As any man who shops from online menswear store Mr Porter will know, it has a well-deserved reputation for stocking pretty much everything for fashion-savvy men, from the latest runway collections to everyday essentials.
Launched in 2011, Mr Porter currently offers more than 400 labels, and has carved out a niche as a one-stop fashion powerhouse, aimed at the man who knows his brands and what suits him, but who lacks the time or inclination to trawl around shops. At the click of a few buttons, Mr Porter aims to provide everything a man needs to keep his wardrobe updated.
Now, in a move that feels entirely logical, the site has expanded – not only does it stock clothes, but it designs them, too. Mr P, the clothing label created by Mr Porter's in-house designers, launched last week, with a core line of 24 essential styles. Mr P has been born from expertise gained from listening to more than 600,000 customers, arming Mr Porter with first-hand knowledge of, for example, the speed at which white T-shirts sell out (almost immediately, apparently). The solution? Mr P has made its own, which will be permanently available all year round, as will highly popular cashmere crew necks.
Buyer feedback has played a big role in Mr P's design aesthetic. Take the brand's crisp white poplin shirt, for example. Perfect for office wear, it is made with a fabric light enough to be comfortable under a suit, but heavy enough to never be see-through. Likewise, shirts are cut to stay put and not come undone. "Customers were telling us that shirts aren't long enough at the back," Katerina Armenakis, from the London team of Mr Porter, says. "Taller guys, or men who are cycling to work, or even just bending over, were complaining the shirt comes untucked. So we made a shirt that is quite a bit longer at the back than a normal shirt."
Elsewhere in the collection, a Breton striped top carries a relaxed neckline, and is cut to fit (although not cling to) the body, while shirts are all double stitched at the cuffs for durability. There are water-resistant blazers made from microfibre, as well as a rugged range of knitted jumpers that veer from plain to vaguely Nordic and outdoorsy. Fifteen-gauge cashmere crew necks are ideal for city life, and come in practical dark colours, meaning that they work well under a suit and with trousers. The mid-wash selvedge denim shirt is made in Japan based on the fact that the Japanese are experts with denim, while the chinos are garment-dyed in Portugal.
“We have tried to just tweak the essentials to give men something that is well thought out. Practicality and know-how is what Mr P is all about,” Armenakis explains. “Every item has been scrupulously thought through to give an intelligent solution. We had been talking about launching our own brand for quite a while, and the wheels were put in motion about 11 months ago. These collections are designed in-house by our team, who go to all the shows, and know so much about the collections and what our customers are buying. Everything is sold as separates, including the suiting, so if you need to replenish only the trousers, you can. And we have gone to the best factories for each piece.”
In addition to the core range, Mr P will also offer five seasonal collections per year. Coming online every two months, each 29-piece collection will have a new slant and will incorporate colours and fabrics that are on-trend that season.
“The first capsule is inspired in particular by Lucian Freud in the 1950s, so you can see the stripes, the oversize double-breasted cord jacket, and the loose but well-cut trousers,” Armenakis says.
Looking through the compact but surprisingly wide range of clothing, I am struck by how intensely wearer-friendly each piece is. Even the most fashion-conscious items are designed with longevity in mind. As Toby Bateman, managing director of Mr Porter, explains: "We like to think we have an unparalleled view of the male wardrobe, garnering the combined knowledge of our buyers and editors. Mr P is ultimately the result of that. Smart details, easy pieces and enduring style."
While the virgin cashmere double-breasted overcoats may not be required to weather the mild winters of the UAE, for any man who likes to travel, this new range may be perfect. Well-cut, well-made and well-priced (T-shirts cost from Dh270), and backed by Mr Porter's excellent shipping and returns policy, it seems there is no longer excuse for every man not to be well-dressed.