For the first in a new series, The Macallan Single Malt Scotch Whisky and Wallpaper* meet Mark Hogarth, Creative Director for Harris Tweed Hebrides.
The Macallan’s bold spirit – its thoughtful discernment of life-changing decisions made on the journey from the ordinary to the extraordinary – has inspired a fascinating new interview series entitled ‘The Macallan Conversations.’
These intimate discourses are about people who, emboldened by the tantalising proximity of success and thriving on the pressure a big decision-making moment can stir up, decide to ‘Make The Call’. The series discusses lives and work, the pivotal moments that shaped careers and futures, the purpose and vision behind those decisions and the sacrifices necessary to make them.
The Macallan has chosen characters who have travelled alternative routes and taken the paths less trodden. Their stories are revealing – risks worth taking are weighed up, the calls worth making are considered. These are conversations that help us discover how endurance and determination can foster longevity and strengthen character when facing future challenges.
First up is Mark Hogarth, Creative Director for Harris Tweed Hebrides. A political graduate, former model and journalist, Hogarth came to Harris Tweed when the traditional Scottish fabric industry was in serious decline. ‘A lot of work needed to be done,’ says Hogarth. ‘The big call at Harris Tweed was not necessarily what we were going to do… but what we were not going to do.’
Having graduated from the University of Strathclyde, but still keeping his hand in the fashion industry, a chance meeting in 2000 with Brian Wilson – then Scottish Office minister – came when the young model was working on a promotion for Vivienne Westwood and Harris Tweed. Armed with his geography and politics degree and a helping of youthful confidence, Mark landed a job as a ministerial researcher at Westminster.
He made quite an impression, sartorially and professionally. Years later, after Brian Wilson had co-founded Harris Tweed Hebrides – he made a call to Mark Hogarth and asked him to join the new, future facing brand as its Creative Director. With Hogarth’s help, Harris Tweed is now in fashion again – collaborations with brands and designers such as Brora, Beams, Aspesi and Universal Works have brought the traditional fabric back onto the catwalk and into the zeitgeist. But it hasn’t been an easy ride.
From day one in the job, Hogarth recalls the pressure of commerce and change – voices from outside the industry wanting Harris Tweed to mix traditional yarn with cashmere to soften its feel, to look at other options using other fabrics. ‘But by doing that, the legacy, the provenance of Harris Tweed, would be written off overnight. We had to be imaginative, quirky and really get back to the absolute basics of what made Harris Tweed so special.’ Special how exactly? ‘Harris Tweed’s colour palette is inspired by the Hebridean islands’ rocks, lichen and wild flowers,’ he explains. ‘So there’s a near mystical relationship between the land and the cloth.’
‘We had to be imaginative, quirky and really get back to the absolute basics of what made Harris Tweed so special.’
Hogarth makes big, brave calls on small details and critical assessments on societal impact, heritage and environment. Writers and photographers make the call on words and images that will alter perspective and influence lives. Never wantonly reckless or impulsive, people brave enough to Make The Call are bold to follow through on an instinct.
Over the next few months, Wallpaper* and The Macallan will be collaborating on more Conversations, visiting characters of skill, consideration and wisdom, all of whom have dared to pursue something greater.