David Morris, Senior Footwear Buyer, MRPORTER.COM
“Takahiromiyashita TheSoloist offers exceptional fits and expert attention to detail, and this cardigan is the perfect example. It’s been intarsia-knitted in Japan from smooth silk in a monochrome palette meaning it can be layered or worn with just a t-shirt - a versatile SS18 piece.”
Left - Takahiromiyashita TheSoloist - Slim-Fit Argyle Silk Zip-Up Cardigan - £1365
“Arc’teryx are specialists in performance clothing without the compromise in aesthetics and this shell coat from their ‘Veilance' line is the perfect lightweight spring addition. Made in Canada, it is water and wind-resistant to see you through spring’s tempestuous weather and if the sun does decide to appear you can simply fold it into its own internal pocket.”
Left - Arc’teryx - Veilance Monitor SL Packable Water-Resistant Shell Coat - £560
“Nothing gets you excited for summer more than a new pair of sunglasses and this handmade, round frame pair by Cutler And Gross are in my wish list. They have a timeless appeal which will leave you sipping pina coladas in style.”
Below - Cutler And Gross - Round-Frame Acetate Sunglasses - £310
“Sandals are key trend for SS18, these from Prada are amongst my favourites which we have to offer at MR PORTER. Made from durable black webbing on a contoured leather insole, these will look great with either a smart slim pair of trousers or a pair of well-fitting shorts.”
Left - Prada - Leather Trimmed Webbing Sandals - £415
“This Our Legacy silk yellow shirt has been dyed to give it a washed out, lived in feel, another key trend for SS18. It’s my top pick to master understated style for the warmer months ahead.”
Left - Our Legacy - New Silk Shirt - £190
Every man should be buying a silk shirt this season, read more why here
Launched in 2017, MARRAM Co offers a luxury, personalised natural shave with the finest of essential oiled infused foams and chrome hardware kits. Hoping to transform shaving into a pleasurable ritual, MARRAM Co believe that the preparation behind the shave is key and have created shaving creams to match your mood, all manufactured in the UK.
Left - MARRAM Co - "Power Up" - Metal tubes and quality fragrances makes this shaving to remember
Using organic essential oils sourced from 212 organic farms all over the world, the creams are therapeutic even for the man with the most sensitive of skin. Choose from “Wake Up Call”, “You’ve Got This”, “It’s Cold”, “Power Up”, “Night Out”, "The Morning After”, “Time Out” and “You Might Get Lucky”.
TheChicGeek says, “When you think about shaving products it’s interesting how, for something we literally put under our noses, quality fragrance hasn’t played a more dominant role.
Named after the grey-green tufts of Marram grass found on British coastal sand dunes, MARRAM, also a palindrome - the same forwards as backwards - is a collection of shaving creams offering distinctive and quality scents.
The brand centres on the traditional barbering routine of cream, bowl and brush. Most guys won’t be bothered with this faff on a daily basis, but it’s definitely for a time when you can enjoy the ritual.
The brushes, razor handle and bowls are really top quality and are priced to match. The razor takes a Gillette head and everything, including the shaving creams, is made in the UK.
Right - MARRAM Co - Brush & Bowl Set - £250
While the hardware is expensive, I like the way they’ve made the shaving cream realistic in pricing - in two sizes, £8 for 20ml and £20 for 100ml - it also means you can play with the fragrances and try a few.
There are 9 different scents, all with fun names, 7 are permanent and a couple are limited-editions. It’s light and foams up nicely and easy to apply with your hands.
I think people are willing to pay more for products with quality scents. I feel £20 is good for 100ml, here, and those essentials oils are the things that transport you, for a few seconds at least, to another place and makes shaving less of a chore and more of a pleasure. The heat and steam of shaving is ideal for these essential oils to really do their best work.
This reminds me of the shaving cream from Buly that smells like marzipan that I like - read more here - and my favourite is “Wake Up Call” with its earthy vetiver fragrance.
I think MARRAM & Co are onto something here. I like the branding, I like the metal tubes and I like the fragrances. I just need to shave more!”
Below - MARRAM Co - Shaving Cream - 20ml - £8 100ml - £20
Exclusive to MRPORTER.COM
Annoyingly, when practicality rears its head, design is often compromised. But not this time. I first noticed the ‘McCaffrey’ brand, very recently, in Paris at the men’s trade shows. What looked like a selection of beautifully made shoes was quickly shown to offer an extra, simple and effective detail for cyclists.
