Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman film franchise is going strong. Merging elements of style and espionage with comedic undertones and of course, Vaughn’s fast-paced action sequences, the Kingsman universe is set to expand with at least three more films and a television series to come. But before we get ahead of ourselves, The King’s Man—a prequel to the previous two films—is scheduled for a February 2021 release.
It’s still quite a ways away, but it doesn’t hurt to get acquainted with the film’s sartorial moments. Style has played quite a role in the franchise since the very beginning. Its very concept is based around a secret British spy agency that’s fronted by a bespoke tailoring business. Colin Firth’s character in the franchise is just as knowledgeable about all manners of gentlemanly style (remember ‘Oxfords, not brogues’?) as he is about taking down enemies.
In an almost meta fashion, Vaughn has been partnering up with Mr Porter to bring to realisation the costumes that add panache to every Kingsman agent. Together with costume designer Michele Clapton, the Kingsman ‘costume-to-collection’ collaboration taps into the expertise of a host of British heritage brands to recreate key style moments in each film. And with each film bringing audiences to new locales and situations, so do each Kingsman collection.
As Mr Porter’s buying director Sam Kershaw expresses in a press release: “With each new film, we have grown the collection in novel and organic ways, partnering with new and existing brands and are thrilled with the result.”
We speak to Kershaw to learn more about Mr Porter’s continued involvement with the project, and how the latest collaboration fits in with the always evolving offering that’s available on Mr Porter.
ESQ: This marks the third Kingsman outing between Matthew Vaughn and Mr Porter. Has the process of turning the movies’ costumes to actual collections been easier? Is there now a formula that the team refers to?
SAM KERSHAW: Working with Matthew and Michele on the latest collection was a great meeting of the minds, and as always, an exciting and collaborative process. Overall, the partnership is synergetic with Matthew bringing his strong vision for the film, characters and narrative, Michele with her wealth of experience in costume design and sartorial storytelling, and Mr Porter’s commercial lens on the men’s luxury retail landscape.
The development process generally kicks off with Matthew and Michele reading the script and exploring each character in depth. Michele then reports back with her wealth of insights into the era, exploring dress codes, looking at original pieces, fabrics etc. and presents her overall concept and design for each character. I then work closely with Michele by offering insight on what could work for retail and the Mr Porter customer. It is a true partnership on every touch point—from costume, to collection, to delivery to sale—and its success derives from the fact that producing the collection is inherent from the start of each film’s production process.
ESQ: Each instalment of the Kingsman films differs slightly in terms of style. What has been one main consideration that comes up for every ‘costume-to-collection’ so far?
SAM KERSHAW: With the launch of the Kingsman label in 2015, we created a very sound core collection that continues to act as the foundation for each collection. From there, we draw inspirations from each film, whether developing modern takes on Western dress with Kingsman: The Golden Circle, or the intersection of military wear and 1910’s three-piece tailoring for The King’s Man. Each film allows us to expand on the best of British-inspired clothing Kingsman is known for, as we continue to create modern luxury men’s wear with traditional sensibilities.
ESQ: Indeed. There was some play with American Western influences for the second instalment, Kingsman: The Golden Circle. How would you describe the ‘costume-to-collection’ series for The King’s Man?
SAM KERSHAW: For The King’s Man, the costumes are set against World War I, and the collection features modern-day interpretations of tailoring and military wear—both relevant trends and recurring tropes in menswear.
Certain items like Conrad’s (Harris Dickinson) three-piece suit, Shola’s (Djimon Honsou) military-inspired Oxford coat or the Duke of Oxford’s (Ralph Fiennes) watch are near replicas from the film and are firmly rooted in early 20th-century style, tweaked ever so slightly for the modern man. As Matthew Vaughn said, “This time period is where the tradition of ‘Manners Maketh Man’ was formed.” It’s that spirit that we aimed to communicate through this collection.
ESQ: What’s the thought process behind selecting which brands to partner with?
SAM KERSHAW: As the clothing and style in each Kingsman film is imperative in telling the narrative of the story, we approach partner brands with the same sense of storytelling and character development that goes into the filmmaking process. We ask ourselves: which brands make sense for the Mr Porter customer and for the storyline of the film.
The halo Kingsman brand champions a ‘best of British’ ethos, and we continue to partner with leading menswear brands that have their own sense of excellence, such as George Cleverley for shoes, Turnbull & Asser for shirting and Drake’s for accessories. These innovative partnerships are what makes Kingsman so special and reinforces the traditional and luxury perception of the brand.
ESQ: It’s great to see that the collection has expanded to include lifestyle offerings as well. Can you share a bit more about how they fit into the Kingsman universe?
SAM KERSHAW: The lifestyle offerings within Kingsman are very intentional and further allow us to expand the Kingsman luxury repertoire. The pieces also serve their own purpose in the films. Umbrellas have served a purpose as weapons-of-choice since Kingsman: The Secret Service, and we are happy to continue to collaborate with London Undercover on the latest season of umbrellas for the collection. We also offer whisky tumblers and glassware by Higgs & Crick, desk accessories from Smythson of Bond Street, and additional premium British brands that resonate with the timeless tradition of Kingsman and a modern gentleman’s life.
ESQ: We do see Mr Porter slightly shifting its range of offerings in the past couple of years to include more streetwear-skewed brands and pieces, as opposed to its sartorial foundation. In terms of customer demographics, do you see an intersection between the two styles or do they attract two distinct types of customers?
SAM KERSHAW: Streetwear and its influence has certainly held its place in menswear—it has both informed designer collections the last few years, and has also allowed us to expand our contemporary offering. That said, Mr Porter has always been rooted in classic and timeless men’s style, and features a luxury offering that is unrivalled the world around. Similarly, in the most recent collections, we’ve seen a return to tailoring and a desire for sophisticated, investment-worthy pieces that are versatile, wearable and long-lasting. The Kingsman collection, since launch, has complimented and sat well within the mix of Mr Porter’s other luxury designers, and it continues to resonate well with our customers who now rely on Kingsman to meet their more formal, modern sartorial needs.
ESQ: What are some of your personal favourites from this latest collection? And how would you wear them with more contemporary pieces?
SAM KERSHAW: My favourite piece of the latest collection is the burnished leather jacket which was inspired by traditional biker styles and is cut with a relaxed fit that will slip on easily over the amazing knitwear in the collection.
My timeless answer: Kingman’s renowned double-breasted suits—which have been updated with a four-button silhouette—are truly some of the best suits on the marketplace. I’d like to introduce the latest Archie Reid double-breasted Prince of Wales style to my wardrobe.
Many of the more casual and contemporary pieces of the collection—like the knitwear and the blazers—will actually pair well with the our own label Mr P., be it with the indigo selvedge jeans or white leather sneakers. The tailoring, however, pairs best with the host of partner brands we’ve brought on to envision the Kingsman label. If you’re in the market for a new suit, I truly encourage you to consider the Kingsman silhouette. And with that, the complementary shirting from Turnbull & Asser, the ties from Drake’s, the shoes from Cleverley etc. As the old saying goes, ‘It takes a village,’ and with Kingsman, it’s a village of some of the most well-established and relevant luxury brands within the menswear universe.
The latest Kingsman ‘costume-to-collection’ is now available on Mr Porter.