I’ll be honest, I was nervous to meet Sam Kershaw, the London-based buying manager of MR PORTER. I assumed someone who curates luxury men’s fashion for a living would sniff my fast- fashion outfit out from a mile away and wonder who let this fresh-out-of college reporter into a Ritz-Carlton suite.
But Kershaw was warm and welcoming. He didn’t show up in a designer suit like I had anticipated. He was wearing a denim jacket and joggers (although they still looked unmistakably expensive and intentional). By the end of our interview, I gathered that he was not only sweet and relaxed, but I detected a bit of Southern charm from the Englishman.
Kershaw was in town to celebrate the recent opening of Yoox Net-A-Porter’s personal shopping hub in Dallas. At the company’s style suite for our city’s top customers, lined with exclusive capsules from Tom Ford and Sid Mashburn, I sat down with Kershaw to discuss the brand’s plans for Dallas and what’s in store for men’s fashion this fall.
So what brings you to Dallas?
We’re here because we have a good business in Texas. So, the team has been here several times. But it’s the first time we’ve ever done anything more directly customer facing.
You walked around Dallas to get a feel of fashion in the city, what’d you see?
I think it’s really apparent that in Dallas, there’s a really high taste level. Not to dismiss other places, but part of the reason I went back for a run this morning was to observe the houses because they’re all very different. You never get that in England. Then if you contrast that with cities like LA, there’s lots of different architecture, but it doesn’t necessarily work together. The homes here work together tastefully. And I think that’s very reflective of your style and the people here.
Also, this is just my observation, but I’d say the difference I noticed between Austin and here is Austin was a lot more casual. But also, Dallas wasn’t as formal as I thought it would be. It was very effortless.
Tell me more about Mr. P, the brand owned label.
Well, we always hoped that it would be successful, but we didn’t anticipate how it important it would be. [Mr. P] is an access point to the brand, but it’s also essentials that every man needs to build a wardrobe.
What fall trends are you focusing on this season?
Corduroy was a big trend for us. For a number of years, there’s been a real focus on sportswear, so I think, for us, the most important trend for fall was a return to tailoring.
What style recommendations do you have for Dallas’ more pseudo-fall, where you can never predict the weather?
I recommend Japanese nylon. It’s waterproof but it’s breathable. I’d also wear things like Arc’teryx Veilance, they specialize in a lot of layering products that you can wear in good weather or bad weather. My other default is James Perse, It’s still luxury, but it’s light and easy to wear.
This is the last season of the decade. Do you think this Fall is about embracing a lot of the trends that happened over the last 10 year, like an emphasis on athleisure, or is it more about looking ahead into the 2020s?
I think a lot of those things are still relevant. Sneakers are still massive. That’s not going away. But, there was always this tendency for brands to look back at what they’ve done previously. And actually, most of the brands I speak to these days are focused on what’s next and what they will stand for in 10 years. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next 10 years, because there is a real sort of a shift away from nostalgia.
In March, The Journal, the brand’s weekly magazine, spotlighted seven stylish men in Dallas. Are people really watching Dallas men’s fashion from overseas? Were you as surprised by our fashion as the writer of the article was?
Yeah, I think so! I think people find it interesting. I certainly find it interesting, and not just because it’s my job. As I said before, I think [Dallas style] feels quite natural. It’s probably a practical thing given how hot it is, but people are not chasing a fashion aesthetic. They’re wearing what’s comfortable, but it’s still very stylish and quite elegant.