At the back of each shoe is a reflective tab you can simply flip up when on your bike. It would even work when worn as a pedestrian during the darker evenings.
Left & Right - McCaffrey - Suede Derby Shoes - £370 from MRPORTER.COM
Founded by Robert McCaffrey, and available exclusively at MRPORTER.COM, the concept arose on Robert’s first day as a design lecturer at Glasgow School of Art. His formal shoes were unsuitable for even the short journey by bicycle so development began on enhancing traditional shoes to become suitable for city cycling.
Robert's background includes roles as Design Chief for Belgian fashion designer Dirk Bikkembergs and senior footwear consultant for LVMH and Adidas Y-3.
McCaffrey footwear combines technical innovation with world-class craftsmanship - they are made in Portugal, near Porto, in the historic shoe making district, by a 3-generation, family run company - to provide performance and elegance for today’s smart city traveller. Said to be inspired by today’s zeitgeist movement of ‘active-travel’ which encourages walking and cycling, McCaffrey has developed and patented an exclusive range of features for pavement and pedal.
Left - McCaffrey - Leather-Panelled Suede Slip-On Sneakers - £275 from MRPORTER.COM
Right - McCaffrey - Leather Boots - £440 from MRPORTER.COM
Anti-slip soles and handy side zips increase their practicality and showcase Robert’s 20 years’ design experience in the fashion, luxury and sports industries.
It's not often safety looks this good. I don’t even own a bike and I want these.
When wholesaling multiple brands you’re as strong as the market. You can’t sell what isn’t available. Obvs. Often there is a demand from your customers with nobody fulfilling the supply.
I’ve spoken to buyers at large designer websites, in the past, who have said that many brands have forgotten about the basics and instead only offer key, statement pieces of the season. Tiger, anybody?!
Left - RAEY - AW17
They’ve picked up lesser known brands to fill these gaps - sometimes a guy just wants a plain white shirt without a snake on it - but, ultimately, they know what they need and often the only way to find it is to create your own “house” label.
Matchesfashion.com launched “Raey” a few years ago and, Mr Porter is launching a “Mr P” own label, today. Own labels used to be looked down upon as the lower/entry end of the retailer’s offering, but, now, they are offering something you can’t get from the other brands or give the retailers some consistency and reliability, whether that be black trousers, simple grey v-necks, or something more directional like Sta-press denim.
There’s obviously a demand. Since its inception, in 2015, Raey, matchesfashion.com's in-house brand, has seen 85% growth year-on-year with strong growth across knits and jersey, in particular. A standalone store opened in April 2017 in Notting Hill, in a former franchise store owned by matchesfashion.com.
According to the blurb, the creation of MR PORTER’s “MR P.” brand has been informed by seven years' of customer insight - more than 600,000 shoppers to date - and the invaluable feedback and shopping patterns they’ve observed since launching in February 2011.
The MR P. launch collection has 53 items across ready-to-wear, including 24 “Essential" styles, available year-round, and 29 seasonal styles within the debut capsule. The majority of the collection is made in Italy, with select items made in Portugal, and the denim in Japan. Pricing ranges from £55 for the core T-shirts, through to £875 for the capsule’s leather aviator jacket.
Right - MR P. - the new own label by MRPORTER
The chosen muse for this launch capsule is 20th-century British painter and portraitist Lucian Freud, during his prime in 1950s London.
“At MR PORTER, we are – first and foremost – product people. This passion for quality, uniqueness, style and versatility has been the backbone to developing our business for the past seven years. The launch of MR P. has therefore been quite organic for us; we felt there was a space in our mix of 400-plus brands for something that could present a unique take on wardrobe classics and also present regular capsules of more trend- and seasonal-driven pieces throughout the year. We like to think we have an unparalleled view of the male wardrobe, garnering the combined knowledge of our buyers and editors, and MR P. is ultimately the result of that: smart details, easy pieces and enduring style.” says Toby Bateman, Managing Director, MR PORTER.
The second limited-edition MR P. capsule will launch in February, followed by a third in April. MR P. will introduce shoes and accessories for AW18.
This is a case of these retailers trying to fill the gaps and offer pieces that are consistently available. As these businesses get bigger and bigger then can afford to offer more and also a point of difference that makes them a destination rather than just another retail site selling the same designers.
