Our guilty lunchtime habit Match­es­fash­ion.com thinks it knows what the fu­ture of lux­ury shop­ping looks like — and it’s as much about com­mu­nity and col­laboration as cash trans­ac­tions. JAMIE HUCKBODY en­ters 5 Car­los Place

Harper’s Bazaar (Australia) - - Contents - By JAMIE HUCKBODY

Match­es­fash­ion.com builds a tem­ple to fash­ion.

“Ev­ery­body is look­ing for com­mu­nity and home be­cause I think ev­ery­body’s feel­ing a bit lost with the world.” – JESS CHRISTIE

There’s a rev­o­lu­tion hap­pen­ing in May­fair. Just down the road from Ba­len­ci­aga and right op­po­sitethe Con­naught ho­tel (where per­sonal but­lers are pro­vided as part of the stealth-wealth ser­vice), it is a rev­o­lu­tion that is un­fold­ing dis­creetly, be­hind the po­lite fa­cade of an Ed­war­dian town­house: No. 5 Car­los Place.the pro­tag­o­nist? Match­es­fash­ion.com, the lux­ury re­tailer whose web­site alone at­tracts some 100 mil­lion vis­i­tors a year, from more than 170 coun­tries, and which drives 95 per cent of all the com­pany’s sales.

“We have al­ways wanted to com­bine the very best of both phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences un­der one roof, and that’s ex­actly what we have achieved with 5 Car­los Place,” says Ul­ric Jerome, the Paris-born CEO of Match­es­fash­ion.com, with more than a soupçon of pride.“and so, a year and a half ago we de­cided it was time to find a per­ma­nent home, a sym­bolic, well-lo­cated space where we could per­son­ally in­ter­act with our cus­tomers while of­fer­ing the choice and con­ve­nience that comes with dig­i­tal.”

Fast-for­ward some 18 months and fash­ion’s best kept se­cret is open for busi­ness: a seam­less fu­sion of prod­uct (care­fully edited from more than 450 de­sign­ers/brands), dig­i­tal con­tent and smart tech with con­sumer events and broad­cast­ing .“the door here is al­ways open,” Jerome con­tin­ues. “You walk into the space and you re­ally feel like you’re at home. It’s beau­ti­ful. And the tech­nol­ogy is not in your face.”

He’s not fib­bing. As you en­ter the hand­some five-storey, 2130 square me­tre build­ing, which has been lov­ingly re­stored by P. Joseph ar­chi­tects (one of the prac­tice’s part­ners, Philip Joseph, is Er­dem’s other half, in­ci­den­tally), you swipe your smart­phone onto a QR code that ac­ti­vates the Match­es­fash­ion.com app. (If, like me, you don’t have it, it prompts you to down­load it.) While you’re en­joy­ing the cheery “Hello. In­sert your name here. Wel­come to 5 Car­los Place” that pops up on your screen, staff can ac­cess your cus­tomer pro­file de­tails, com­plete with the lust-haves on your wish list, your siz­ing and any re­cent pur­chases. Clever. The first two floors are re­tail spa­ces (com­plete with a vend­ing ma­chine that dis­penses luxe nov­el­ties; Iud sic tao tree id li at seo cm use and per na ad ta em matches and a MarineS err elighter“fo rye ox­ucer rip teo­drf um mode itd at cu am­nd­selqe us a” ti a while I was there ), dis­play­ing Matches fas hiovnel.ciposu mm’ sqeux­ecpl lu as bi vileiq cu oils-it a lab­o­ra­tions, which will change ev­ery two wsue­sevkosl.otrah­teurienhset­nadl­laat­di­uon­ntsur kicked off with Pr ad a—an ap­pro­pri­at­e­chro em ic en steo ere is­nd­gol au sttf ah co culg la hut Matches was Prada’s first ever UK s to ck ist.“oularnc toe lt laqbuios­ru­att ions

are borne out of look­ing at what the cus­tomer is en­gag­ing with and what peo­ple are re­ally re­spond­ing to,” ex­plains Natalie King­ham, Match­es­fash­ion.com’s fash­ion and buy­ing di­rec­tor, whose pas­sion for what she does is in­fec­tious.“it all starts with the cus­tomer.”

“We wanted to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment where de­sign­ers have free­dom of ex­pres­sion within a re­tail space,” chimes in chief brand of­fi­cer Jess Christie.“now, with Marine Serre, it looks com­pletely dif­fer­ent again.” (By the time you read this, a fine-jew­ellery in­stal­la­tion will be in place, to be fol­lowed by Grace Wales Bon­ner’s Caribbean ex­trav­a­ganza, and then a Hil­lier Bart­ley launch.) Brows­ing Serre’s fu­sion of ath­leti­cism and func­tion­al­ity (favourite item? The Ball bag, with its silk-scarf han­dle), you come across other dis­creetly placed QR codes that en­able you to dis­cover con­tent (run­way videos and shop­pable prod­uct pages), as well as ipads on which you can shop the full Match­es­fash­ion.com in­ven­tory. “Any­thing you like can be de­liv­ered within 90 min­utes to one of the four pri­vate shop­ping suites that are across two floors — even if it’s just to try stuff on,” says Christie, who has been in­stru­men­tal in re­defin­ing per­sonal shop­ping for the 21st cen­tury.“we wanted to give a fuller ex­pe­ri­ence to our cus­tomers — not just of­fer them a glass of cham­pagne in a per­sonal dress­ing room — so we have re­ally fo­cused on events and a cul­tural pro­gram, be­cause we know our cus­tomers want to go on a jour­ney of dis­cov­ery with us.”

