weather smocks. There’s a distinct masculinity and simplicity throughout the collection that makes for understated clothing that never feels boring or bare. As Kestin himself said in a 2018 interview with Monocle, he wants to make clothing that “passes the pub test…you can go into the pub and your mate’s not going to start laughing at you.” In our opinion, it’s more likely that your mate’s going to ask where you got your shirt.
For SS20, Kestin has once again passed the pub test by sticking to his guns: gorgeous fabrics in rich colors and workwear-inspired tailoring, much of which is made in the UK. Label mainstays like the Kenmore blazer and Inverness trouser return in several different fabrics, including the ever-popular Brisbane Moss corduroy. These two pieces demonstrate the versatility and simplicity that Kestin’s clothing strives for: worn together this jacket-trouser combo functions as a casual suit, and the Kenmore blazer’s collar can be worn shirt-style or lapel-style depending on how it’s folded. A personal shop favorite is the Luss trouser, a brand-new style for SS20. This military-inspired pant comes in a durable cotton ripstop and features two large cargo pockets, elasticated waistband, and adjustable leg openings. It’s cut in classic Kestin fashion, with a roomy upper leg that tapers towards the ankle, giving a relaxed but tailored silhouette. Another new piece for this season is the Inverness short, a warm-weather version of Kestin’s classic Inverness trouser. Cut just above the knee with a slim fit, these shorts are just as comfortable on a bike ride as they are at the pub – a perfect example of Kestin’s all-purpose spirit.