With the Russian World Cup coming, or should that be looming?! We're going to get all nostalgic for Panini stickers and short-short football kits. Retro sportswear shows no sign of slowing down in fashion circles and anything branded, or with brand's old logos, is as popular as ever.
Credits - Loafers - Base London, Jeans - Raey, Top - Vintage
When wholesaling multiple brands you’re as strong as the market. You can’t sell what isn’t available. Obvs. Often there is a demand from your customers with nobody fulfilling the supply.
I’ve spoken to buyers at large designer websites, in the past, who have said that many brands have forgotten about the basics and instead only offer key, statement pieces of the season. Tiger, anybody?!
Left - RAEY - AW17
They’ve picked up lesser known brands to fill these gaps - sometimes a guy just wants a plain white shirt without a snake on it - but, ultimately, they know what they need and often the only way to find it is to create your own “house” label.
Matchesfashion.com launched “Raey” a few years ago and, Mr Porter is launching a “Mr P” own label, today. Own labels used to be looked down upon as the lower/entry end of the retailer’s offering, but, now, they are offering something you can’t get from the other brands or give the retailers some consistency and reliability, whether that be black trousers, simple grey v-necks, or something more directional like Sta-press denim.
There’s obviously a demand. Since its inception, in 2015, Raey, matchesfashion.com's in-house brand, has seen 85% growth year-on-year with strong growth across knits and jersey, in particular. A standalone store opened in April 2017 in Notting Hill, in a former franchise store owned by matchesfashion.com.
According to the blurb, the creation of MR PORTER’s “MR P.” brand has been informed by seven years' of customer insight - more than 600,000 shoppers to date - and the invaluable feedback and shopping patterns they’ve observed since launching in February 2011.
The MR P. launch collection has 53 items across ready-to-wear, including 24 “Essential" styles, available year-round, and 29 seasonal styles within the debut capsule. The majority of the collection is made in Italy, with select items made in Portugal, and the denim in Japan. Pricing ranges from £55 for the core T-shirts, through to £875 for the capsule’s leather aviator jacket.
Right - MR P. - the new own label by MRPORTER
The chosen muse for this launch capsule is 20th-century British painter and portraitist Lucian Freud, during his prime in 1950s London.
“At MR PORTER, we are – first and foremost – product people. This passion for quality, uniqueness, style and versatility has been the backbone to developing our business for the past seven years. The launch of MR P. has therefore been quite organic for us; we felt there was a space in our mix of 400-plus brands for something that could present a unique take on wardrobe classics and also present regular capsules of more trend- and seasonal-driven pieces throughout the year. We like to think we have an unparalleled view of the male wardrobe, garnering the combined knowledge of our buyers and editors, and MR P. is ultimately the result of that: smart details, easy pieces and enduring style.” says Toby Bateman, Managing Director, MR PORTER.
The second limited-edition MR P. capsule will launch in February, followed by a third in April. MR P. will introduce shoes and accessories for AW18.
This is a case of these retailers trying to fill the gaps and offer pieces that are consistently available. As these businesses get bigger and bigger then can afford to offer more and also a point of difference that makes them a destination rather than just another retail site selling the same designers.
It’s also important to note that wholesale is so difficult, now, that many brands are moving away from it or closing altogether. Smaller brands can’t afford to tie all their money up in stock, which they won’t get money from until the end of the season or, could, at worst, be sent back to them. This cashflow problem is what has killed off many small brands and also deters many from the wholesale model.
Plus, many people are happy with affordable basics so look to designers for something different or recognisable which has driven designers to only offer these styles. Matchesfashion.com and MRPORTER are so big now they can offer these own-label collections. What they have to remember is, these “Essentials” are the workhorses of a man’s wardrobe and as such need to be good quality in order to satisfy the customer.
Left - Unbranded "Essentials" mixed with a few capsule pieces is part of the new MR P. ethos
Damien Paul, Head of Menswear, MATCHESFASHION.COM
"This unique and ground-breaking collaboration between Yohji Yamamoto and adidas has now been running for over a decade, and the product continues to resonate well for our customers. My favourite style for this autumn is the 'Qasa' high top trainer – the detail is minimal and subtle and these will work well with a cropped trouser and sweatshirt".
Y3 - Qasa High-Top Trainers - £260 Buy Now
"OAMC stands for Over All Master Cloth and is new to MATCHESFASHION.COM this season. The collection encompasses the sweet spot between contemporary and sportswear influence and is lifted by a refined finish and attention to detail. I like this navy sweatshirt as it is has a slim silhouette which can work well when worn with smarter trousers, and it is elevated with a detachable feather charm".
OAMC - Feather Charm Crew Neck Sweatshirt - £225 Buy Now
"Another new label for us, Malle is London based and began with the intention of creating superior, British made motorcycle luggage. The collection has now evolved and this pannier shoulder bag is absolutely functional, and is very masculine. In oiled canvas with black bridle leather trim I like that the roll-top closure allows you to expand the size of the bag as you require".
"Italian design house Marni often deals in unexpected proportions and off-kilter silhouettes, which I personally love. These trousers are more refined, and whilst they are cropped, they have a classic, straight cut, with a single pleat at the front. In navy wool-twill they are what I call and investment purchase as they will work both on and off-duty, and will add elegance even to low key weekend dressing".
Marni - Single Pleat Wool-Twill Trousers - £505 Buy Now
"Exclusive to MATCHESFASHION.COM Raey has very subtle, cool handwriting – the sort of pieces that slot into any man’s wardrobe and become firm favourites… I like this oversized bomber for autumn as it nods to sportswear but is in Prince of Wales check, one of the most traditional fabrications in English heritage".
Raey - 1970s Zip Through Houndstooth Checked Jacket £495 Buy Now
Damien Paul, Head of Menswear at MATCHESFASHION.COM
"A techy, functional coat is near the top of the list of pieces I'm after for the new season - the best collections all had a utilitarian feeling to them. This nylon parka buy Raey is a favourite, and would look brilliant layered over heavy-duty knitwear."
Left - Raey - Hooded Nylon Parka - £450
"Everyone on the team here is excited about Longjourney, one of the most interesting new brands we've seen. They are based in Los Angeles, where they transform vintage denim and military surplus into new, unique garments. This is a label to watch."
Left - Longjourney - Patchworked Denim Shirt - £535
"The Parisian footwear brand Adieu has branched into sneakers for AW15, and they perfectly capture the minimal, no-nonsense aesthetic of the season. I'll be wearing them with rolled-up denim."
Left - Adieu - Leather Low-Top Trainers - £278
"There's a retro feeling coming back into menswear, and this cardigan has a "70's-by-way-of-the-90's" attitude which feels totally right for now. Though, thankfully, it's rendered in an ultra-soft merino instead of the scratchy fibres of most vintage knitwear…"
Left - Orley - Dexter Chevron Striped Cardigan - £475
"Under the stewardship of J.W. Anderson, Loewe has become one of the most exciting brand revivals around. Their luxurious yet offbeat clothing is covetable enough, but I'm obsessing over the bags - this structural suede backpack is just unsual enough to be irresistible."
Left - Loewe - Anton Suede Backpack - £1795