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Mr Start

Philip Start is targeting a select list of stockists for his debut premium menswear collection.

There are few operators in the menswear market that don’t know the name Philip Start, and those that don’t are about to - as much as he’d hate to admit it.

It’s the second time that Drapers has seen Start in as many weeks. The first time he was talking to Harrods fashion and beauty director Marigay McKee and her team at the London Fashion Week presentation of his debut Mr Start collection for autumn 11. Today it’s a much less frenetic affair, talking over a hot chocolate in an east London cafe just up the road from his premium menswear boutique Mr Start on Rivington Street.

Start wants to keep the new Mr Start wholesale label low profile, so low in fact that he is reticent to share which retailers have bought the collection for the first season, but it’s safe to say at least two of the big three luxury department stores - Harrods and Selfridges - have expressed an interest.

“It’s not stuck up, I’m just very aware that you can expand but that you also need to be able to deliver. I don’t want to let people down. I don’t want to be snobby, but I pretty much know which stockists I want, but I’m always open to having conversations with people.”

Start has been in this game long enough to know reputation is everything and that it’s slow and steady that wins the race. That’s why his intimate LFW presentation took place in a hotel suite instead of on a grand catwalk, why his collection comprised just a handful of looks and why the models dressed in the collection stood still.

Start founded well-known menswear retailer Woodhouse in 1975, after learning the trade at legendary King’s Road menswear indie Village Gate. He sold his last shareholding in Woodhouse in 1998. Today he runs and designs Mr Start and co-owns premium boutique Start with his partner Brix Smith-Start and now also designs the Mr Start range.

The Mr Start collection comprises minimal, slim block tailoring and elegant separates such as short-length jackets, roll-neck knitwear and narrow flannel trousers. A db dinner suit has sold well so far, says Start, and a footwear collaboration between Northampton footwear manufacturer Crockett & Jones and a selection of UK-made ties and bow ties complete the range. “I don’t have a specific guy in mind when I design but I don’t like the overuse of heritage. The collection is contemporary, architectural and minimal, and without superfluous detail. My concept is really tight.”

Start sources as much fabric as he can from UK mills and retail prices are about £99.50 for a shirt and up to £795 for an suit, thanks to a 2.8 mark-up.

Mr Start 020 7729 6272

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