In a Man’s World

Bespoke - - MR PORTER -

Ini­tially cre­ated as a male ex­ten­sion to the lux­ury womenswear re­tailer, Net-a-porter, Mr Porter has be­come a ti­tan in its own right and in com­mem­o­ra­tion of its fifth year in busi­ness, we were in­vited to Lon­don to take part in the com­pany’s an­niver­sary party and sneak a peak at the changes un­der­foot.

It’s a cold crisp night in Lon­don and though it may not be rain­ing at this instant, the streets still glis­ten with the rem­nants of an ear­lier shower. My des­ti­na­tion is a party in May­fair thrown by Mr Porter to cel­e­brate its fifth birth­day and as I ar­rive at the ad­dress, I’m swiftly ush­ered into what looks like an 18th cen­tury Vic­to­rian house by hand­some men in waist­coats, bow ties, and bowler hats. With my skirt bil­low­ing in the wind I fig­ure that this may be a man’s world but ‘it wouldn’t be noth­ing, noth­ing with­out a woman or a girl’, and I throw them a cheeky smile. The venue is a place called the Sav­ile Club, lo­cated around the cor­ner from Clar­idge’s. On a reg­u­lar day it’s a swanky mem­bers-only es­tab­lish­ment with an ex­panse of rich oak, warm choco­late-brown Chester­fields, dim lights, soft car­pet­ing and a high pro­file list of pa­trons (or Sivil­ians, as they’re col­lo­qui­ally known) in­clud­ing John le Carré, Stephen Fry and Sir Peter Usti­nov among oth­ers. But tonight is no reg­u­lar night. The place has been trans­formed into a maze of rooms de­mar­cated by door­ways in­spired by C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, with tailored jack­ets block­ing pas­sage­ways. At the cen­tre of it all is the club’s ‘Sand­pit’ room where por­traits dom­i­nate walls and killer dance moves gov­ern the dance floor. Off from this is the in­tox­i­cat­ing mar­tini bar, while an al­most lim­it­less sup­ply of cigars, caviar and vodka are to be found on the ter­race gar­den. It’s a suitable lo­ca­tion for the stylish men (and women) who have come out to cel­e­brate with the 116-strong team from this gi­ant e-tailer (now con­sid­ered the on­line fash­ion au­thor­ity for men with dis­tri­bu­tion in 80 per cent of the coun­tries in the world). As you might ex­pect at such a party, the men shine. Sport­ing smart din­ner jack­ets, crisp, tie-less shirts and de­signer jeans or trousers, they ex­em­plify the un­der­stated style that Mr Porter has be­come known for: clas­sic with­out be­ing old school and so­phis­ti­cated with­out be­ing showy or stiff. And even if I’m an out­sider tonight, I can eas­ily see my­self get­ting used to the com­pany of so many hand­somely dressed, well-man­nered men. A par­tic­u­lar per­sonal high­light was be­ing flanked by two of the most im­por­tant mem­bers of Porter’s team – Jeremy Lang­mead and Toby Bate­man (Mr Porter’s Brand & Con­tent Di­rec­tor and Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, re­spec­tively), whom, as it turns out, are both clever racon­teurs. Bate­man, who used to work at House of Fraser, Harvey Ni­chols and then Sel­f­ridges be­fore he joined Mr Porter, ex­plains how in­spir­ing clothes are and takes the com­pany’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with BMW as an ex­am­ple. “When I was think­ing of how to de­sign a car for Mr Porter, the im­age of the navy vel­vet tux I had hang­ing be­hind my desk in the of­fice, with a cream silk shirt and black bow tie sim­ply struck me,” he says of Mr Porter’s limited edi­tion i3 car, which fea­tures a Tuxedo Blue exter­ior with a Cap­paris White pin­stripe run­ning along the shoul­der line, and an in­te­rior of deep brown leather and dark oak wood in a range of tones and grains. It is be­ing sold for 56,000 USD and for this tidy sum you’ll also get a bunch of good­ies from Mr Porter, in­clud­ing a BMW leather holdall bag, a Le­ica C cam­era, a Lock & Co. bowler hat, Cut­ler & Gross sun­glasses, a black-and-white Lon­don Un­der­cover um­brella and a cus­tom-made edi­tion of Phaidon’s city guides. “At Mr Porter we love good-look­ing clothes,” Lang­mead steps in, re­veal­ing that he’s wear­ing Saint Laurent from head to toe tonight. Bate­man, on the other hand is dressed in Kings­man, Mr Porter’s own brand, which they launched with a 63-piece col­lec­tion of Sav­ile Row-style tailored suits (and ac­ces­sories) orig­i­nally made for the film by the same name. “Fash­ion is what a boy wears; style is some­thing a man has. Men re­ally only dis­cover their own style in their 20s but be­come more con­fi­dent about sar­to­rial de­ci­sions later in their 30s. Then there are dif­fer­ent types of men – the suit man, the jeans and jacket man, the chi­nos and sneak­ers man,” Bate­man con­tin­ues, though look­ing around the room, those lines are seem­ingly blur­ring. Both Lang­mead and Bate­man were

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