Natural Selection: The Male Species On Shopping Site Mr. Porter
Ladies have been lusting after the well-curated selection of designer duds at Net-a-Porter.com for years now. Their chic Web site, au courant labels and stellar shipping have become something of an e-tail legend. So when the creators launched Mr. Porter, the male counterpart to the ladies supersite, Fashion Trends Daily and fashionable men the world over all 20 of them were excited for the unveiling. Mr. Porters still getting his sartorial sea legs, so to speak, but initial reviews have been mixed (some bordering on downright nasty). So we thought wed do some recon of our own.
Since the male species is a completely different animal when it comes to shopping theyre more of the surgical strike kind of shopper we surveyed three unique types of bipedal male primates for their take on the site: H. victimus (a die-hard fashion follower); H. observicus (a fashion observer) and H. phobicus (an utter fashionphobe). These unique species gave us the scoop on Mr. Porter, from what theyd choose, traits they would keep and others that need to evolve and their take on the potential for Mr. Porters ultimate survival.
*Note: Home page fashion features and content on Mr. Porter update frequently, and may have changed since our men first reviewed the site.
Our Shoppers Natural Habitats:
H. victimus (the fashion victim): J.Crew, Neiman Marcus, John Varvatos, Steven Alan. Shopping style includes
talking to associates and trying on suggestions, marking magazines and obsessing over specific pieces.
H. observicus (fashion observer): None. He prefers online shopping to avoid taxes (men are resourceful creatures), but hes loyal to labels in lieu of stores. Mouse clicks instead of credit card swipes for the savvy shopper.
H. phobicus (fashionphobe): Club Monaco and Banana Republic with a wham, bam, attitude.
On Mr. Porters Landscape:
H. victimus: Hes well put together. The site is clean and easy to navigate, but initially there weren’t many clothes on the homepage. It’s getting more populated now and looking much more shoppable.
H. observicus: Hes got a great circle of friends. Any site featuring John Slattery gets my endorsement.
H. phobicus: Mr. Porter is an international man of mystery. The glaring omission, for me, was a coherent, easily accessible statement about what Mr. Porter is, and what it stands for.
Hunting and Gathering For Fashion:
H. observicus: Favorite picks were shoes and cufflinks. It’s hard to argue with the products. They’re all pretty manly
H. phobicus: Favorite pick was a pic of Erin Wasson (on the site at the time of this review) and her come-hither bedroom eyes and lithe form. I don’t look to others for advice on picks. Nor for how to order a drink without being an asshole. [Note: “The Knack” category on the journal offers men advice on various skills Mr. Porter thinks they should have, from ordering a drink to making a traditional English tea.]
On Natural Selection and Intelligent Content:
H. victimus: The sites editorial features are just watered down GQ and Esquire Manual entries. Its a complete pass.
H. observicus: I like the fact that editorial takes the lead, and the writing is decent [though a bit on the thin side].
H. phobicus: I actually can’t find those content items. Maybe they’re doing multivariant content testing?
Surivival and Evolution of Mr. Porter
H. victimus: Unless theres something I cant find in stores or on the sites I normally order from, I wont be coming back.
H. observicus: If the shoe fits.
H. phobicus: I wouldn’t, I’m afraid, as I don’t spend that kind of money on clothes.
FTD assessment: In short, we dig it. But we wonder if will be a bigger hit with ladies hoping to find great pieces for their guys. The jury is still out on this one. The site emphasizes a breadth of wonderful labels, but guys tend to stay near their natural shopping habitats. The good news is that since many men hate to be bothered to shop, armchair luxury shopping might be just what they need. (Although, they could use someone next to them explaining the prices and educating on cost/wear.) Visually, we love the clean, manly appeal of the site and the wink and nod to a more polished species of man. We applaud all efforts to save this sort from distinction. And he’s just the type who will love that there is a shopping category just for umbrellas!
We are smitten with “The Journal,” the weekly e-zine with a mix of informative, cheeky and sartorially suited content, but we agree with our H. phobicus species that we’d love to see the site more clearly define itself. Clearly, a lot of resources have been put into content, but we think it could use a little culling. We definitely see some tweaking in its future if this new Web creature is to prosper in a busy online space, but we’ve been watching its evolution and are rooting for it to succeed. It’s definitely survival of the fittest out there!