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When you think about it, the best dressed men in movies have been spies or gentleman criminals: think James Bond (both the Sean Connery and Daniel Craig versions) and Thomas Crowne (Steve McQueen and Pierce Brosnan, of course), both resplendent in ultra masculine tailoring and fabrics. These are the screen’s icons of elegant masculinity.
But suits, shirts, shoes and ties like the ones worn by these iconic male action figures have been unaffordable – and unattainable – to the everyday man. Until now.
Get ready, gentleman (and ladies who love them): the Kingsman collection will launch on MrPorter.com — Net-a-Porter’s dapper male outpost –in mid September, and the price range for Savile-Row-style suiting will start at a $1,750 price point.
While lots of films have done clothing or jewelry or product tie-ins after the fact – this is the first time that the idea for a full collection of clothing was conceived while the film was being conceived – and its costume designer, Arianne Phillips (A Single Man, W.E., Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway, and Madonna’s stylist), created the sleek, double breasted suits for stars Colin Firth, Michael Caine and the rest of the cast with commerciality in mind.
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“And all of it is made in Britain,” Phillips says, fresh off her 2014 Tony nomination for Best Costume Design of a Musical.
It all started in the brain of 43-year-old director/writer Matthew Vaughn (Kiss-Ass, X-Men: First Class). He credits the Kingsman collection to “selfishness” — his own.
“To be blunt, there aren’t that many clothing options for men like me, in their forties. Suits are cut super skinny and tight, or they’re very traditional,” he tells THR. “I realized – there’s no mens‘ line smack dab in the middle.”
Vaughn, who admits he’s a “closet clothes guy” (and why wouldn’t he be when his wife is supermodel Claudia Schiffer?), likens suits to “modern armor.”
So, he rang up his old friend Natalie Massenet, a former editor of British fashion magazines and founder of the Net-a-porter empire. He asked if she liked the idea of launching an entire new mens‘ collection on MrPorter.com – straight from the movie’s costumes. She said yes immediately, according to Vaughn.
“I knew the clothes had to really serve the plot — and they do in our film,” he says. “An elite secret group of gentleman spies camouflage their identity by holding meetings in a Savile Row tailor’s shop. It’s not like the clothes are an added benefit or not utterly functional to the story. They are a big part of the story. Colin is grooming a young man to be the next gentleman spy — and in this case, the clothes do make the man.”
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Toby Bateman, global buying director for MrPorter.com, thought of the Kingsman collection as “the perfect new take on film/fashion merchandising.”
“Men are influenced by film icons. They’re quite fussy – and in this collection, we have the suits, trousers, jackets, overcoats, eyewear, slippers, robes, shirts, ties – everything from British mills and even outside of Arianne’s designs, all the brands are traditional British ones for gentlemen.”
Vaughn conceived the Kingsman suits as double breasted, not traditionally tailored and cut like these are (Firth worked out for six months to be in top gentleman spy fighting shape).
“I was sick of those skinny eighties-style suits,” Vaughn says with a laugh. “I prefer the forties.”
But that added its own challenges.
“It was more of a challenge to make them fit and flattering,” says Phillips. “A British silhouette is different from an Italian one in suiting. It’s all about structure.”
Phillips was looking for an entrepreneurial opportunity for a long time when this came along.
“This is the first one that really spoke to me – because it’s straight story telling. The costumes had to serve the film first, but also were designed as a collection while we were creating them,” she says. “I’m hopeful this will resonate on a global scale – this is the first project and collection of its kind. A lot of time movie merchandising doesn’t involve the costume designer – but this is so much more than movie merchandising.”
Along with Phillips’ suits, jackets, trousers and more, the Kingsman collection will also include George Cleverley footwear (also featured in the film), Turnbull & Asser shirts, Drakes’ ties, Cutler & Gross eyewear, Bremont timepieces and Mackintosh outwear.
The Kingsman collection will continue after the film has finished its theatrical run. Phillips is currently planning a spring 2015 collection and this is launching the idea of it becoming a permanent new brand. Meanwhile, the trailer for Kingsman: The Secret Service is so fun, fast and beautiful to look at – a sequel is already in the works.
Kingsman: The Secret Service will be released October 24.
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