It’s also important to note that wholesale is so difficult, now, that many brands are moving away from it or closing altogether. Smaller brands can’t afford to tie all their money up in stock, which they won’t get money from until the end of the season or, could, at worst, be sent back to them. This cashflow problem is what has killed off many small brands and also deters many from the wholesale model.
Plus, many people are happy with affordable basics so look to designers for something different or recognisable which has driven designers to only offer these styles. Matchesfashion.com and MRPORTER are so big now they can offer these own-label collections. What they have to remember is, these “Essentials” are the workhorses of a man’s wardrobe and as such need to be good quality in order to satisfy the customer.
Left - Unbranded "Essentials" mixed with a few capsule pieces is part of the new MR P. ethos
Daniel Todd, Buyer at MRPORTER.COM
“I am a huge fan of Prada’s knitwear for this fall with my favourite being this Shetland Wool Sweater; it's bang on trend as graphic knitwear is key for the season. Made entirely by hand in Italy, this loud and chunky piece is as much an art form as it is knitwear. An eye-catching jumper not for the faint hearted, I’ll be wearing mine with jeans or corduroy trousers.”
Left - Prada - Shetland Wool Sweater - £1375
“Wanting to purchase a plush pair of feel-good corduroy trousers immediately indicates that autumn is here, time for the shorts to be packed away! My choice is this black number from Our Legacy, made from exceptional fabrication of soft and durable cotton-corduroy, its minimal design is versatile enabling it to be worn with simple knitwear and shirting.”
Left - Our Legacy - Wide-Leg Cotton-Corduory Trousers - £225
“Slogan t-shirts and jerseys have been huge for a few seasons now and continuing into this winter. Featuring a quote from Mr Benjamin Franklin, “Lost time is never found again”, I’ll be sporting this jersey on cold winter days when needing that little extra motivation to get things done.”
Left - Takahiromiyashita Thesoloist. - Printed Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt - £270
“A padded overshirt is a genius alternative to a jacket this autumn from Balenciaga's Creative Director Mr Demna Gvasalia. Quilted and padded for insulation and volume, this piece has to be my favourite must have. Ticking the 90s sportswear trend box, I’ll be wearing mine layered over knitwear with retro sneakers.”
Left - Balenciaga - Oversized Padded Checked Cotton-Flannel Overshirt - £815
“A great coat is essential for winter, after all it’s the item of clothing that you will be seen most in the coming months. My pick of statement outerwear is this double breasted overcoat from Gucci. Crafted from pure cashmere in a timeless shade of tan, this really is one exceptional coat.”
Left - Gucci - Slim-Fit Double-Breasted Cashmere Overcoat - £2840
Not all logos are created equal and one that is hot one minute, can quickly, for various reasons, become fashion deadly nightshade. Fashion goes through waves of logomania and then decides it's over, done that and goes subtle and that usually lasts about two minutes with most brands when they see sales falling.
Anyway, the hot logo for AW17 and SS18 is the full name running diagonally across. Think of a branded piece of tissue paper and you get the idea.
When Balenciaga relaunched under new designer Demna Gvasalia the website was given a tasteful tasteless makeover with the name 'Balenciaga Paris' running diagonally across. It then made its way onto clothes and accessories.
I'm not sure how long this is going to last, but, right now, it's cool.
Far Left - Bally SS18
Left - Palm Angels SS18
Below - Balenciaga SS18
Left - MSGM SS18
Below - Balenciaga - Intarsia Wool-Blend Scarf - £365 from MRPORTER.COM
Put yellow and red together and you don't get orange, but Baywatch. This colour combo always says ‘Lifeguard’, even though on the new film, strangely, they’re using red and blue. Must be a copyright issue!
Anyway, make like Zac and Dwayne down on the beach and go for T-shirts and swim shorts in primary red and yellow. Take the hassle out of Hasselhoff and keep it simple. A strong yellow T-Shirt has always been a difficult one to blend into the wardrobe, but add a red swim short and you get a perfect combo.
Left - An oldie, but a goodie - Original Baywatch
Even if the film’s a load of rubbish, which it probably will be, you can’t get away from the attraction of the sea and surf. Forever and always, I'm always here!
