It is with such pleasure that I share with you my latest interview with Sam Carlisle, Founder of Augustus Hare. I’m a romantic and all things that remind me of times gone by and traditions, especially gentlemanly, English traditions, I find so appealing. Augustus Hare make fine artisan neck ties. Knitted ties, woven ties, bow ties, and cufflinks can be found in their collections. After following with such interest on social media for the past year, I was delighted to receive from Sam a link to a video for the brand. It definitely appealed to my senses! I caught up with Sam just before Christmas and waited to share for my first interview for 2014 as a special welcome back.
TMHS: I was delighted to see the Augustus Hare video, ‘How To Tie A Bow Tie’, and completely mesmerised by the beauty of the dancers, as well as learning more on the art of how to tie a bow tie! It really is a spectacular piece and I’m so excited to be able to share it with the readers of TMHS. Where did the inspiration for this come from?
SC: We noticed that how to tie a bow tie was a challenge for so many people, but that the videos out there were all so dull and poorly produced. We wanted to change that and were determined to think creatively. The idea of specifically mimicking the tying of the bow with dancers was the inspiration of my friend and talented producer, Ed Spreull, from e&e productions. I loved it immediately. To execute this project was very challenging, but in the best possible way.
TMHS: Augustus Hare recently had a pop-up shop making bespoke ties in one of my all time favourite stores in London, Selfridges. I must confess, I am completely addicted to the Selfridges experience and find myself there every time I am in London. It still has elements of the old days of department stores and maybe it’s the windows and front facade when you are entering through the doors, as well as those gorgeous yellow bags, I just find it reminds me of times gone by. How did this pop-up store come about?
SC: The making of a hand made tie is such a tactile and beautiful process, and I wanted to convey this to the customer. So much of that story is lost when a tie sits inanimately on a shelf. I was lucky to find Selfridges who were very keen and supportive of the idea. Having our tie maker Emily cutting and sewing the ties in store really brought the process to life. Selfridges will be stocking my Spring Summer 2014 range (landing there in February) so it also seemed like a fun and informative way to introduce Augustus Hare to the store.
TMHS: There is also a video on the ‘Art Of A Hand Made Tie’ which coincided with the pop-up shop in Selfridges. You sure have a way with film! It is so beautiful and romantic and watching it I can feel so much love! It really is well suited to a bespoke tie. Have you always liked to educate people on your processes and techniques at Augustus Hare?
SC: Telling the story of our products is incredibly important to me, and I think video is currently the most effective way to do this. Personally, I like to wear things that have a history of process – knowing that real people have brought this piece of silk to life, have crafted it with their hands, gives it much more romance and personality than anything mass produced.
Watch the video here – http://vimeo.com/80833881
TMHS: Tell me some more about how Augustus Hare started and what inspires you to keep doing what you do.
SC: I started Augustus Hare about 18 months ago, so we’re a very young company. However, before that I had designed ties for a small number of shops part time. The decision to go full time and launch Augustus Hare was motivated by a love of both design and business, as well as a desire to eventually produce a wider range of exquisitely crafted accessories – we are now making cufflinks and are showing pocket squares and mens scarves for the first time for Autumn Winter 2014. Additionally, I felt there was a gap in the market for ties that are elegant, colourful and playful. “Elegance” has been mostly dominated by a grey scale sobriety in menswear, and most colourful or playful designs quickly moved into being brash. This doesn’t have to be the case.
I am constantly motivated by beautiful objects and patterns I come across, and desire to put my own touches on these. I am also excited by running a small business and the tremendous challenges that this presents every day.
TMHS: Where do you look for design inspiration?
SC: Everywhere. I have 5 or 6 books that I go through before every collection that inspire me. These are dominated by prints and patterns from 1900 – 1940, and especially include the work of the Bloomsbury Group and Omega Workshops. However, I also take thousands of pictures of patterns I see around me – the way bricks are laid, wood is stacked, scaffolding intersects, etc. Designing ties has made me be constantly on the look out for the amazing symmetry all around us that we so often ignore.
TMHS: What do you love about ties and bow ties?
SC: There is a lot I love about ties and bow ties but there are two things in particular that I’ve been thinking about recently. One is the obvious – a tie is such a small part of your wardrobe but has such a large effect on it. We’ve all seen outfits that have been made or broken by a tie. This influence is appealing. Also, now is a very interesting time for the tie. Having been the symbol of the establishment for so long, we are now beginning to see almost a reverse of that. I love the fact that young people are no longer having to wear a tie out of obligation to work, but are choosing to wear a tie, for the fun and beauty of it, when they see friends or go to a gathering.
TMHS: Quality is very important with Augustus Hare. How do you continue to keep this quality and craftsmanship with the ever changing environment we live in?
SC: Augustus Hare wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the craftsmen that make our products. Of course the world is changing, but there are still those who hone time honoured skills because it is the finest possible way to produce something. The mill in Suffolk where we source our woven silk is a case in point. Huguenot weavers from France, fleeing the wars of religion in their own country, settled in Suffolk in the 1720s and continued to practice their craft. Nine generations later and this same family is still weaving silk. Admittedly the business has changed a lot over the years, but it is the same ethos of quality and tradition that shines through.
TMHS: Do you have a style icon you refer to for your own personal style?
SC: Not especially. Philosophically though, I refer to and am inspired by Yves Saint Laurent, who in the Sixties also found the world of womenswear dominated by a palette of grey, navy and black. He revolutionised the industry by insisting colour could be elegant. I take this ethos not only into my tie design, but also in the way I dress.
TMHS: Three things you can’t do without in your day?
SC: I studied theology at university and I love the daily rhythm of prayer – it also helps me maintain a sense of perspective when things are exceptionally busy or chaotic. The method of making a good pot of coffee wakes me up as much as the caffeine. From a business perspective it’s a little time spent dreaming and planning for the future – so much of my time is spent being responsive, so I love to take a small amount of time out to look at the big picture and think proactively.
TMHS: Where can the readers of TMHS see more of Augustus Hare?
SC: All of our products are available online at: www.augustushare.com
London outlets include Susannah Hall in Clerkenwell, Mr Hare in Mayfair and Selfridges (from February 2014)
We are launching a new online journal in January, which will include news, but also features on culture that relates to Augustus Hare.
Twitter: www.twitter.com/AugustusHare @AugustusHare