Launched in 2012, Craig Green and his award winning designer’s collections pay homage to classic utilitarian and military clothing. For the launch of the renowned British brand Craig Green on MR PORTER, I sat down with Adam Welch (Editor of the MR PORTER DAILY) and Daniel Todd (MR PORTER BUYER) to talk about fashion, must-have pieces and of course Craig Green.
INTERVIEWER: An online retail destination, which stocks around 400 designer brands, MR PORTER also publishes THE JOURNAL, the MR PORTER PRINT, and lately THE DAILY. Why those three types of magazines, actually?
ADAM: Well, I think, obviously it’s sort of organically grown from the beginning, when we started off with THE JOURNAL, that was the proposition when we launched in 2011, it was e-commerce and editorial, and the journal’s what we launched with. And I think since then, you know, just seeing the appetite that people have for all our content and the way our audience reacts to it, it made a lot of sense to just kind of gradually do more and more. And certainly with THE DAILY, what we were thinking when we launched, was kind of tapping into those other moments throughout the day. We had, you know, a sort of an engagement with the reader on a weekly basis; we didn’t necessarily have something that he could read while he was on his commute, or you know, waiting for the bus, or you know, capturing those little kind of five minutes in between.
ADAM: So really launching THE DAILY was about following the guy throughout the day, and giving him something new and interesting and newness to read all the time. And then we kept them separate, because we really wanted to keep that prestige product with THE JOURNAL. You know I think the brand is quite rightly recognised for the quality of the editorial we do. And certainly we are quite unique within e-commerce for that. So we wanted to like kind of protect that and make sure the readers were still getting what they already enjoyed. But no, it’s been a great success, THE DAILY, and it’s one of those things that you know; the more content we have the capacity to produce, the more people seem to like it, and the more kind of great feedback we get.
DANIEL: And I think THE DAILY, the feedback from brands, what they like is that we can be more reactionary to things with THE DAILY, like we can do sort of more bitesize stories and it doesn’t always have to be this big kind of shoot. If we want to just do a story on the three best stripped t shirts, we can just do it. And I think before it was a very much, like, you know, it had to be a longer format.
ADAM: The final thing is that it was about social media optimization, and seeing more how people are consuming stuff and creating stories that are going to travel a little bit further. And I think given our customer base is so wide, and the kind of age range of people that now shop at MR PORTER, it’s important to address, like, all of those different types of people.
INTERVIEWER: As we can see MR PORTER is way more than just an online retailer. But you guys are also experts when it comes to fashion and style, and you give the audience an opinion. So give us an overall vibe of Spring/Summer ‘17 – what we can expect in terms of trends and themes for the season.
DANIEL: I think trends wise, there are a few continuations. 70s has been around for a long time, it continues to be around. There was a bit of 50s vibe – we saw a lot of tropical print. I think you know, that camp collared shirt shape had been around for a few seasons now, but this season was less kind of floral and more sort of tropical. And then I think there’s a lot of stuff that was like traveller trend, think about Prada with the backpacks and the sandals, like real technical; it was actually one of my favourite shows. There was a lot of colour around, I think pink was a big colour, you know we sell a lot of pink, it seems to be having a real moment in menswear at the moment – right the way from kind of Stone Island through to some of the more classic brands that we stock. And then what else was there?
ADAM: I mean, it’s quite a funny season because it’s sort of going in two opposite directions at once. One with the nostalgia, with the pastels and the 50s and the camp colour and that kind of like early days of sportswear things; and then the other direction is this super technical – and yeah, as Daniel said the Prada show was the kind of apex of that. Lightweight, technical jackets, like really quite sort of quite lurid bright prints.
DANIEL: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And there were lots of sort of retro jacket shapes. You think about like collared harringtons, and kind of you know, bomber jackets: and it definitely had that sort of you know, like, retro vibe to it, I think. But yeah it was a bit of a juxtaposition with this real sort of super technical element that was coming through.
INTERVIEWER: So you guys probably have been to several shows and presentations. What were your favorite collections, shows and presentations?
