GC Lifestyle Editor Aysha Majid sits down with MrPorter.com buying director Toby Bateman to discuss personal style, must have items and the secrets of success for the ‘essential’ male website.
Since its launch in February 2011, Mr Porter has established itself as the premier go-to global e-tail destination for men. Epitomising luxe living, it not only offers a world-class mix of designers (from well-established labels like Marni and Valentino, to newcomers Maison Kitsuné and Thom Browne) but also an online magazine, The Journal and a personal shopping team. Benefiting from the global infrastructure of the Net-A-Porter Group— which includes award-winning sister site Net-A-Porter.com and TheOutnet.com— Mr Porter was immediately able to ship to 170 countries from day one, with impressive same-day delivery in London and Manhattan.
Bateman—with some 15 years experience at the likes of Selfridges and Harvey Nichols— is clearly grateful for the plain sailing foot up onto the e-tail ladder. This allowed Mr Porter to almost imminently establish itself, quicker than its big sister, “but again this is thanks to the hard work across the group” Bateman says humbly.
The site is many things rolled into one; a dapper little e-package accessible to all, from the fashion-phobic chancer, to busy high-flying execs and style-savvy boys about town. When asked what brands define Mr Porter, Bateman explains, “We’re really the mix that resonates to any man, classic or fashionable, of any age, that wants to or needs to know about style.” Querying what the site would not be the same without, he says adamantly without taking a breath, “Our award winning editorial content.” A nod to good friend and editor Jeremy Langmead, or an informed fact, either way it is at the very least an added string, if not crucial ammo having the former Esquire UK editor as part of the team. Allowing this luxury online retail hub a flex of its well-groomed muscles.
Recalling this year’s favourite autumn/winter shows Bateman explains, “I really enjoyed Alexander McQueen in London, Dolce & Gabbana in Milan and Saint Laurent in Paris.” Not distinguishably reflective, his must-have items for 2013 are quite plainly, “A deconstructed lightweight blazer, a pair of Gucci loafers— as it is their 60th anniversary— and a bomber jacket in any fabrication.”
With around 170 brands, defining the most luxurious could be difficult, but Bateman responds, “In terms of specifics both Loro Piana and The Elder Statesmen work with the finest cashmere but with a different approach— Loro Piana create classic products which are timeless, whilst The Elder Statesmen approach their knitwear with a more laid-back feel as befits being based in LA.”
Touching on brand exclusivity the dapper director explains, “We’ve worked with a number of brands to ensure that we can offer our customers products that they can get nowhere else globally. Late last year we collaborated with ACNE on an exclusive collection based around the tuxedo.”
Questioned about future ventures he divulges, “Coming up in 2013 we have exclusive collections from AMI, Raf Simons, Alexander Wang, Grenson with Foot the Coacher and Beams Plus. We also have a tab on site specifically for all exclusive products, as we will always try to ensure that where possible we can get exclusive pieces as part of our buy.”
Discussing 2013’s most exciting, up-and-coming designers and who he thinks readers should watch out for, Bateman excitedly peaks (like a Trekkie asked to relay his favourite Star Wars movie). “We have always championed new designers and will continue to do so. We’ve stocked French label AMI since it launched in 2011 and I also love O’Keeffe’s handcrafted shoes. As a buyer you are always on the lookout for a label that has something new to say and one that you think your customers will enjoy discovering.”
Bateman relies on a simple Kitsune button-down Oxford shirt, Jean Shop jeans and John Lobb ‘Lopez’ loafers to complete his classic style. “Because my days are so varied in terms of dressing requirements, I tend to wear smart jeans, a bench made shoe and a shirt and blazer of some sort.” Summing up his essential item he lovingly recalls, “My favourite product is a slim fit Jean Shop jean— I buy and wear/wash, buy another wear/wash— it’s a cycle for me and they are definitely my go to jean.” It is evident that Bateman is most comfortable in a pair of jeans. Although the carefully combed side parting and smart demeanour from the waste upwards exude a ‘means business’ exterior, the lived in denim and comfortable loafers as well as the relaxed off interview demeanour, unearth a casual and candid personality— that often surfaces in a breath of fresh air and then retreats, like a tortoise afraid to divulge more.
When asked what the site would not be the same without, he says adamantly without taking a breath, “Our award winning editorial content.”