British Men’s Underwear and Loungewear, Founded on the Belief That a Good Day Starts With Good Underwear

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A Q&A with Olivia Francis, Hamilton + Hare’s Founder & CEO

Hamilton + Hare was born out of an observation that men’s underwear, especially when compared to women’s was an overlooked and unloved category of men’s clothing.
Olivia founded the brand in 2014 in London and their first product is still their bestseller today: the boxer short.

What inspired you to start Hamilton + Hare?

I set out to make men’s underwear better. I saw that the current offering was very poor quality, using synthetic cheap fabrics and mass-production with little thought for longevity or the experience of wearing the product. For me underwear is the foundation of your wardrobe, as the first thing on and the last thing off, even if no-one sees it, it’s important.

What’s the philosophy behind Hamilton + Hare and its products?

Our philosophy is about elevating the everyday. Our goal is to make wardrobe staples of exceptional quality with clothing that men really love to wear for years to come.

How do you approach design at Hamilton + Hare, and where do you find inspiration for new products?

Our design process is very organic and often comes from talking directly with our customers in our store on Chiltern Street, London.
For example, our travel suit was born out of a conversation with a customer about wanting to wear his pyjamas on a long-haul business flight but needing to be smart enough on arrival and through the terminal. We gave ourselves the design brief “a suit you can sleep in“ to create a soft structure blazer and trouser that has the refined tailoring silhouette but feels like pyjamas to wear and can be washed too for practicality.

What kind of man do you feel best represents the overall style of the brand?

The man we always have in mind has an effortless confidence, he who knows who he is, dresses for himself and not for anyone else. Nothing is overly designed, and the aesthetic is timeless, understated and of course uniquely British, drawing on London as our home.

How has the brand evolved over time?

A lot, and it still is. If I learnt anything in the journey so far, it’s that change is constant. We’ve grown organically, mainly through word of mouth which is extremely powerful and expanded our product range to serve our customers rather than commercial agenda.

What have been the biggest challenges that you had to face during Hamilton + Hare’s entrepreneurial journey?

There have been so many challenges along the way, and I think the hardest thing for me, especially as a sole founder, has been to build up resilience and a real grit and determination to keep pushing the stone up the hill. The learning curve is steep and as soon as you feel like you’ve mastered something there is a brand new challenge.

Where does Hamilton + Hare manufacture its products?

We manufacture everything in Northern Portugal, which we chose for their expertise and innovation in textiles, especially cotton and jersey. All our factories are in an area around Porto and we visit regularly to ensure total transparency of our supply chain. The virtue of being a relatively small brand is that it is possible to really know who made our clothes, not just their names, but their dog’s names too.

How much do you think sustainability is important in today’s fashion industry and how does it fit with your vision?

Sustainability has been something we have had as central to our approach from the very beginning when we started with the goal of making men’s underwear better. We use natural fibre fabrics, rather than cheaper plastic derived synthetics such as polyester. These cheaper fibres still dominate most of the underwear market, they aren’t biodegradable and also cause microleaching in the washing process.

We strive for total transparency in our supply chains as the key to tackling sustainability issues in the sourcing of our raw materials. In addition, we have an approach that is focused around quality, not quantity. We really think about the longevity of our clothing to combat fast fashion, of which underwear is one of the worst offenders. A lot of this comes down to the craft of the garment, including seams, construction and ensuring skilled workers have enough time to make a garment properly, not just quickly.

It is great to see the fashion industry moving in this direction but I think the only way it really changes is if consumers demand better quality and more transparency and understand that this means clothing will be more expensive.

Leave us with a motto that the company will always believe in.

A motto that our company believes in is: “It’s what’s underneath that counts”.

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