And this is where the use of tech at 5 Car­los Place re­ally comes into its own.“you can be in Syd­ney, Newyork, Sin­ga­pore or Perth and con­nect di­rectly to us through our web­site and go to a new cat­e­gory called ‘What’s On’,” Jerome says. “There, you can see ev­ery­thing that’s go­ing on in the house and you can fol­low the livestream of the panel dis­cus­sions or lis­ten to the pod­casts we pro­duce.” It is 5 Car­los Place’s broad­cast­ing abil­ity and the gal­vanis­ing ef­fect that has on Match­es­fash­ion.com’s global com­mu­nity that Jerome is most proud of. “No­body has done that be­fore: cre­ated a phys­i­cal re­tail space whose en­tirety can be used as a broad­cast­ing hub,” he says. “Now, ev­ery­thing we do is broad­castable so that we can reach out to the wider global au­di­ence.the ex­clu­siv­ity is within the na­ture of the con­tent.the in­clu­siv­ity is our reach.”

The events pro­gram will run all year, with high­lights from the late Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber sched­ules in­clud­ing Mary Ka­trant­zou’s 10th-an­niver­sary cock­tail party (with the launch of an ex­clu­sive cap­sule col­lec­tion of archival pieces); a De­signer Py­jama Party to cel­e­brate the launch of a py­jama col­lec­tion; and some­thing billed as ‘Modern Blends with The Her­ball’, where a team of con­tem­po­rary herbal­ists, nu­tri­tion­ists and aro­mather­a­pists will cre­ate cus­tom botan­i­cal po­tions, scents and elixirs “to re­lax, re­store and re­vive”. Sign me up.

“Ev­ery­body wants to dis­cover the new. And if the new­ness and dis­cov­ery can be fre­quent, with the abil­ity for peo­ple to see it’s com­ing from an au­then­tic space, then peo­ple will en­gage,” Jerome says. “Of course, we are very care­ful about what kind of con­tent we pro­duce. So, there will be mas­ter­classes with a Miche­lin-star chef or a flower-ar­rang­ing ex­pert.i think so­cial me­dia has em­pha­sised our cu­rios­ity and cre­ated so many op­por­tu­ni­ties to dis­cover and to open doors — both phys­i­cal and vir­tual — we didn’t know were there.”

A lot of this ac­tiv­ity will take place on 5 Car­los Place’s top floor — the at­tic — which is home to the broad­cast­ing hub, the cafe (Aussie su­perchef Skye Gyn­gell re­cently hosted an in­ti­mate sup­per club with bio­dy­namic pro­duce there), and a huge cab­i­net of cu­riosi­ties: the

“No­body has done that be­fore: cre­ated a phys­i­cal re­tail space whose en­tirety can be used as a broad­cast­ing hub.” – UL­RIC JEROME

phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tion of pod­cast se­ries The Col­lec­tor’s House, in which Danielle Rado­jcin, Match­es­fash­ion.com’s di­rec­tor of pro­grams and broad­cast­ing, speaks ev­ery week to a dif­fer­ent creative about their five most prized items.“i found my­self lis­ten­ing to an amaz­ing sus­tain­abil­ity dis­cus­sion the other day with a panel chaired by Livia Firth [of con­sul­tancy firm Eco-age],” Jerome en­thuses. “She was in­ter­view­ing two de­sign­ers from our In­no­va­tors pro­gram, which Natalie launched more than a year ago.there was this con­ver­sa­tion with cus­tomers and stu­dents which went right back to the orig­i­nal aim of the house: that it should be a very in­clu­sive space.”

If Jerome is proud fa­ther to the broad­cast­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties of Match­es­fash­ion.com’s lat­est ven­ture, then King­ham is proud mother to its In­no­va­tors pro­gram: a sea­sonal col­lec­tive of four to five de­sign­ers whose sin­gu­lar vi­sions have in­spired her. “I felt we needed to work with all th­ese amaz­ingly creative peo­ple who I was see­ing for us to be true to our­selves as a cred­i­ble fash­ion brand,” she says of the show­case, which this sea­son in­cludes Peter­son­stoop, Ingy Stock­holm, Noki and Ger­manier. “It’s the only time I re­ally go ‘off-piste’, but to do so seems rel­e­vant right now.” King­ham an­tic­i­pates a warm re­cep­tion from Aus­tralians, whom she cred­its with “a real ap­petite for choice”.

“Yes! Aus­tralians are very quick to take up dig­i­tal in­no­va­tions and to en­gage with so­cial me­dia ac­tiv­ity,” Christie agrees, nod­ding vig­or­ously.“they’ll be able to book a per­sonal shop­ping ap­point­ment for 5 Car­los Place on­line if they’re trav­el­ling to Lon­don.they’re an im­por­tant part of our fam­ily here at Match­es­fash­ion.com.” Fam­ily. Com­mu­nity. Home. Th­ese words crop up time and again in con­ver­sa­tion around 5 Car­los Place.“ev­ery­body is look­ing for com­mu­nity and home be­cause I think ev­ery­body’s feel­ing a bit lost with the world,” Christie of­fers.

“The de­sire for ‘home’ says ev­ery­thing about life to­day,” Jerome adds. “Here, we are break­ing that too-ex­clu­sive code around our in­dus­try so we can be more in­clu­sive.there’s so much to learn and so much cre­ativ­ity out there. We want ev­ery­body in the world to par­tic­i­pate in this con­ver­sa­tion. It’s fun,

Clock­wise from this im­age: a Pri­vate Shop­ping suite at 5 Car­los Place; a vend­ing ma­chine in the Match­es­fash­ion.com x Marine Serre in­stal­la­tion; a menswear dis­play; a Pri­vate Shop­ping suite.

Car­los Place, May­fair, with its Queen Anne-style fa­cades. Above: a creative re­tail floor at 5 Car­los Place. Be­low: the Match­es­fash­ion.com x Marine Serre in­stal­la­tion.

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