Below - St. Moriz, the no.1 volume self tan brand in the UK, is making a big splash this summer by partnering with the new Baywatch movie which hit screens from 29th May
Left - Orlebar Brown - OB-V - Sunshine Tailored-Fit V-Neck T-Shirt - £65, BULLDOG - Raspberry Mid-Length Swim Shorts - £145
Left - Whistles - Crumple Everyday T-Shirt - £35
Below - Topman - Red Embroidery Swim Shorts - £16
Left - Orlebar Brown SS17
Left - ASOS - Longline Knitted T-Shirt With Curved Hem In Yellow - £18
Below - Thom Browne - Slim-Fit Short-Length Stripe-Trimmed Swim Shorts - £290 from MRPORTER
Below - Topman - Mustard Reality Print T-Shirt - £15
Left - River Island - Yellow Rolled Sleeve Pocket T-Shirt - £8
Left - Patagonia - Nine Trails Jersey T-Shirt - £35 from MRPORTER
Below - Speedo - Solid Leisure 16” Swim Shorts - £15]
To call it a recession is maybe a little extreme, but let’s call it a contraction. Menswear is struggling. Some are mouthing the word #brexit but this was coming way before that and affecting international markets too, most notably America.
Like everything that goes in cycles, you have your ups and you have your downs. We’re definitely in a down cycle as brands merge their men’s and women’s and reduce the amount of labels within their brands.
Left - Inside menswear is screaming
Many are private companies so they don’t disclose profits, but when you have menswear giants like Armani and Ralph Lauren losing labels - Collezioni and Armani Jeans in the case of Armani and store closures - in the case of Ralph Lauren - then things are clearly unsustainable.
Why is this happening? The first big answer is a saturated market. Do we need much more ‘stuff’? When Ikea’s head of sustainability, Steve Howard, said we’d reached “peak stuff”, he hit the nail on the head. We’ve seen expansion online and offline and our wardrobes are bursting with clothes at every price point.
Designer fashion isn’t coming up with many new ideas and this has lead to the high-street bringing the new ideas and offering improved quality that many men are happy with. I think companies like ASOS are doing well because people are trading down to cheaper and more fun fashion and don't really wear it long enough to care about the quality.
Brands like Topman have got more and more expensive and are not reactive enough to trends and the latest gimmicks and fashions. They’ve believed in their own ‘cool’ which is dangerous for any brand. Arcadia, Topman’s parent company, has seen many high profile departures lately. Craig McGregor left his role as retail director at Topshop/Topman, after eight years, and Topshop/Topman global commercial director Matt Brewster is leaving the company. Wesley Taylor left his role as managing director of Burton and Yasmin Yusuf left as creative director of Miss Selfridge, both after more than 10 years at the business. Which all suggests the epic growth Arcadia has experienced over the last few decades has now ground to a halt. They are no longer the darling of the British high-street.
Another reason for the men’s downturn is competition is fierce and this had lead to a discount environment. People know they can wait for the sale or search the internet for a discount code. This makes margins smaller for companies which then need to sell even larger volumes. We’ve also seen growth in companies like TK Maxx that offer people the brands they want, but with heavy discounts.
Fashion has changed too. It’s very sportswear/dress down driven. These are cheap or old clothes. Looking ‘expensive’ has gone out of fashion. Brands like Balenciaga and Gosha Rubchinskiy have pioneered this style of fugly fashion and while not cheap they have prices that are more realistic and attainable.
Millennials are all about ‘experiences’ and are less materialistic, or so we’re are told. All those selfies tell a different story, but I think they want to eat out and wear something new, which ultimately means spending less. This big group of young consumers is squeezed by rents, student loans and low wages and this isn’t going to change for the foreseeable future.
In the Evening Standard on Monday, Net-a-Porter/Mr Porter boss, Alison Loehnis, said when they measured “zeitgeist buying” in the Mr Porter team they discovered the number one item was socks. “Followed by Ray-Bans and trainers.” Socks?!! Now, that is worrying. Unless Mr Porter is selling hundreds of millions of dollars worth of socks, which I doubt, then it’s a signifier of the market. It’s too expensive and they are the cheapest things they sell. It’s also one of the main gifting items and something you don’t need to try on.
Online is still only 10% of the retail market so has huge potential, but that still means 9 in every 10 pounds is spent on the high street.
