Scottish menswear designer Kestin Hare looks almost childlike as he reminisces about learning to fish with his father. Perhaps it’s the waxed shop coat he’s wearing – aside from the bright colour, it wouldn’t look out of place on a ghillie – but it feels like he’s taken the entire room at the launch of his Spring Summer collection up to the riverbanks of northern Scotland, or perhaps that’s just the whisky talking.
Yes, whisky, because this collection has been produced in collaboration with unconventional Scottish distillery BenRiach, and to Hare’s right, in an almost matching work coat is Master Distiller and whisky maven Dr Rachel Barrie.
Barrie and Hare are in fact modelling jackets in the colours of BenRiach’s ten-year-old Curiositas and four cask matured 21-year-old expressions – the former jacket in a dark smoked yellow (for the honeyed stone fruit dram) and the latter a golden sand (for the lemon zest and shortbread of the spirit).
Other pieces from the collection, referred to as ‘Summer on Speyside’, feature a digital cask print in a lightweight ripstop nylon. Just don’t crack jokes about their waterproofing.
The collaboration came about when Edinburgh-based Hare was approached by the distillery. As well as the childhood link, the designer found himself inspired by the eclectic range of casks in the warehouses at BenRiach, Barrie’s own modern-day playground. After a series of visits, the collection of functional garments began to take shape as Hare admits to having been “charmed by the process, the whisky, the people and the location”.
The collection is now available in Hare’s stores, online and in selected retailers worldwide and continues the brand’s quest to champion traditional British production wherever possible, with the dyed items produced in a series of 1970s laundry machines at the mill of waxed cotton pioneers Halley Stevenson of Dundee.
The collaboration seems to be a natural fit. In Barrie’s own words, BenRiach has been “exploring the creative possibilities of our Speyside malt for decades,” so it seems only natural that an experimental designer should take this exploration one step further to create a series of hand-crafted garments inspired by the rich stories of the whisky industry.