Thursday, 15 September 2011

Making Mr Porter's acquaintance

The fanfare of a big launch leaves me cold. From an album release to the latest product drop, widespread hysteria and hype never fails to sour my interest. The unveiling of Mr Porter back in February had the same effect. However, back in the summer of last year I could not have been more excited and intrigued. I was one of the lucky few to listen to Natalie Massenet hint at what the online store might become as she danced and dazzled her way through her discussion with Imran Amed for Fashion Pioneers. With Net-a-Porter, Massenet has spent the last ten years luring women away from their favourite physical stores by offering something that’s a more attractive better mousetrap for the consumer. With Mr Porter, she was turning her attention to me(n). Throughout the hour long discussion my appetite for the future of online menswear retail was whet. Yet, as my hunger grew, so did the marketing and mass media frenzy. Suddenly, my appetite diminished. The early Spring launch arrived on time and of course I appreciated the reveal but I was not as wowed as I thought I could be. Now, the marriage of commerce and culture was instantly a happy one given that it was housed in such a sleek and inviting environment but something was missing. For me, the first season of products were a little too... expected. There were very few surprises or items to quicken the ticker in amongst the covetable staples. This is why I've not written anything about the site...until now.

Since Mr Porter's inception, Massenet has amassed something of a dream team. The staff and contributors list reads like a who's who of British menswear journalism and retail. The buying team is particularly strong and as the second season of products begin to appear online they are undoubtedly flexing in front of an admiring audience, myself included. A diverse mix of over forty brands have been added to the list of designers. Intrigued, I visited the well groomed Westfield office and met with Mr Porter's Buying Director, Toby Bateman. Over a cup of coffee, I listened as Bateman enthusiastically discussed AW11. As he bounced from find to find, detailing what it was that precisely caught the eye for his first full buying season, the personality of Mr Porter revealed itself. Up to this point, I had considered the site to be a touch dull and one dimensional but Bateman's excitement was infectious, more than that though, it was justified. As the season welcomes Gilded Age, Woolrich Woolen Mills, Gant and most interestingly, J. Crew, Oliver Spencer and Hentsch Man, the contemporary and more causal offering has been beefed up quite remarkably. Furthermore, with the addition of impressive Parisen debuts from Ami and Monsieur Lacenaire and renowned cashmere from Loro Piana, I've instantly had a few knitwear surprises. Previously Mr Porter has appeared a little too stiff for my tastes but it has now evolved in to something of a sartorial chameleon. It no longer appeals to one man but many.

Now, I wish I could share my chat with you all but the gremlins that live inside the Voice Memo application on my iphone have decided to play mean. However, undeterred by technical difficulties, I feel that the below selection of look book shots will prove just as persuasive in raising your excitement for Mr Porter's AW11 offering...      

Raf Simons Page 4
I especially like Raf Simons' duffle coats and fair isle knits.

Givenchy Page 8
Super sleek Givenchy

Ami Page 15
AMI page 16
Two looks from Ami. 
As Ami, Alexandre Mattiussi aims to produce an effortless wardrobe of stylish, wearable clothes. He looks to have achieved it on his very first attempt.

Kitsune Page 21
Combining traditional standards of production with a contemporary aesthetic and attitude, Kitsuné collections have a timeless elegance about them. This cable knit shawl cardigan is simply beautiful.

Monsieur Lacenaire Page 23
Oh Monsieur Lacenaire...
One of my favourite discoveries of the season. I have detailed my love of this item already.

Hentsch Man Corduroy
These brightly coloured cords from blog favourite Hentsch Man will surely brighten any grey Autumn day.

Alexander Olch Ties
Plaid wool ties from Alexander Olch
AW11 Look book shots courtesy of Mr Porter.

After a few months of suspicious glances across the Internet, I'm pleased to have finally introduced myself to Mr Porter. One season on after making its eagerly awaited big reveal, the online retailing powerhouse steps away from the fanfare and as it is caught by the blogging spotlight, looks quite dashing indeed. Next time I visit the Westfield office I'm bringing my tooth brush and moving in.


Alex said...

Wondered why you hadn't posted about Mr Porter previously as I thought you'd be all over it, now it all makes sense. Great picks.

helen turnbull said...

Oooh er, loving a bit of Givenchy.

Helen, x

Anonymous said...

Guessing the Central line wasn't out of action this time?


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