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Mr. Porter meets Malibu: Men's luxury shopping site celebrates SoCal cool

June 7, 2011 |  3:01 pm

Mr Porter West Coast
Mr. Porter, the men's luxury shopping site from the Net-a-Porter.com folks, is celebrating "the covetable coolness" of Southern California this week, serving up familiar backdrops -- from the surf of Zuma Beach to the halls of the Beverly Hills Hotel -- alongside Los Angeles-appropriate wardrobe suggestions. 

I'm glad they're giving the L.A. area some style props -- and it's more than just being happy the hometown is getting recognition for more than the premium denim business that's centered here.

I've actually been meaning to post something about Mr. Porter since the site launched in February, but until recently I hadn't had a chance to really explore the site -- get in and kick the tires, check out the wares they're offering and read some of the editorial content -- and there's lots and lots of that. 

In fact there's so much editorial "how to" goodness -- style advice (forgo the winged-collar tuxedo shirt), guidance (an illustrated seven-step guide to folding a T-shirt) and suggestions (what to pack for a one-week beach holiday) -- the content/commerce blend makes it feel more like a traditional men's magazines -- think GQ or Esquire -- than the increasingly common e-commerce sites that do little more

than slap a few vapid sentences around a photo almost as an afterthought. 

The notion of value-added editorial content is enforced by the recurring editorial features, which include "My Space," a section that explores the ateliers, studios and work rooms of men around the world (the West Coast issue features artist Tim Biskup and graphic, interior and architectural designer Roman Alonso among others), "The Knack," which offers essential how-to tips (this week: how to bowl a strike), "Five Ways to Wear" (different ways to work a wardrobe staple), and "Behind the Brand," an in-depth look at a particular label -- which for the current edition trains its lens on the Oliver Peoples eyewear label.

There's plenty of surf- and sun-appropriate merchandise in the mix too -- straw hats (by Locke & Co. Hatters, Alfred Dunhill and PS by Paul Smith), swimwear (from the likes of Orlebar Brown, Vilebrequin and Sundek), and an assortment of polo shirts (Polo Ralph Lauren), cotton/linen trousers (Viktor & Rolf) seersucker blazers (Brooks Brothers) and loafers (John Lobb) -- put together in a way that's stylish and actually feels achievable by the average guy.

There's a good  reason for the men's-mag feel -- namely the site's editor-in-chief, Jeremy Langmead, who served as the editor of the UK edition of men's style mag Esquire for 3 1/2 years before heading to Mr. Porter. (He can be seen gallivanting -- alongside Mr. Porter's buying director Toby Bateman --through the showrooms, parties and catwalk presentations during the men's runway shows in Milan and Paris, ensuring that the tightly curated, exclusive-packed and extremely high-end Rage_porter2 assortment from the likes of Rick Owens, Burberry, Gucci, Lanvin and Paul Smith are on-trend and up-to-date.)

The look and feel of the site is also appealing to designers and brands sensitive to where and how their wares are displayed. At an April dinner at the Chateau Marmont (hosted by Mr. Porter), menswear designer Simon Spurr told me as much. "It's got a sort of British feel to it," he said, "which fits in nicely with my line. It's exactly what I'd want if I were thinking about what kind of store to sell [my label] in."

And, though Mr. Porter is still just 4 months (and just 16 issues) old, it's apparently poised to grow -- its stable of 80 menswear brands is expected to jump closer to 150 by fall, and  "coming soon" placeholders at the site include  luxury brands like Brioni, Canali, Loro Piana and Jimmy Choo, none of which have a very robust e-commerce presence beyond department store websites.

Thanks to the delivery and customer service infrastructure honed by 10-year-old big sister Net-a-Porter, Manhattan and London orders can be delivered same day, and to anywhere else in the world within 48 hours -- and returned free-of-charge, no-questions asked. And even though men are loathe to ask questions, if you have one, the site offers a style advisor -- by phone or email -- 24/7.

Which makes the whole experience feel like you've been counseled by someone who combines the best of a style-savvy older brother, a world- and wardobe-wise uncle, and a personal valet with an impeccable attention to detail. "Mr. Porter, fetch me my surfboard, a mojito and an Alfred Dunhill roll-up Panama hat, I'm headed to the beach!" 

Now that's living luxe.

-- Adam Tschorn

Photos: At top, the introduction page to Mr. Porter's West Coast issue, shot at Zuma Beach in Malibu. At bottom, a model wears an Acne shirt, a Lanvin blazer, Yves Saint Laurent trousers, Gucci loafers and a Turnbull & Asser pocket square in a photo shoot at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Credit: Mr. Porter.com.

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