Net-a-Porter/Mr Porter call their top customers ‘EIPs’, (EXTREMELY IMPORTANT PERSON) and these EIPs are the two per cent of customers who account for 40 per cent of NAP revenue. It’s dangerous to have all your eggs in a few baskets, particularly a fickle customer which many others are chasing. They’re now offering a service where the driver waits while these EIPs try things on. It’s a gimmick, but at least it shows they’re trying. These EIPS are the people shopping in Selfridges and Harrods too, while the rest of us have seen our wage packets shrink or not go as far and designer prices continue to rise. #Brexit will make imports to the UK more expensive, temporarily, but fashion will just find somewhere cheaper to make it, but it’s true the weakest wont survive this price hike or margin cut.
Brands have been trimming the fat over the last few years and many are down to the bare bones. The recent christmas was good for retailers and I think that kept many afloat, for now.
Jaeger just announced its bankruptcy. I don’t think there’s much hope for it to survive as it is, but it’ll become a brand within Edinburgh Woollen Mill or the like. It’s the sign of the times and also the cycle of brands. There are times when a brand runs its course and no matter how much investment or time, it’s just time to let it go.
Okay, enough doom and gloom. On a positive note from a down you have an up and when a gap appears something new will come into fill it. But, our addiction to cheap clothes isn’t going anywhere which will make it very difficult for new, smaller brands or labels to compete. I think short term we’ll see more closures and less choice or a choice masked by the fact it’s a sub brand from a big retailer. H&M is just about to launch Arket.
One thing is for sure, fashion is unpredictable and that’s why I love it.
We’re going to take our warm weather inspiration from Michael Fassbender, today. This is how you want your polo shirt to look this summer. Of course, it helps if you have the body, but a knitted polo shirt with stretch will compliment most body types.
You want it to cling in the right places, so the chest and arms, so go for something fitted, but not too tight. The high-street are doing some great knitted polos at affordable prices or opt for something pricier in a bold colour. Go for a fine knit wool, even in summer, or a silk mix.
Left - Michael Fassbender at SXSW showing us how something so simple can look so good
Here are TheChicGeek’s favourites of the season:
Left - William Lockie for L+M Ecru Fine Knit Cotton Polo - £43 from Trouva
Left - Pretty Green - Stone Fortrose Knitted Polo - £65
Left - Prada - Slim-Fit Jacquard-Knit Wool Polo Shirt - £545 from MRPORTER.COM
Below - Reiss 'Manor' Merino Wool Polo Shirt - £75
Left - Fred Perry - Tipped Knitted Shirt - £70
Left - ASOS - Knitted Short Sleeve Textured Polo In Muscle Fit - £20
Below - River Island - Ecru Knitted Polo Shirt - £20
Left - Pretty Green X John Smedley - Chartham - £135
Left - H&M - Silk-Blend Polo Shirt - £24.99
Below - Peter Werth - SS17
Robyn Ferris, Junior Buyer at MR PORTER
"This summer expect a renewed popularity of vintage-style jackets. The colour of this Officine Generale’s suede jacket pairs perfectly with jeans and is ideal for those in-between months when the weather can’t seem to make up its mind. The jacket’s water-repellent coating guarantees that the beautiful suede won't be sullied by any light rain!"
Left - Officine Generale - Slim-Fit Water-Repellent Suede Jacket - £930
"I’m a big fan of Inis Meáin and their hand finished knits. We have a great selection for spring available on site now including lightweight linen melange sweaters and cardigans. My favourite piece is this waffle-knit sweater, it will introduce textual diversity into your casual wardrobe, looks great worn with jeans or shorts and will take you through to autumn".
Below - Inis Meáin - Gansey Waffle-Knit Linen and Cotton-Blend Sweater - £185
"The relaxed vibe of this shirt perfectly encapsulates summer for me. I love the variations in tone it has from the dye and its crisp touch gives a summer feel whether worn under a cardigan with jeans or with swim shorts on holiday".
Left - Massimo Alba - Watercolour-Dyed Washed-Ramie Shirt - £200
"Having recently just launched on MR PORTER, I adore Arpenteur’s heritage-inspired collection. Perfectly capturing casual French attire, this classic cotton Breton stripe t-shirt is a must have for summer. The relaxed cut and three-quarter sleeves recall traditional naval uniforms".
Left - Arpenteur - Brehat Striped Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt - £75
"No man’s summer wardrobe is complete without a new pair of swim shorts and my pick out of this season’s selection is this Incotex swim short. The art deco print will get you noticed on the beach and as they are designed to fit like a pair of trousers, they are far more refined than your average pair".
Below - Incotex - Short-Length Printed Swim Shorts - £150