Interview: MR PORTER’s Style Director + New Mr P. Collection
MR PORTER has been around for nearly a decade, and in that time has cemented its position as one of the world’s leading online retailers for men. Their huge collection of the biggest names in fashion in combination with stellar customer service and an artful attention to detail makes the site one of our go-to shopping destinations.
Given MR PORTER’s influential position in the world of men’s fashion, it was only a matter of time until it launched its own brand. In 2017, Mr P. was announced; the retailer’s very own label. The debut Mr P. collection was comprised of a core range of stylish and premium everyday essentials — available year-round — as well as a seasonal range.
Today marks the release of the second Mr P. collection; a range inspired by the laid-back styles of 1960s LA. Think soft colours and relaxed cuts but with a distinct MR PORTER touch that feels very modern.
To celebrate the launch of the second Mr P. collection, we spoke to MR PORTER’s Style Director Olie Arnold about the brand and new collection…
Can you tell us about what your role as Style Director at MR PORTER involves?
My team and I oversee all the styling of MR PORTER branded content whether it’s seasonal campaigns, marketing, brand messaging, or online as part of our daily and weekly editorial for The Journal. I ensure the brand’s core values and vision are portrayed through styling and communication.
What inspired MR PORTER to launch its own label?
It is something we’ve been talking about internally for a long time, but we wanted to wait until the right time. As an online retailer, we are very fortunate to be able to easily track buying patterns and habits — at heart we are all product nerds so enjoy knowing who our customer really is. We saw a gap in the market between contemporary and casual wear and knew this was something we could bolster. We really focused on great design and premium fabrications, the team have gone to great lengths to make sure we produced the best possible product; sourcing the finest suppliers from all over the world.
How has the reception to Mr P. been so far?
Fantastic! The whole launch process ended up taking about 14 months, so when it finally went live it was incredibly surprising and rewarding to see it do so well. We really feel that Mr P. has resonated with a wide audience, which was always our intention; we wanted to make the brand inclusive, wearable, and accessible. I think customers trust the integrity of the MR PORTER brand, and therefore they were confident in purchasing when it came to Mr P. the label.
What are the key inspiration points?
The line is split into 2 parts. An essentials line that is made up of 24 iconic menswear garments — such as an oxford shirt and selvedge denim jeans, and 5 seasonal drops that are very much of the buy now, wear now model. When we first launched, the collection was inspired by 1960s London, although brought very much up to date, and the second capsule is inspired by the same time period, but this time focused on America. The 1960s, particularly in LA, was a great time for men’s fashion; it was really the beginning of outfit experimentation and breaking away from past eras where men traditionally wore suits.
We took key icons such as Ed Ruscha, Dennis Hopper, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol and brought on little bits of their unique style. Suede and denim being quite a pivotal look at the time, has been re-created and included in the second MR P. collection.
How have you managed to balance this influence from the past with contemporary style?
Through fabrications and cut we’re keen to make Mr P. a very contemporary brand. Inspiration and touch points are there but fabrications give it a modern feel.
Can you tell us about some of the key materials used in this collection and where the garments have been manufactured?
The majority of the collection is made in Italy, with select jersey items made in Portugal, and the denim and patchwork shirt fabrics in Japan. The 1960s Californian care-free attitude of that time is embodied through relaxed tailoring, laidback sportswear, garment-dyed jerseys and t-shirts, and a colour palette of washed-out and bleached tones.
Is there an overarching philosophy or ethos that the Mr P. design team abides by when creating a new collection?
Through icons past and present, through silhouettes and fabrications; our vision is to create premium contemporary products that are relevant to today’s market. We aren’t worried about being too trend-driven, the idea is to create pieces that will work in a man’s wardrobe, not just for one season but for years to come.
What are some of your favourite pieces from the new collection?
The tan suede jacket is a standout piece. The colour, fabrication, and design have seasonal longevity and it will naturally get better with age. We’ve also created a wide leg herringbone pant. It’s a new style for us, it gives a nod to the past but also looks good with a modern-day sneaker. Lastly, I am a big fan of the camp collar striped cotton shirt; the short sleeves and a wide stripe camp collar is very 1960s America — very wearable and cool.
What else is planned for Mr P. this year?
We have big ambitions for the brand, watch this space!