Ports 1961 creative director Milan Vukmirovic on the brand’s latest streetwear collection: Ports V
A MULTITUDE OF luxury fashion brands have been streamlining their focuses and shaking off diffusion lines over the past years. Dolce & Gabbana got rid of D&G; Marc Jacobs shed its Marc by Marc Jacobs label; and Burberry fused its Burberry Prorsum, Brit and London lines into one cohesive brand.
But there’s at least one brand out there disrupting this trend. Ports 1961 has just announced the launch of its debut contemporary streetwear-inspired collection, designed by creative director Milan Vukmirovic and available exclusively on Farfetch. The “see now, buy now” capsule is a collection of unisex products not meant to be collected and hidden away in the wardrobe – this is a collection for real, everyday life. Comprising a range of products including slogan T-shirts, graphic sweaters, colour-block denim and accessories such as backpacks, hats, card cases, phone cases and daily essentials, there’s definitely something for everybody.
What prompted the launch of the Ports V line? Did you see a gap in the market?
I realised three years ago that a new generation of clients was coming: Customers who love fashion, who have direct access to fashion via social media platforms – so, they’re well-informed – and who buy more and more online. This new digital generation is fast. People get bored quickly, and therefore they want constant novelty and at a reasonable price point. Also, fashion is so much more democratic today, so in the volume of tonnes of collections and brands, they want limited editions and exclusive products. And this millennial generation has no rules. They mix streetwear with sportswear with luxury. It’s more than a trend; it’s a real change of consuming fashion. That’s why we came up with Ports V – a see-now, buy-now concept with six collections a year, evolving constantly with the trends.
How do you identify emerging trends?
When I start a collection, I always think about what I would like to wear next and what I have seen around me the past months – movies, music, exhibitions… A creative director today needs to have his own voice and style, but also needs to be like a sponge and reflect in his work what is going on in the world.
What’s the turnover time for one capsule collection from design to delivery?
Obviously the first year will be a test for us. For now, we have decided to have six capsules a year, so a new delivery every two months.
Collections used to be biannual, then quarterly and now, with Ports V, bimonthly. This schedule seems to be closer to the drop rates of streetwear and fast fashion than that of a luxury brand. Do you think that having collections traditionally released several months apart – by seasons – isn’t quick enough to satisfy the constantly evolving needs of your customers?
Ports V is not evolving in the luxury world. Luxury needs time, so having a fashion show collection on the catwalk and seeing it six months afterwards in-store is okay. Even so, we are seeing more and more luxury brands creating small, extra capsule collections. Things are going faster for sure. It’s a sign of the times.
Do you a think a brand and the designers of a collection should dictate what people wear, or should the system be more organic, where there is more interaction and dialogue between the designer and the wearer?
Definitely more interaction. Like I said before, the new generation of customers has no rules and aren’t so faithful to a brand in the long run if the creativity and offerings aren’t appealing to them. That said, the marketing is becoming so powerful for every brand that, by creating limited editions and creating buzz, you push clients to buy. Marketing people are listening more to clients’ needs and wants.
As consumers are becoming aware of sustainable and ethical fashion, consumption behaviour is starting to change. How does a product line with bimonthly capsule collections such as Ports V factor in sustainability?
Sustainable fashion is happening very slowly. For many brands, it’s a marketing trick. The price point is so important that it comes first for most of the companies. People are shopping vintage or recycled fashion because it is a trend. In reality, companies like H&M should produce less.
Is this collection designed to be a line of evergreen basics to complement higher-priced items from the main fashion collection? Or rather, is it a collection of the hottest thing at the moment and you’d like to see it worn in its entirety?
Every Ports V capsule will be different. It is really about what I want to wear. Fashion always comes with a desire. Nobody needs one more basic item…
These collections operate on a see-now, buy-now schedule. Customers are becoming increasingly impatient and want to get their hands on the newest thing as soon as possible. At the same time, more and more brands are adopting this retail strategy. In a sense, fashion starts to lose its place as a pillar of desire and becomes just another consumer product. Why do you think consumers have become so impatient?
Fashion will always be there to make people dream. Fashion shows today are entertainment and publicity. It feeds social media and consumers. It’s just going faster. Clothes were always supposed to be sold, so there is nothing wrong with being more consumer-driven. Maybe the fashion world forgot that a few years ago and made space for Uniqlo, COS or Zara to exist. But now, new consumers are tired of the basics and want more creativity. That’s why high fashion is still so relevant, and fast fashion is evolving by being cooler and less boring.
What made you decide to distribute this collection exclusively through online retail? And why Farfetch?
Ports V speaks to a customer for whom newness, exclusivity and accessible price points are integral to their contemporary fashion experience. We felt that the launch exclusively through online retail in combination with the online campaign on our Ports V Instagram account, including the collaborations with KOLs across industries, genders and nationalities, was the perfect way to reach and activate the hearts and minds of consumers. Farfetch has extensive experience operating globally and is available in different local-language websites, which makes it a perfect platform for the global expansion of Ports V.
Although the launch was exclusively through online retail, I still see the importance of offline retail in interacting with the consumer and creating brand awareness. We aim to have presence in the offline channel via pop-up stores, key department stores and potentially direct retail. Ports V emphasises our commitment to engaging with a new generation at more accessible price points, as predictably, they will become our core consumer in the next decade.