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Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Highs And Lows Of Mr Porter - A Customer Review Of The Service And Experience Of The Top Web Retailer For Men

There is a feeling you get when you log onto Mr. Porter. The feeling is always one of 'yes, that's why you're top dog'. It happens the moment they load up on your screen some young dude who has just been elevated by the clear typing of his prefix before his name. If he was John to his friends, to Mr. Porter readers he undertakes a metamorphosis into Mr. John G Citizen....

I don't bother to read the Mr. Porter Journal very much. It's not that I don't like the fact that they are intertwining story with the sale of their clothes, actually I really respect the way they do this,  but I often feel they are not interviewing anyone I particularly want to read about and sometimes I abhor the selection of men they hold up to be 'cool' or more importantly 'in'. What I am on Mr. Porter for is their brands. They are smart enough to have a winning trifecta - content - brands - product. And, when it's 70% off time, they have a 4th dimension - price.

I shopped Mr. Porter last week and I wanted to take a few moments to let you know what I felt of the experience.

The SALE was on so I took advantage of the price reductions and I went for my usual pickings. For the most part I will never order shoes online (because you have to wear them every day so you must be careful not to make a mistake on sizing) and I will rarely order a suit ( I prefer to use the service of a tailor). I tend to purchase smaller less risky items. The ideal ones are standard sized accessories such as scarves and pocket squares. Then the little more risky, t-shirts, jumpers and casual shirts.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the shopping experience of Mr. Porter. In fact, I would say it is the best website in the world for buying menswear. It is thorough, interactive, it offers content that surpasses any other website that I have found. There is nothing wrong with the placement of orders either. This was done very effectively as an email confirmed the order. The money was debited from my credit card and not more than 24 hours later I received a confirmation of my tracking number.

The truth is, the only time I felt a little let down was once the parcel arrived. It came in a standard cardboard box. Once I opened the pack there was tissue paper laid down across the base and then a series of those rather cheapish looking Mr. P bags with drawstrings. The ones that look like they bought 100,000 of them at 2 cents each. It was a far cry from the first time I had used their website and the items were sent in one of the most exquisite boxes of it's time.

I opened each of the bags and pulled out each item. There were Pantherella socks - these were great. Then there were Corgi socks - not so great in quality - then the Anderson belt - looked nothing like it did on the website (ie: not as good). The stand out piece was the Turnbull & Asser pocket square which delivered a better result than the website. It was outstanding. Then I opened the Smedley items and put them on. This was where I came undone.

The problem, as I said in an earlier blog post, is that sizing represents the biggest obstacle to Mr Porter in my opinion. You can publish as many charts as you possibly want on a website, but generally speaking if you are a man , you have an idea of what it is to be Large, Extra Large and Double Extra Large. In my case, I ordered one item in XL (a t-shirt in Sea Island cotton which mostly fit), my usual size, and in another I ordered it in XXL just as a backup in case the first item didn't fit. In fact, when I order any item for Mr. Porter I am already thinking about who might it suit and fit if it doesn't fit me. Which in itself says something about the state of internet shopping. Fit, after all, is one of the biggest driving factors between whether you keep something until it is thread bare or whether you turf it after two wears.

The item I wish to complain about, which in hindsight, had I read more of the website instead of indulging in the greedy side of fast impulsive SALE shopping, is the John Smedley Striped Merino Henley Sweater that I purchased. On the website the first image that you got of the sweater was as follows:

Mr Porter John Smedley Striped Henley Merino Sweater

Having purchased a John Smedley sweater before through Permanent Style's limited edition offer - I felt that given I had an extra large sweater from the same company, then what was the harm in ordering this particular XXL, if anything, the only risk I ran was that is might be roomy.

What I did not check was the second image on the website, which is perhaps the 'tell' in this particular incident. Here is the second image that gives away more about the fit.

The second photo of the John Smedley Striped Henley Merino Sweater

Had I bothered to check this image I would have been able to tell from the waistband that this jumper makes even a man of a V shaped body look like a little girl. This did not become evident to me until I put the jumper on. The moment it went on I realised that with my corpulence and ability to flange as the waist, I was turned not just into a little girl, but into a little ballerina girl....

This is case that I made earlier. I won't show you that traumatic image of when I tried it on. That image will stay inside a folder on my computer with a twelve digit and letter password. What I will say is that fit is so bloody damned important that what looked to be a sweater I intended to own and love for years will now sadly be the object of a new search for the right person I can insult by giving it to them as a gift. Because no matter what recipient receives this jumper, almost invariably, unless they are female, it will make them look like a girl.

My long winded anecdote now reaches it's conclusion. Before you shop Mr. Porter I recommend the following. Read their instructions on sizing carefully. Make sure you look at every image to ensure you understand the shape and contours of the garments. Don't shop impulsively during sale times. Make sure if it's not a standard sized item like a scarf or a pocket square, that you read the sizing charts and if you are not certain that it will fit, if you are unfamiliar with the brand or the style of the item, don't buy it until you can ascertain this information. In the meantime, my best recommend is to enjoy shopping their website for accessories and items which don't involve size so much because once it arrives, most people don't have the time or the energy to send it back.

Always check the sizing when shopping for clothing items on Mr Porter and don't merely trust the S-XXL tags

1 comment:

  1. Hey, during sale, they send stuff in a plain box. they only offer the white box if it's not discounted! but i guess they should make this clear when you're ordering to avoid disappointment