The New Kingsman Collection: An Origin Story

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The New Kingsman Collection: An Origin Story

Words by Mr Chris Elvidge | Photography by Mr Ben Weller | Styling by Mr Olie Arnold

9 September 2020

You’d have to have been living under a rock not to have heard of Kingsman, Mr Matthew Vaughn’s blockbuster spy movie franchise, the third instalment of which is scheduled to hit our screens next year in February. But what about Kingsman, the menswear label? It all started, as many big ideas do, with a daydream.

One day in 2012, while he was being fitted for a suit on Savile Row, London’s famous street of bespoke suitmakers, a curious idea popped into Mr Vaughn’s head. “I was bored of standing in the fitting room, so I imagined putting my hand on the mirror and it transporting me to a secret place,” he recalled. He allowed his mind to wander further, picturing himself stepping through the mirror and into a maze of corridors and hidden rooms packed with high-tech gadgetry.

“When I was a kid, I loved movies, and I was heavily influenced by what the movie stars were wearing,” says Mr Vaughn. “I remember loving the Wayfarer sunglasses that Tom Cruise wore in Risky Business, [and] I ended up purchasing a pair immediately.” What if, he thought, you could pull out your phone after leaving the cinema and buy the very same clothes, shoes and accessories you had just seen on screen? 

The result of that brainwave was Kingsman, a collection of luxury menswear and accessories exclusive to MR PORTER that is inspired by the fantasy world of the dapper gentleman spy, but designed with real men in mind. Intended from the start to live on as a standalone brand regardless of the continuation of the movie franchise, Kingsman has since become one of MR PORTER’s most popular labels, with 12 seasons – and counting – of luxury menswear to its name.

And this week marks the launch of the latest collection, which is inspired by the historical setting of the next instalment in the movie franchise, The King’s Man. Scheduled to arrive in cinemas on 26 February 2021, this prequel takes audiences back to the early days of WWI to investigate the origins of the Kingsman intelligence agency.

The movie’s period setting posed a unique challenge for the costume director, Ms Michele Clapton, who was tasked with designing a wardrobe that was not only historically accurate, but also made sense in the context of a modern commercial menswear collection. “It was a delicate balance of portraying historical accuracy whilst evoking the style and cool of the Kingsman brand,” she says.

Luckily, the first few decades of the last century remain a hugely influential era for men’s fashion, and many of the styles that were popular at the time require only a small nip-and-tuck to bring them right back up to date. “We discovered to our surprise that with just a few tweaks of classic shapes and styles from the early 20th century, you could create something quite timeless and modern,” Ms Clapton explains.

Among the era’s archetypal styles is the three-piece suit, which, along with the double-breasted suit that has become a Kingsman signature over the years, provides the foundation for this new collection. But it’s not just tailoring. The wartime setting also gave Ms Clapton the chance to experiment with military classics, such as officers’ greatcoats, ceremonial dress trousers and leather flight jackets. 

As with previous Kingsman collections, the headline acts are backed up by a complete men’s wardrobe of knitwear, shirting, footwear and accessories, all produced by a who’s who of British heritage brands. As the movie’s director, Mr Vaughn, explains, “I wanted to pick the best of British for the gentleman spies, as this is what they would have worn as tailors.” Under the wider Kingsman label, then, there are formal shirts from Turnbull & Asser, hats from Lock & Co, Oxford shoes from George Cleverley, ties and pocket squares from Drake’s, and more.

The list of Kingsman’s brand partners has expanded over the years to include desk accessories from Smythson of Bond Street and lead-crystal glassware from Higgs & Crick, and it continues to expand still. New for this season are Montblanc, which has designed an exclusive writing instrument, and Jaeger-LeCoultre, which has provided a limited-edition wristwatch, the Master Ultra Thin Kingsman Knife. Measuring in at a slender 4mm thickness and limited to just 100 pieces, this gorgeous piece of heritage watchmaking is available exclusively at MR PORTER until the end of September.

From a whimsical train of thought in a tailors’ shop, Kingsman has grown into not just into a successful movie franchise but a complete lifestyle brand for the modern gentleman. Thanks to the ongoing situation with Covid-19, you’ll now have to wait until February 2021 to see all of this featured on the big screen in The King’s Man, at which point we’ll also be releasing a special, nine-part “costume to collection” capsule. Until then, you can live out your gentleman spy fantasies through the 161-piece Kingsman collection, which is available now exclusively on MR PORTER.