HAAR is an independent clothing brand proving that high-end fashion can be made right here in the north-east of Scotland.
Run by husband-and-wife duo Darren and Jessica Seymour, HAAR operates from its small-scale factory in Dyce with orders made online via its website.
From beanie hats to field jackets, sustainability and longevity are core components of the business’s ethos.
All of the fabrics for its various garments are sourced as locally as possible and are built to last for years to come.
It also has gained global appeal with stockists in Japan and Darren believes that there’s still more room for HAAR to grow yet.
“First off, I’m unfortunately not Scottish as you can hear from my English accent!” Darren laughs.
“I moved up to Turriff with my family when I was 16. I already had some family in Peterhead, but moving from Luton to here was a drastic difference.
“Later, I went on to Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, which is where I met Jess.”
As a youngster, Darren would often be seen with a sketchbook, drawing illustrations and finding a flair for art.
While at Gray’s however, his passions transpired into fashion after finding jobs with Aberdeen clothing stores Attic and Kafka Mercantile and creating a few small t-shirt brands of his own.
“I worked at Attic during uni then at Kafka for a few years doing their website, photography and marketing,” says Darren.
“But while I was at Kafka, I noticed that there wasn’t really an offering in the high-end niche for clothing from a Scottish manufacturer.”
Birth of HAAR
As a result, in October 2016, Darren and Jess founded HAAR with the aim of filling the gap in the market for high-end Scottish clothing.
Starting your own business comes with challenges however, and the pair certainly had their fair share to begin with.
“We first found a factory in Glasgow that we thought we could work with,” says Darren.
“Unfortunately, we fell into what would be considered a scam and they basically ran away with our money. The start was a complete nightmare.”
Many others could have given up on their business ambitions by then, but Darren and Jess were undeterred.
They later recovered their losses through court and found a different factory to work with – that was until they met their next challenge.
“Covid struck next, so we diversified the model again and began working with freelance seamstresses and tailors around Aberdeen,” Darren explains.
“We worked with some excellent people which kept our orders piling up during Covid.
“Outsourcing work to another factory is pretty much the standard for all clothing brands, but eventually, we decided to have it all under one roof.”
Antithesis of fashion
Darren’s redundancy from his full-time job gave him and Jess the extra push to take HAAR to its next stage.
Now, it operates from a small industrial space in Dyce which they’ve converted into a clothing factory.
Full-time master tailor, Irina Forman, plays a pivotal role in bringing HAAR’s products to life and complete control over every stage of the process is tangible from design to finished product.
Harris tweed and natural Scottish fabrics are at the heart of HAAR’s garments and the business aims to posit itself differently in the world of fashion.
“We consider ourselves as the antithesis of fashion,” says Darren.
“We don’t want to be a fashion brand in the sense that it’s suitable for right now then next year it will be out of date, thrown in the bin or given away.
If you give people a quality product that’s good and lasts, they might not be buying from you every week, but they’ll remember you and they’ll come back.
Naturally, HAAR’s product pricing reflects the extra care and effort that’s made to create their products in Scotland.
High quality, local and sustainable shirts, jackets, beanie hats and scarves are all available to order from its online store.
Coming to life
But the purest sense of joy Darren and Jess gain from their work is seeing their products out in the world.
“Seeing [the products] come to life is fantastic, but better than that is actually seeing them on people that have bought them,” says Darren.
“Hearing people say that they’re really happy with something that we’ve produced is so great.”
More than just clothing
HAAR’s sustainable ethos – from its packaging to its fabrics – is central to Darren and Jess’ mission to create a business that’s fit for the future.
Student internships and more retail stockists are already in line for the year ahead and Darren and Jess can’t wait to explore new possibilities for HAAR.
“It’s more than just clothing to us,” says Darren.
“It’s changed our lives. We’re doing things that we’re passionate about and moving in the right direction.”