– By Val Bitici –
Crisis: You have just stepped off a red-eye to London only to find that your not-so-trustworthy airline has accidentally treated your suitcase to a vacation in Dubai. Eek! You can’t even spend one day in the sloppy black leggings and denim button-down you wore on the flight. Frantically thumbing through your travel guide, your eyes scan a list of London-based megastores: Harrods, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols. Your travel buddy calmly reaches for the book and reassures you, “Remember when Olivia Palermo modeled for that retailer, Matches? They have everything – Let’s go there!”
Tom and Ruth Chapman opened their first Matches boutique, a menswear store, in Wimbledon, 21 years ago. The couple has since expanded their one-shop business into an impressive syndicate of 15 stores devoted to men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, and a women’s fashion line called Freda. (Our very own Olivia modeled for this line last year.)
Today, the Chapmans are praised for creating a retail empire that welcomes sartorialists both daring and tame. Despite having let out its seams for ongoing growth, each shop maintains its small-boutique charm with first-rate service and a carefully curated selection of merchandise. Combine all this with the Chapmans’ passion for discovering new talent—last week their Marylebone shop’s window was devoted to newbie designer Roksanda Ilincic’s bright, color-block gowns—and it’s easy to realize that Matches deserves its rank among London’s leading fashion retailers.
Since each shop offers something unique, we’ll focus on the Notting Hill stores – after all, with four boutiques on Ledbury Road alone, it’s a wonder that the street has not yet been named “Matches Way.” 60 Ledbury Road features big-name luxury designers such as Balenciaga, Lanvin, Giambattista Valli, and Marc Jacobs. Matches Spy, across the street, bows to a younger demographic with a versatile mix of denim brands and popular lines such as 3.1 Phillip Lim, McQ by Alexander McQueen, Marcus Lupfer, and Miu Miu. The emporium’s Diane von Furstenberg shop is nearby, as is one of the conglomerate’s five menswear stores.
Yes, stepping into a Matches will make any fashionista’s heart flutter with excitement, but if you can’t make it to London for a shopping spree, don’t fret. The Chapmans have thoughtfully set up an online store with shipping options to continents across the world.
Val Bitici is a writer, born and raised in manhattan. Since 2008, she has worked as part of Vanity Fair’s editorial team, sometimes contributing to vf.com. Val spends her free time blogging (miscv.tumblr.com), traveling, trying new restaurants, cooking, skiing, and dreaming about one day becoming an art collector.