ACL Field Trip | Mr Porter’s Office | A Continuous Lean.

ACL Field Trip | Mr Porter’s Office

Jan 31st, 2012 | Categories: ACL Field Trip, London | by Michael Williams

Let me just be completely clear right from the outset here; the Mr Porter HQ in London is the coolest office I have ever visited. I don’t want you guys to be at all confused about how I stand on this issue. The space so perfectly embodies the online shop stroke magazine (see how well I understand their language now) that part of me thought I was on a movie set. Name of the movie you are wondering? Gattaca.

Though seemingly perfect, the room was the furthest thing from pretentious — which is a sad ailment that many “fashion” companies suffer from. Not Mr Porter though, it couldn’t be further from that. There was a genuine sense of collaboration floating around the cavernous rooms as the legions of stylish folks worked away at newsroom style communal tables. Also notably unpretentious was Net-a-Porter / Mr Porter founder Natalie Massenet. As my little tour snaked its way through the space we eventually came to Natalie’s workspace and she took a few minutes to chat with me about how she got her start and how she built Net-a-Porter up from nothing into the admired company it is today. To talk with Natalie was both inspiring and refreshing at the same time. There are so many people in this world that have done seemingly nothing and are so full of themselves, yet then you meet someone like Natalie who couldn’t be more humble.

The Mr Porter offices are very appropriately situated atop one of the most massive shopping malls I have ever seen. Thankfully, American culture was not to fault for this carnival of consumerism, it was the Australians who are to blame. I’m thinking the Aussies saw it as some sort of modern day colonial revenge complete with valet parking. Interestingly, it is not everyday you see that in London. This point was illustrated by the fact that the valet required a sign explaining that they “park the car for you”.

It sort of makes sense for a company running an online store to be located so close to so much physical retail. It likely serves as a daily reminder of the need to think uniquely to serve the customer in a different way. I’m told though that the main reason the Net-a-Porter / Mr Porter offices are located at the Westfield is because of the availability of large footprint office space. These office space needs are obvious when you look at the growth and scale of things at the company.

Just prior to the Mr Porter launch I mentioned on the twitters how intrigued and excited I was to see the site for the first time. It was an interesting time to see the convergence of editorial and retail in one place. It wasn’t just happening at Mr Porter, but I think there was significant interest in the property (from all over) because of where Net-a-Porter had started and what it has become. Jeremy Langmead came over from Esquire UK to lead the editorial team and Toby Bateman was brought in to lead the buying team, establishing a strong team right from the start. Aesthetically, Mr Porter is basically as good as it gets. The difficulty with online stores is creating an experience that translates the merchandise to the consumer in a compelling way. There are so many online stores out there that are selling interesting product, but are coming up short in the presentation of that merchandise. This is something that Mr Porter has navigated very well. One thing no one can deny is the fact that the site is beautifully produced. It’s just a question of whether or not there is a market out there to truly support a menswear shopping operation like Mr Porter. It’s my thinking (for sometime) now that guys want and deserve their own channel and deserve shops that are specifically geared for them. I also think that Mr Porter raises the bar for everyone and us guys are the ones that reap the benefits. Not a bad trade off. If only we could get them to come and kit out our office too. [MR PORTER]

Style guide.

Meeting pods.

One of the many in-house studios.

Mr Terry Betts.

Amazing magazine archive.

More meeting nooks.

You might recognize these shoes from a previous post.

Comments: 29

29 Comments to “ACL Field Trip | Mr Porter’s Office”

  1. Thad
    on Jan 31st, 2012
    @ 4:45 PM

    Westfield is an amazing mall and was one of my favorite malls in all of Europe! Outside of Liberty’s and a few other select retailers, Westfield was a top shopping destination every time we ventured down from London for a day of retail therapy. I will have to say that British malls (with the exception of Milton Keynes, which is horrible) have been developed to make use of public transport remarkably well! Maybe the newer American malls will follow suit …

    Did you catch any meals at the Mall? Byron was a pretty good place for a mall lunch, but now I know they have a Jamie’s Italian which would definitely be my choice now.

  2. Michael Williams
    on Jan 31st, 2012
    @ 4:47 PM

    Thad — you have issues my friend. Please don’t travel the world to go to malls.

  3. Jakobi
    on Jan 31st, 2012
    @ 6:21 PM

    Had no idea they were such a large operation! Awesome offices.

  4. unitedstyle
    on Jan 31st, 2012
    @ 6:34 PM

    That place looks huge. Can their sales support that many people and overhead?

  5. Gibraan
    on Jan 31st, 2012
    @ 6:46 PM

    Damn, I gotta step my game all the way up.

  6. Chris
    on Jan 31st, 2012
    @ 7:55 PM

    Jesus, this is just up the road from me, I can almost see it from here. Two comments, one, I see that office and think….margins. They have good margins.

    Also, foodwise, if you are in Westfield ever again for god’s sake skip the burgers and jamie I-talian, there is a proper tapas bar with a talented chef doing his own thing, working outside the food area up in the upper shops area. Get a sherry and some jambon.

  7. Marylynn
    on Jan 31st, 2012
    @ 8:13 PM

    Dang… It might actually look better than an Apple office with more stylish arty staff. It’s an ad set up for all equipment by Apple.
    Well. Is mom and pop going to survive? This is mind blowing what they have to generate to tackle the world. Maybe it’s the only way?

  8. Marylynn
    on Jan 31st, 2012
    @ 8:18 PM

    Ps. They don’t pay their photo talent they throw in a sweater… That’s what young designers do to save on costs. This is a compound that could clearly spend UK pounds in US of A.