DANIEL: Prada was definitely my favorite, I thought it was really really good. The Prada show I think always kind of sets the tone for the season, even when we look to what we saw in autumn, actually, you know, for the kind of trends that came out of that season. With the corduroy and browns and things, you know again that really sort of set the tone for that season. But I think – I don’t know, I wasn’t really expecting the Prada show when it came out, and I thought it was really really good; because it talked to the sort of stuff I want to wear, and I thought the colour palate was really good, I thought the styling was incredible, it was just a really strong Prada show. And I think that, you know, menswear needs Prada to be good – you know, because it’s such a big menswear brand, and it was just such a great show. The Visvim show at Pitti was very good, first time they’ve ever done a show, from what I hear the only time – think it was quite a lot of work for them. But that was an amazing production. Dries was good – when we talk about trends, I think you know, we reference Dries a lot; lot of short sleeve shirts, lots of tapestry prints, lots of kind of takes on camo – that was a good show for us. What else did we like? Balenciaga was interesting, you know, Demna’s first show – I think I preferred the one for fall/winter, but I think the one for spring was kind of interesting, showing this new silhouette –
ADAM – It was a real line in the sand, and it was quite sort of shocking, well, in a way that made you take notice.
DANIEL: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, Balenciaga has been through a few changes of creative direction, and this was very much sort of you know his defining first show. But yeah no I think they were the key shows for me.
ADAM: I think what was amazing really about the Balenciaga one in particular is you know, there’s always that sort of like….you’re wondering how far everything’s going to translate from the show to the product – and you went into the Balenciaga showroom and you were like ok so what are you going to do with this. And they were like oh this is it, this is coming to the stores. And then you know we have this like coat with massive square shoulders, adding on MR PORTER, and its great and people are buying it and wearing it. So its kid of one of these kind of like rare occasions when like a runway trend makes it directly into product and gets picked up. And, then when you look at all the other brands for autumn/winter, you see shoulders across the board! It’s crazy, it’s been very kind of influential.
INTERVIEWER: So what labels and designers should we be looking out for?
DANIEL: We are doing a project in California, actually- I don’t know if you know about that?
INTERVIEWER: I heard it, yeah of course.
DANIEL: So the products are live since 18th of April, and one of the new brands that we’ve brought on as part of that is a brand called Amiri, which is an LA-based brand, like really really rock and roll, really cool. Its kind of that sort of Saint Laurent customer – amazing destroyed denim, really cool flannel shirts, really nice like reversible trucker jackets – high price point, you know, the trucker jacket is like £2000. But Justin Bieber was photographed in it, so I’m sure that’s gonna help. And I think that’s going to be good for us and in probably you know, four or five years we’ll be talking about Amiri as you know a really big brand on MR PORTER.
INTERVIEWER: Can’t wait for it. What specific piece is the must-have piece this season?
DANIEL: The must-have piece for me was actually a jacket form the Prada show, which was a blue sort of technical anorak, which I’ve bought and its very bright – and every time I wear it on the tube I feel slightly self-conscious. But, it was one of those things I saw on the runway and I thought I really really want that. And it was like – you see things every season that you think are the defining pieces. And I thought that was good. Balenciaga – stuff like the Paris logo t-shirt has been a phenomenal seller for us – Vetements is an amazing seller for us. The Antwerp hoodie has been incredible. The Instapump Fury they did was kind of a must have piece for everyone. We’ve sold the Gucci logo T – That was another one, you know, when you go into the showroom you’re like – it’s quite obvious, but also so clever. And that’s just been amazing for us, and they’ve continued that for next season. I think that’s been one of the key pieces for this season.
ADAM: I also think, given that we’ve already talked about those tropical print shirts – but like, if you were ever thinking about getting a pineapple print shirt – this is probably the season to do it. You should be convinced by now, it’s been sort of building to a kind of climax of pineapple print shirts.
DANIEL: I imagine at Pitti this season there’ll be a lot of pineapple print. A lot of that Dries collection will be sort of out and about.
