What Mr Porter Can Teach You About Classic Style
Mr Porter is a name that every stylish man should know, particularly if he likes shopping online. Mr Porter is one of our favorite online destinations for the best modern menswear, and stocks a wide but expertly-curated selection of pieces from more than 300 top designers from around the world. In our book, Mr Porter joins the ranks of top menswear destinations like Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, and Nordstrom, but unlike those labels, Mr Porter has been around — and has managed to change the way millions of men shop for menswear — in just five years.
Mr Porter went live in February 2011, and was launched by Net-a-Porter, a favorite destination for women’s luxury fashion. As reported by The Wall Street Journal at the time, the site’s high-profile launch raised major questions: Would there be enough male shoppers to support an online store for luxury menswear? Would Mr. Porter’s profiles of real men demonstrate that style doesn’t need to be intimidating? Would Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet prove correct in stating that “I don’t think shopping right now really appreciates the way men want to shop”?
Massenet’s instinct proved correct. Mr Porter started by selling clothing and accessories by just 80 brands, with a mix of high-fashion lines like Alexander McQueen and Balmain, traditional brands like Brooks Brothers and John Lobb, and casual sportswear labels like J. Crew. Its count of designers has since surpassed 300, and the brand now attracts millions of shoppers every month. Tuesdays and Fridays — the days that new arrivals go live — draw thousands of orders. In celebrating its fifth anniversary, the retailer is not just celebrating a milestone, but is celebrating five years in which it truly and significantly changed the experience of shopping for menswear online.
Mr Porter not only made it easier for guys to purchase designer clothing and accessories (and make sure that they were ordering the right size and knew what to style those new pieces with), but also providing a global platform for what managing director Toby Bateman tells GQ was “more niche product with great craftsmanship and heritage attached to it.” Mr Porter put brands like Incotex, Falke, and AMI on the map, with the help of editorial content that shared how and where to wear something, plus facts about each brand or piece’s heritage.
So the retailer is celebrating its fifth anniversary with a 20-piece anniversary collection, comprised of “wardrobe staples reinvented for Mr. Porter by some of our favourite brands,” including Maison Margiela, Jean Shop, Gitman Vintage, A.P.C., and Incotex. The collection is full of timeless pieces in a very classic color scheme of black, white, and grey. The monochrome range is what Bateman characterizes as a way to “celebrate both our origins and our future.” And, while we wouldn’t expect anything less of Mr Porter, we’re excited to say that the collection can teach you quite a bit about classic style that will look good not only now, but in another five years, as well.
The anniversary collection is, first and foremost, a reminder that the most important pieces in your wardrobe are the basics that you can wear over and over. Buying a high-end pair of jeans, like Jean Shop’s slim-fit selvedge jeans, or a pricy pair of chinos, like Incotex’s slim-fit cotton chinos, becomes a much more realistic purchase when you realize that either of these pairs is going to be hard-wearing and long-lasting, as well as versatile enough to match just about anything you could pair with them.
The collection also makes it easy to see how all of the pieces in a well-curated, minimal wardrobe will match and make quick work of getting dressed in the morning. (The efficiency of a pared-down, streamlined wardrobe, plus its ability to help you identify your signature look, are both reasons we recommend evaluating whether a personal uniform could work for you.) There are just two pieces of outerwear in Mr Porter’s anniversary collection — a black Mackintosh raincoat and a black Boglioli blazer — but the two styles are all you need to sketch out the basic outerwear silhouettes of a timeless wardrobe.
Similarly, there are five tops included in the collection — a Maison Margiela cashmere sweater, a Todd Snyder x Champion sweatshirt, a Gitman Vintage oxford shirt, an A.P.C. breton-striped tee, and a Lacoste polo shirt — but each hits on a classic versatile silhouette. There are two pairs of shoes — penny loafers by John Lobb and leather sneakers by Common Projects — and a curated selection of accessories, including a wool and silk scarf from Drake’s, a London Undercover umbrella, a pair of Cutler & Gross glasses with clear or dark lenses, a Berluti leather backpack, and a Lock & Co. bowler hat.
Browsing the collection, you get the sense that you could pack up the pieces in a suitcase and travel to a destination near or far, warm or cold, and have all the essentials you need to pull together a variety of timeless outfits for a week or a month or a year. That’s what Mr Porter has demonstrated, in its first five years, is the greatest thing about classic style. If chosen carefully, each piece in your wardrobe can be worn in multiple ways, matched with a variety of different accessories, and remixed for years.