  9. Ryan
    on Jan 31st, 2012
    @ 11:54 PM

    This is seriously unbelievable. Silly me, thinking this website was run out of some fashionable guy’s dorm room…

  10. TMH
    on Jan 31st, 2012
    @ 11:56 PM

    I love the meeting pods

  11. april
    on Feb 1st, 2012
    @ 4:52 AM

    Truly inspiring from merchandises to operations, the atmosphere you created gives me one more reason to love the brand. Thank you, you are my business aspirations!

  12. Atif
    on Feb 1st, 2012
    @ 5:17 AM

    I’ve been here in London for about a month now and have no desire to hit up a mall, even though Westfield is massive and filled with some decent shops. The one in Stratford was built primarily for the Olympic surge they’ll feel later this year. This one’s in White City I believe.

    Finding a large office space in London is no easy task. The company I’m with has employees split across two areas in the complex. They definitely have the investment from Net a porter to afford it so I don’t think it’s about how well they’re doing now; its more about how well they project themselves to be doing in 2012, 2013 and beyond. Oh and image of course. It’s stunning and trumps any other I’ve come across.

    I love how MP blends retail with rich editorial content, I always have and I’d agree with you MW, when you say they’ve raised the bar in the market. They’re creating a unique experience that’s scalable and for a company like Net a Porter, that’s what matters – scale. As long as they can keep the product fine tuned, they’ll continue to grow. Just wish they’d drop J.Crew though I see why it’s carried.

    Great post MW, one of my favorites in a short while. Apologies in advance for the essay of a comment!

  13. Aaron Christian
    on Feb 1st, 2012
    @ 5:51 AM

    I currently work here as the Video style editor and i have to say it’s the best place I’ve ever worked in before. It’s not just the layout of the offices but also the ethos of the company. From the directors to the interns everyone shares a shared vision and a strong passion for their respective fields.

    A place where you want to keep improving the quality of your work. Love live Mr P!

  14. Ramalhoni
    on Feb 1st, 2012
    @ 6:11 AM

    This is the kind of office that can make anyone happy about going to work…
    So nice and inspirational!…

  15. Mike
    on Feb 1st, 2012
    @ 10:37 AM

    It looks like a trading floor at a brokerage. Very cool office.

  16. Larry Felitto
    on Feb 1st, 2012
    @ 10:37 AM

    Michael, I think you should do a post on malls. Strip Malls, Mega Malls, Outdoor Malls…

  17. KRH
    on Feb 1st, 2012
    @ 10:46 AM

    Amazing offices. I do hope Mr. Porter does well. Reports are saying they were disappointed by their sales results. I like the brands on offer through their site. They give lots of detail on items which to me means less likely to return items.

  18. POPTUCKSHOP
    on Feb 1st, 2012
    @ 1:29 PM

    Wow, this is so much more corporate than anything I could ever have imagined. I knew the offices were at Westfield, but I didn’t realise what a large operation it was, I guess everything is oversized in White City. I love and hate Westfield, I have to say I think it would be a blessing to be that near to your workplace for a huge choice of lunches and post-work shopping, though the vacuousness really puts me off it aesthetically…

  19. Fellini
    on Feb 1st, 2012
    @ 1:39 PM

    Mr Porter is a phenomenal site. I’ve never experienced their commerce flow, but their content is tremendous. How they seamlessly blend their content with their product (“read X book while wearing X clothes”) is top notch.

    My jaw dropped when I saw the size of it all. I had no idea Mr Porter was this big of a deal. Very cool too see.

    Any idea how well they do in sales? To support all of that and pay those people (and being in a very niche market space), but they are doing well evidently.

  20. CTP
    on Feb 1st, 2012
    @ 3:20 PM

    it might look cool, but my experience of working in a (n admittedly smaller scale) gattaca-style office is it’s fucking miserable. mind you, we never had pods…

  21. jiheison
    on Feb 1st, 2012
    @ 7:43 PM

    The sterile, dehumanizing dystopia? That Gattaca? Yeah, I can see that.

    Granted, it looks cool, but I agree with CTP.

  22. david
    on Feb 2nd, 2012
    @ 3:42 AM

    truly some of the most stylish large open floor plate offfices Ive seen in a long time – as a founding member of mr porter they have successfully managed to create a strong brand environment both online & for their workforce! an impressive effort!

  23. Nico
    on Feb 2nd, 2012
    @ 6:23 AM

    Not to be a downer, but the meeting pod with the two black canopy chairs is a blatant copy of the Givenchy store on Avenue George V…. Just saying.

  24. Greg Sorensen
    on Feb 2nd, 2012
    @ 12:43 PM

    I too wondered how their sales supports that kind of office. But they are part of Net a Porte I guess so there you go. At any rate, its a slick operation for a slick company.

  25. Bobby B.
    on Feb 2nd, 2012
    @ 1:58 PM

    As much as I like most of the clothes they sell (okay, maybe except D&G logo briefs) I can’t stand their satorial and style advices.

    Q: It’s time to ditch my Timex. What watch I need?
    A: Yeah, buy Rolex.

    Seriously, WTF?

  26. dan w
    on Feb 4th, 2012
    @ 4:26 AM

    I have to say that I find the Mr Porter online store to be really boring….some of the clothing on there is amazing but I really don’t think it has been shown in an interesting way at all. Plus it looked like they over bought for AW 11. 19 pages of sale and straight in at 70% off

  27. Exler
    on Feb 5th, 2012
    @ 5:44 PM

    What a great space, reminds of how cool Sean Penn’s character offices were in Tree of Life. Which Westfield are the offices based at?

  28. Skip
    on Feb 6th, 2012
    @ 12:50 PM

    “Stroke magazine.” Made me laugh.

  29. Alexandra
    on Feb 13th, 2012
    @ 12:33 PM

    That’s an impressive magazine archive they have!