MATCHESFASHION.COM is an institution. With stores all over London and a global audience of eager shop-a-holics, the late night brain child of husband and wife duo, Ruth and Tom Chapman has earned its (rather stylish) stripes in the e-commerce space. Known for a thoughtful mix of new guard designers (Christopher Kane, Erdem, Peter Pilotto) and lasting favorites (Alexander McQueen, Valentino, Givenchy), MATCHESFASHION.COM has grown to more than 750,000 unique visitors per week and has become an expert voice in curating the latest trends.
We sat down with founder and CEO, Ruth to chat nailing that elusive work/life balance, the latest styles to lust over and the secret to uncovering the next big thing in fashion.
Founding MATCHESFASHION.COM with your husband, Tom, no doubt blurred the line between work and play. Do you strike a balance?
It is really important to differentiate between work and family time, but sometimes it can be hard not to share stories of our working day, especially if we haven’t spent any time together in the office. When we are all sitting together on the sofa we try not to spend too much time talking about work. Although, as our kids like to point out, we often end up on our iPads or Blackberrys, emailing each other and our teams without realising!
Tell us about the first designer piece you bought…
It was an amazing purple Quorum dress by Betty Jackson, which I bought when I was 15. I saw the dress in Vogue and instantly fell in love. I was living out of London at the time and spent my days poring over fashion magazines for inspiration. I was so excited when I finally received it, although it did financially ruin me for a while!
Looking back on your 25 years in fashion, which trend makes you cringe the most?
The puffball skirt – luckily I never succumbed to this one!
Your edit boasts the likes of Saint Laurent, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana, but also features the work of emerging designers. What signifies a promising new label?
It’s hard to put into words why a new label excites us. Whilst good production, a level of commercial awareness and strong brand DNA are all key, a lot of it is down to instinct and that feeling you get when you know you’ve just seen something really special. We always want to delight our customers with our selection of product, whether this be Saint Laurent runway looks or an emerging designer who we have spotted out and about. For example, when we picked up New York designer Rosie Assoulin last season, we were looking for some modern evening wear brands and instantly fell in love with her aesthetic, which felt new and fresh and something we had not seen before.
Heading into the cooler months, what trends do you see making their way into Aussie wardrobes?
The seventies trend, which we saw emerging this spring/summer is definitely continuing through into pre-fall. It’s perfect for Australia, with fabrics such as velvet, corduroy and tweed, but paired back to lighter cottons and silks to temper the wintery feel. I also think the luxe denim trend is very relevant. Opt for oversized lace up denim dresses from Gucci, raw edge soft twill from Marques Almeida and tailored denim from Christophe Lemaire and Bottega Veneta. In addition, look out for the new wave of denim brands that are coming out of London and LA, including Aries, Bliss and Mischief and Tortoise. Their reworked, beautifully embellished or artfully distressed denim will make it hard to just buy one pair!
And finally; style. Can it be learned?
There are some people who have an innate sense of style, which is impossible to replicate. However, for me style is an incredibly personal thing and it is difficult to pinpoint why someone is stylish. I think a person’s style can evolve, and can be shaped by who is around you – your work colleagues, your friends, and the city you live in.
Ruth Chapman will speak at the coveted Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival Business Seminar and Marketing Breakfast. Limited tickets available via ticketek.com.au or vamff.com.au.