Interview: Bloginity Exclusive with Jeremy Langmead, Mr Porter Himself.
Since its initial launch back in 1998, NET-A-PORTER.COM has allowed women the world over to break through the velvet rope veneer of high fashion by making some of the world’s top ready-to-wear brands accessible and easily streamlined right into their wardrobes, without the intimidating feat of walking into Bergdorf Goodman looking like a deer caught in the headlights. Way ahead of its time, the conceit tied up ends that, back then, seemed insurmountable. These days, it’s not uncommon that somewhere in Lincoln, Nebraska lives an Isabel Marant embellished lace mini dress – maybe even an embroidered and sequined tulle Rodarte skirt. Crazier things have happened.
It took a little over a decade, but the gents finally had their collective prayers answered last June 2010 with NET-A-PORTER’s sister (well – brother, really) site – MR.PORTER. With the idea set in place, the next step was inevitable, for who really could be better to take the creative editorial helm of what promises to be the gentleman with a disposable income’s online sartorial life blood than the man who helped shape Esquire UK into the fashion force it is today – Jeremy Langmead? A worldly visionary and veritable fashion authority (his modesty could never admit to it), Langmead has quickly taken the name MR.PORTER from a mere expansion gamble into a bonafide e-commerce behemoth to be reckoned with in a little over a year. And from what I’ve learned from interviewing the jovial, dapper Briton – it seems to be that we haven’t seen nothing yet.
Alexander: When Natalie Massenet (Founder and Chairman of NET-A-PORTER.COM) hired you to be Editor in Chief of her yet to be realized counterpoint site, what ideas were already set in place about what MR.PORTER was to become and what personal touches did you implement into the identity of this hot e-commerce site?
Jeremy: There was already the concept in place, and a beautiful design template, conceived by the Saturday creative agency. What myself and the rest of the team had to bring in was the content, the voice, the ideas and imagery that work as a way to entertain, inform and inspire visitors to shop on the site
Alexander: MR PORTER features many classic go-to brands like Burberry Prorsum, Gucci and so on, but it also houses some obscure treasure brands. Where do you and your team look in order to find that exciting men’s line that the staple MR PORTER consumer will love, but might not be acquainted with yet?
Jeremy: Yes, we very much wanted to offer a unique mix so that MR PORTER offers the leading high fashion brands, such as Givenchy or McQueen, but then also traditional luxury brands like Brioni and Loro Piana; more edgy, niche labels like Elder Statesmen and Ami and beautiful little brands that specialize in high-quality, small-quantity crafted products – like Swaine Adeney Brigg and Cherchbi. It’s ideal if the customer can see brands he can identify and feel comfortable with, and discover new ones that he hasn’t seen elsewhere.
Alexander: You’ve previously worked at Wallpaper magazine and Esquire UK. What are the major changes from editing a monthly publication and tackling a men’s e-commerce site as an Editor in Chief right from the site’s infancy? Essentially, what does Editor in Chief entail on an e-commerce site as opposed to at a monthly publication?
Jeremy: It’s a 24/7 operation and truly multi-platform. With a business such as this, you have a dialogue with your reader/customer on so many levels: the content that sits constantly on the site, the weekly ‘The Journal’, the three emails we produce each week, the marketing initiatives, as well as all the social media platforms. The deadline is always now, never next week, as we are constantly producing content, so that it all feels very different from a monthly magazine. I love the fact that with a business, not only do you have a conversation with your reader, but you can see whether you’ve connected with them very quickly. You know what they’ve read, and subsequently what they’ve bought. It’s very rewarding.
Alexander: You’re a big art collector. Are there any recent purchases that have directly influenced anything on the MR PORTER site?
Jeremy: I do collect art, but I don’t think it has had a direct influence on the site. We do feature artists quite often – usually modeling clothes and talking about their work. And we do champion illustration as much as possible.
Alexander: On the men’s runways we’ve recently seen Lurex sweaters at Prada and embellished skirts at Givenchy, emblazoned with bird of paradise prints. It seems like menswear is getting more adventurous. Who is the man that is buying this? Would you wear it?
Jeremy: Menswear is definitely getting more adventurous – but at both ends of the scale. Those who like classic dressing are doing so with great care, expertise and flourish, and those who prefer a more street or hipster approach are really going for it, too. I think looking at the way men dress – at both ends of the spectrum – has become very exciting. We are enjoying dressing up again. Personally, I wouldn’t wear an embellished skirt – but love the fact that some men do. I do, however, have some harem pants in my wardrobe that I wear.
Alexander: Has your fashion judgment ever betrayed you?
Jeremy: Occasionally, yes. Some might argue the harem pants answers that question. But as you grow older, and more confident, you get to know what works best for you. However, I do like to play with some trends and occasionally push the boundary a little. I’ve always found a little mischief goes a long way.
Alexander: What are the main differences between how women shop on NET-A-PORTER and how men are shopping at MR PORTER?
Jeremy: Men, on the whole, are initially more cautious buyers, and will ask more questions. Women tend to shop more on impulse or because it’s “in fashion”. Once a man likes your website, or brand, he’s very loyal.
Alexander: How do you get from being a writer and editor to being a veritable fashion authority?
Jeremy: Me? I’m not sure I am. But I got to wherever I am today with luck, hard work, an inquisitive nature and a hunch about what might happen next, as well as an interest in what happened before. I also work hard on presenting a story – in both words and visuals – in as entertaining and alluring a way as possible.
Alexander: Are you already prepping your sons to be above par dapper gents like yourself? Is it important to inbed style at a young age?
Jeremy: My eldest son is very into fashion, probably inadvertently encouraged by me, or my profession. And my youngest is very into image, but doesn’t like to be led by trends. They used to nick my clothes all the time but they’re now both 6’2” tall and so my clothes don’t fit them anymore.
Alexander: Style icon from past or present?
Jeremy: Halston and Haile Selassie, for sure.
Alexander: What kind of regimen do you keep during Fashion Week?
Jeremy: A chaotic one: definitely burning the candle at both ends. Solpadeine, Berocca and coconut water keep me going.
Alexander: What is your office like? Are there keepsakes around to keep you fashionably and intellectually invigorated while at work?
Jeremy: We have beautiful, clean monochrome offices; they look like the lair of a baddie from a Bond film. I am not big on keepsakes as I’m quite unsentimental. My favorite area is the MR PORTER library where I keep some of my favorite style books.
Alexander: What is MR PORTER doing to embrace iPad app technology? With new technology coming out every day, does it wear on you to keep up with it or does it keep your job more interesting?
Jeremy: The website is tablet-friendly, so we work across mobile devices as we are. However, we have lots of plans for new ideas and technology in the cards.
Alexander: What are your go-to clothes when you choose to “dress down”? Do you believe in such a thing?
Jeremy: Yes, Acne sweatpants and ruby tops on the weekend. Corduroys and SNS Herning sweaters are my weekend failsafe.
Alexander: If you could choose to do your job from anywhere in the world, where would you choose to work from?
Jeremy: Obvious, I know, but truly this one. But ideally in at least three different countries at the same time.
Alexander: What are 5 essential men’s apparel and accessories for this upcoming fall season?
Jeremy: We have dedicated an entire section to the fall essentials – click here.
Alexander: Fill in the blank: ( ) and fashion do not mix.