Drapers catches up with Jason Cater, vice president of design and merchandising at US luxury lifestyle label Peter Millar to find out about the brand’s plans to conquer the UK.
Counting Harrods and MrPorter.com amongst its current stockists, Richemont-owned American luxury lifestyle brand Peter Millar is setting its sights on UK expansion next year. Better known as a golfwear brand and official Ryder Cup licensee, the American label is branching out into luxury lifestyle clothing. The spring 16 collection was designed by Jason Cater, former Ermenegildo Zegna Group vice president of sportswear and leathergoods, who joined Peter Millar as vice president of design and merchandising in February. Wholesale prices start from £26 for a melange polo shirt from the Crown collection.
What has the reaction been since Peter Millar launched in Harrods in July?
Harrods has been exceeding expectations. We have a fantastic, dedicated staff member who speaks English, French, Spanish and Arabic, so she is excellent with the international clientele. Our strongest categories so far have been outerwear and knitwear. Our shearling coat and cashmere vests have almost sold out. We hope being in retailers like Harrods will provide the springboard for success across the rest of Europe.
Do you plan to open UK standalone stores in the near future?
The UK is a really important market with a customer that has a real appreciation of luxury and style. It is in fact one of our top three international markets alongside Canada and Spain. So longer term, yes we would love a flagship store in London. However, for now we are keen to focus on our wholesale partners and building the brand with the best department stores and independents in Europe.
With our golf product we already have a wide distribution within the best UK golf resorts such as St Andrews and Gleneagles, but our two points of sale right now on the fashion side are Mr Porter and Harrods. Since we launched with them both this summer the response has been very positive, with many customers buying whole looks and not just one item.
We’re planning to launch our European ecommerce platform in the second quarter of 2016 which is really exciting and we’ll be opening a London showroom for autumn 16.
We have a five year strategy. First we want to focus on growing business in Europe, in particular the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. Then in three to five years we’ll look at expansion into Asia.
Why did you decide to make the move from Ermenegildo Zegna to Peter Millar earlier this year?
Having worked for a luxury European brand like Zegna since 2007, I wanted the chance to work for a quintessentially American luxury brand that has a real ‘American aesthetic’.
How would you describe that design aesthetic?
We find a lot of cross pollination between the golf world and luxury fashion. We’re really focused on the details of the garment, from the stitching on a polo shirt to the mother of pearl buttons on a crisp white shirt.
We want to be known for the perfect cotton, silk and Lycra poplin trouser or the perfect pique three button collared polo, made in cotton, Tencel and Lycra for a soft, fluid drape.
There are two sub-brands within the collection. The first brand is called Crown, which is our opening price point. The range is focused on casual comfort and quality natural fibre fabrics.
The second sub-brand is called Collection, which is our aspirational luxury range, centred on the finest raw materials such as Pima and Egyptian cotton, cashmere and wool. The theme of this range is subtlety and sophistication.
For spring 16 we are especially excited about a range of windproof and water resistant jackets in a lightweight technical fabric that are perfect for travelling. This blazer style jacket has a really functional five pocket construction, which even if you roll it up will still retain its shape.
Another key piece for spring 16 is a sweater which combines the shape retention of wool, with the light, breathability of cotton. It comes in muted shades of lavender, soft blue and indigo.
Have you adapted the designs specifically for the UK market?
No, we find the appeal of our design is universal, although we have introduced a contemporary tailored fit which we expect will be popular in Europe.