Kestin – Brand Spotlight


Inspired by heritage, redefining the future.

At the heart of the UK’s retail and manufacturing space, Virtua’s always excited to take a deep dive into the brands transforming our market – especially when they’re as interesting as Kestin.

Founded by the company’s namesake, Kestin Hare in 2015, the company was created with a vision of redefining modern Scottish design. Some years on, Kestin’s achieving exactly what it set out to do (and some) through a flawless blend of innovation and tradition.

Manufacturing clothing, accessories, and homewares, Kestin’s now stocked by 90+ leading international retailers. With its flagship store in Stockbridge and a design studio and HQ located in Leith, Hare’s proud to not only have built his dream brand but to have done so in his beloved hometown of Edinburgh.

We recently spoke to the friendly folk at Kestin to learn about their individuality, what matters to them most, and what’s on the horizon for this up-and-coming company.

A perfect fusion of old and new

With a plethora of fashion/lifestyle brands available nowadays, you may wonder what makes Kestin different. But as soon as you step inside their rich green Baker’s Place (Stockbridge) shop, you’re transported to a fascinating oxymoron of an interior. On the one hand, it’s fresh, vibrant, modern, but at the same time, warm, welcoming, and familiar. It’s most definitely unique.

The brand’s been cleverly designed to echo Scotland’s natural beauty but also oozes stylishness. It accurately mirrors the story of Kestin Hare – his deep roots to home and an innate flare for creativity, combined with the more progressive path he took to studying fashion and building his label. The organisation’s certainly nailed its desired blend of innovation and tradition and despite a current vibe inside the shop, you’ll find lots of character from raw steel fixtures, Scottish oak shelving and haberdashery units sourced from local dealers.

The store’s key to Kestin’s philosophy. Despite today’s online world, the organisation believes very much in ‘bricks and mortar’ retail and creating a personal, memorable real-life shopping experience where people can see and touch the quality of their materials.

Earthy tones & timeless designs

Weaving in references from their heritage and homeland, Kestin’s range is inspired by vintage, workwear, military, sports and outdoor. But the brand describes its products as functional, subtle, sophisticated, and distinctive.

Kestin Hare shares, “We’re not trying to be a performance brand. We’re a fashion/lifestyle brand and our clothes are designed for everyday use. Clothes must be practical, and our collection has a mix of styles that work for both city and country pursuits.”

The brand’s been built for modern men who enjoy timeless design that lasts. They claim not to follow trends but to produce fashion that gets better with age. Hare adds “We’re not run of the mill. We use unique fabrics, different cuts, and a natural colour palette. Our customers first and foremost appreciate quality and design. We also want to ensure we’re more than our products and aim to make an emotional connection with our customers, so every collection tells a story. We weave in Scottish references to the past but make them relevant for today.”

Kestin’s AW22 collection, for example, was based on Scotland’s ‘father of national parks,’ John Muir. And far from the tartans and tweeds you may expect to see from a Scottish designer, Hare’s challenged preconceptions pulling inspiration from the East Lothian John Muir Way walk he regularly enjoys. You’ll see references to tones of deep forest green, moss, olive, sand, bark, clay, and slate throughout this latest modern range of high-quality clothing.

Green values

But Kestin’s commitment to quality (and green!) goes beyond just the look and feel of their goods. It aligns perfectly with their focus on responsible manufacturing.

The company’s constantly monitoring and reviewing its environmental and social impact and looking for ways to improve. Cloth is selected for its quality and its ability to last. Durability is essential, alongside a deep understanding of the production process, so the full environmental impact can be minimised.

Native manufacturing is a core brand value which further supports their sustainability efforts. Kestin’s renowned for championing UK production and around 50% of the collection is produced in the UK. Proud to back local industry and craftsmanship, part of Hare’s vision on founding the company was to create jobs for individuals in Scotland and the wider UK, whilst preserving and promoting craft industries. And through using small production runs, Kestin strives for higher production standards and greater control over the entire supply chain.

Responsible Manufacturing

“Our supply chain’s transparent,” explains Hare, “Our factories are all audited by the QIMA Ethical Audit Report, and we ensure we only work with suppliers promoting fair wages, good working conditions and a strong bond with their surrounding community.”

Kestin’s developed personal relationships with these factories and mills and believes that long standing relationships are fundamental to the quality of the product manufactured for them.

The organisation describes sustainability as a journey on which they’re learning and improving every step of the way.

The future looks bright

For such a young company, Kestin’s achieved a great deal in its relatively short existence. From cultivating an incredible team to nurturing a growing base of loyal customers, there are countless highs and a sense of pride in having created such a distinctive brand in their hometown. Kestin’s also celebrated features in publications such as Monocle Magazine, Wallpaper Guide Edinburgh, Conde Nast Traveller Beijing and has won the coveted Scottish Retailer of the Year award. They’ve recently enjoyed a successful collaboration with Berghaus and have plans in the pipeline for working with more well-known brands in the near future.

Navigating uncertainty

Yet that’s not to say it’s all been plain sailing. The pandemic of course touched every retailer. And Brexit is another hurdle that the business has had to overcome and is still challenged by today. Kestin’s an advocate of re-joining the single market to move forward and help scale the business. They urge other firms affected by the repercussions of Brexit to speak up about their issues so that change can happen.

This is a cause close to Kestin’s heart as next on the agenda is to increase global sales. New sales agents have already been appointed in USA, Canada and Italy, and areas of Asia (including South Korea and Japan) are another key focus for their future expansion.

Kestin may be built on vintage foundations and inspired by the past, but this is a retail brand that’s really going places in the future. We, at Virtua, wish this fantastic brand lots of luck.