INTERVIEWER: So coming to Craig Green, his first catwalk show was ridiculed by the Daily Mail, and now he’s dressing Drake or Rihanna; his collections are shown in Hollywood movies, and he just won the British Menswear Designer award at the Fashion Awards 2016. How is that possible? How did he do it?
ADAM: The thing about the Daily Mail is funny, because it’s actually quite amazing for a young menswear brand to be in a national newspaper at all. So in the end that whole thing was obviously not the press they really wanted but it was great exposure. But it also reflected the fact what was so good about Craig’s shows from the beginning is that they had a real sense of showmanship. And though he was a young designer, he was already like putting out this vision, and there was a sort of like abstract and emotional quality to all of shows. Like that thing with the planks of wood over people’s faces – it was kind of, you just got the sense of this really strong vision. And I think he continued that since then.
DANIEL: And I think you know, if you actually break it down, which is something that we’ll talk about later, its actually just quite wearable. I think the show is the show and it has this great sense of drama, and the show…its very important to London to have someone like Craig Green, who has this sort of following and expectation on a global level really: people are interested in what he’s doing. But when you go through that rail of products, styled together its quite a powerful fashion message, but also broken down its just also quite wearable, and references a lot of kind of classic menswear. So I think you know, obviously the show is the show, but when you actually look at it its quite easy to incorporate into your wardrobe. And I think that’s why he’s been successful. Because there’s stuff in there, if you want to be super fashion with it you can: but if you also just want to sort of wear a classic workwear jacket, which he does very well, then he has that. Yeah.
INTERVIEWER: Yeah. Sounds reasonable. How would you describe Craig Green’s collections and why do you think its fits for MR PORTER and its audience?
DANIEL: I think that, you know, we’ve always been…we’ve now got over 400 brands? And I think we’ve always stayed quite true to the sort of founding principle of no brands really doing the same thing. We try to bring on a brand that has a point of difference and kind of a point of view. And I think, you know, I think Craig fits with MR PORTER because of all the things we’ve talked about. You know, the craftsmanship, the attention to detail, the fabrics he uses. I think being an online business the way he uses colour is very important, because that obviously resonates very well online. And you know, it’s a brand our customers have been asking for, and it’s a brand, I think that as I just said, that lots of different customers can wear I think it has an appeal…there’s probably a guy in his 40s working in sort of a media office that’s wearing this, there’s also the guy who’s buying Vetements and Gucci that’s kind of a you know, younger demographic. So I think that’s the appeal for us really, is that that it transcends quite a few ages. And with the core collection he launched, which is the first collection we’ve bought into, again its just very wearable. And that was a nice way of us introducing it, and then layering on some of the more fashion pieces from the show.
ADAM: I think it works, because it terms of a fairly young, quite adventurous men’s fashion brand, it still has this direct line to heritage and workwear and uniform, all of which are things that we know our customer really engages with. And I think, you know, the difference with Craig is just engaging with it in a really really fresh way. And that’s why it makes a nice addition, alongside the other more workwear brands we have, and also the more designery brands we have. Its sitting really nicely in the middle there.
INTERVIEWER: Last but not least: Your favorite item of the Craig Green collection.
DANIEL: I think my favorite item is the blue jacket, the second one in, which is actually one of the exclusive pieces. So he used this like bright blue in one of his first shows, and we’ve kind of brought it back in these three exclusives. And again it kind of references the trends we saw for Spring 17, which is these kind of brighter colours, but also its just a very easy, classic, workwear jacket shape. The colour makes it more fashion, but actually the jacket is just very wearable, and very kind of easy. And that kind of encapsulates what I like about Craig’s collection really: its very wearable, but then there’s the popping colour makes it more interesting.
ADAM: I like, I mean, similarly… I like the quilted one.
For me that’s sort of the classic recognisable Craig Green piece. And the real, like….i don’t know…that’s got the kind of..
DANIEL: Yeah, that’s the signifier, he does that every season.
ADAM: That’s the basis of his thing, is that work jacket, but I really really like the quilting as well. And yeah, nice new collar.
INTERVIEWER: Lovely. Well, thank you guys.
DANIEL: No, thank you.
ADAM: It’s a pleasure.
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