Mr Porter Turns 5, Pumps Up Shoe Biz

Tom Ford Suede High-Top Sneakers
Tom Ford suede high-top sneakers from Mr. Porter.
Courtesy of MrPorter.com

Mr. Porter is turning five — and to celebrate the milestone, it will launch a number of major footwear projects.

The luxury men’s e-tailer, a division of the Yoox Net-a-Porter group since 2011, will mark its anniversary on Feb. 18.

“Enhancing our existing product offering is a big focus, specifically our shoe business,” said Sam Lobban, Mr. Porter’s buying manager. “When it comes to footwear, if you look back a few years, the offering was much more narrow. We’ve grown to include over 100 brands, with 21 subcategories of styles.”

Mr. Porter recently added high-end labels like Dries Van Noten and Tom Ford to its lineup, and will release a 20-piece capsule collection in collaboration with some of its current brands. Shoes will include a white leather Common Projects Achilles low-top sneaker — a fitting choice, given the brand is one of its bestsellers — as well as a John Lobb loafer.

Common Projects Achilles Low Top Sneaker Common Projects Achilles low-top sneakers, sold on Mr. Porter. Courtesy of MrPorter.com

Mr. Porter will also release limited-edition sneakers this year, including new brands to the site like Feit, Greats and Hender Scheme.

“We see a huge success coming from these [sneaker] releases,” said Lobban, who counts Givenchy, Balenciaga and Saint Laurent as top sneaker performers. “A great example of this from 2015 was the day the Yeezy Boost 350 sneakers launched. We saw 312,274 dedicated shoppers visit Mr. Porter, and they almost crashed the site!”

Footwear vendors are increasingly drawn to the site’s one-stop-shopping lifestyle focus. “They were the first retailer that launched our apparel,” said Adam Goldston, co-founder of A.P.L. “They wanted to tell a head-to-toe story, which was a first for us. While it’s an online retailer, they give an incredibly personal feel to their consumer.”

APL Windchill mesh sneakers APL Windchill mesh sneakers, sold on Mr. Porter. Courtesy of MrPorter.com

“I remember the first day my shoes went online — they were handmade, stonewashed double monks,” added Maud O’Keeffe, cofounder of her men’s shoe label, O’Keeffe. “I had a call from the buyer saying they sold 11 pairs on the first morning. For an unknown brand at the time, it says something about their reach and buying.”

Lobban said its growing assortment has been the direct result of consumer demands. Mr. Porter had 80 brands at launch and has since grown to its current roster of more than 400 luxury labels (including its own, Kingsman, launched last year). “It started with a general curiosity from the customer, and we’ve seen success from extending into new product categories, building on our offering each season,” said Lobban.

John Lobb Darby II Brogues John Lobb Darby II leather wingtip brogues. Courtesy of MrPorter.com

Now the site ships to customers in 155 countries and carries everything from grooming products to sports gear. It even has plans to offer cars. With a click of a button, customers will soon be able to order a limited-edition BMW i3, which will be on sale in the U.K. later this year. The model will be the first in the retailer’s new automobile category.

The e-tailer’s top markets include the U.S., U.K., Germany, France and Canada, though it has also seen growth in Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

Next, it will focus further on its tech advancements — one in 10 orders is submitted through Mr. Porter’s app — and expanding its global consumer base. “From launch to present, the most
noticeable change has been the shift in how customers make purchases,” said Lobban. “It’s now driven by a strong increase across mobile, tablet and the app.”