Matchesfashion.com’s pop-up shop at Frieze New York featuring panel discussions, talks and workshops, along with women’s and men’s wear, was like a life-size petri dish for a wide range of artists and other creative voices to intersect with fashion at the behest of the e-commerce site.
Chief executive officer Ulric Jerome and Matchesfashion chief brand officer Jess Christie sat side by side on stools strategically positioned over an air-conditioning grate on the floor of the pop-up shop, which was retaining the heat of late afternoon sun streaming through a wall of glass.
Matches has a lot invested — financial and otherwise — in artists and other creative types, who are conversation-starters, creative juice-stimulators, and loyalty-builders for customers and potential clients.
The London-based site is ratcheting up its artistic involvement as the headline supporter of Faith Ringgold’s inaugural exhibition at a European institution at London’s Serpentine Galleries, June 6 through Sept. 8. “She’s a trend setter,” Ultic said of the 89-year-old Ringgold, who last Wednesday participated in an afternoon tea, along with Yana Peel and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine’s ceo and creative director, respectively.
“The higher the emotion, the higher the spend,” said Jerome. “The more human, authentic and emotional, you get more loyalty.”
“We’re trying to provide a bridge with the products we sell,” said Jerome, citing Ringgold, as an octogenarian who is young in spirit and mind.
Jerome traced the connective tissue between Frieze participants. Devotional Sound — Grace Wales Bonner on Thursday’s calendar was “so inspired by Harlem,” he said. “Faith has inspired so many designers. That’s what we try to do, is build connections.”
“We film everything,” Christie said. “We’re really inclusive.”
The second-to last event at the pop-up on Thursday was a Sneaker Studio roundtable with Matthew Henson, Jian DeLeon, Danny Bowien and Aleali May, which parsed the cultural significance of luxury sneakers. Asked about her first luxury kicks, May said, “Chanel trainers, right before Chanel Sport started.” Henson’s was “Prada, I used to look at my older cousins and they always had Prada.” Meanwhile, Bowien allowed that his Jordan 11s “weren’t luxury, but they were the most iconic. My first pair of shoes — Yeezys. I was stupid and spent so much. I thought it was so groundbreaking.”
Jerome took issue with reports that some luxury clients are so time-stressed they don’t want to peruse catalogues with beautiful photography or learn about all the latest trends. Rather, they want a sales associate to make all the decisions for them, based on their previously recorded preferences.
“I don’t agree at all, up to the point where we built our company into the reverse,” Jerome said. “We believe everyone wants something more, more than ever. They want it to be personal, and they want to be swept off their feet.”
Matches’ center of the universe is 5 Carlos Place in London’s Mayfair. The five-story residence hums with the sophisticated sounds of artist Tom Sachs and designer Kim Gordon’s podcasts, and personal shopping.
Christie said that some customers may be time-poor, “but they appreciate the edit and point of view and we can still offer content and longer form content. You allow them to come to an event, and you let them choose. What we do differently is where we look at how we produce long-form content and we make it very functional – you can shop within it.
“We need the right understanding of the customer, so sales associates can provide the perfect service.”
Don’t think that because Jerome is the ceo of a digital platform that he’s always enamored with technology. “You shouldn’t put technology in the face of consumers,” he said. “When clients decide to go physical, they want to be super [personal].
“When I think of the types of events we do at 5 Carlos Place, we start out to bring some fun and joy and storytelling and community and creating dialogues.
“I feel very excited about technology,” Jerome said, adding, “It’s magic and logic. Or, logic and magic.”
Matches is flexing its nonconforming muscles with Curated By, which asks outside-the-box artists or designers to create 12 looks using as many different products and possible.