Dialogue around menswear is quite often rooted in the search for future classics; with regular nods to enduring icons Beaton, Bailey and Bowie. At Mr Porter – the venerated online retailer – content, commerce and ‘classic’ make up the triage of values that have contributed to its phenomenal growth. This month the brand unveils its first foray into ready-to- wear.
The line, entitled Mr P, has been shaped by seven years of intel gathered since the site launched in February 2011. Style director Olie Arnold, says: ‘We’re all self-confessed product nerds and we aren’t one of those sites that throws any brand or product up. We pour over everything that we do.’
The buyers looked at the pieces that they returned to year upon year to establish the core of Mr P. ‘We have been talking about this for a while – we wanted something that was of the highest quality, that appeals to a wide section of people. We didn’t want it to be a niche brand. We know what our customers like and we wanted to offer them pillars of a man’s wardrobe, but made the best that we could.’ Certain collars, fits and buttons have been used to reflect a sophistication that isn’t, as Arnold puts it, ‘in your face’.
The debut includes 53 items across ready-to- wear, including 24 styles available all year round and 29 seasonal pieces within a capsule inspired for launch by the British painter Lucian Freud. ‘We can directly respond to men’s buying habits. Like offering Winter coats in December-February when it’s actually cold. Or light Summer wear dropping in June and July vs the traditional seasonal calendar,’ says buying director Fiona Firth.
‘The core pieces are building blocks, where a man can create an evolving, modular wardrobe perfect to expand upon with seasonal style and colour. Silhouettes will change, but a white oxford shirt, stone-coloured chinos or a white t-shirt are timeless.’
Timeless doesn’t mean humdrum. Mr P’s 15-gauge cashmere knitwear, modernised Oxfords and Japanese selvedge denim are informally up-to- date. ‘In the 18 years that I’ve been working in menswear I think the approach to classics has changed,’ Arnold says. ‘Classics are always moving and so we have looked at updating the fit of things.’
He cites the drawstring trouser as something of a new staple. ‘It might have started off as a jogger, worn at home or in the gym, but now we see it in wool or cashmere. It has become more than just a fad. It’s now an integral part of a man’s wardrobe.’ Mr P is for the many, not the few. ‘We spent a long time working on this with our customers,’ Arnold concludes. ‘So we aren’t just talking to ourselves.’ The collection is available to purchase from 7 November.