How menswear for the 'Kingsman' franchise became a commercial success

  • Style
  • Tuesday, 15 Sep 2020

The latest collection for 'The King's Man' includes 170 commercially available style pieces, from shirts to cufflinks, watches and more. It's pretty incredible how far the film has come fashion-wise. Photo: Mr Porter

The opening of the The King's Man may have been pushed to February by 20th Century, but that's not stopping the release of its latest fashion collection. Some of the pieces are already available online, with the remainder going on sale when the film hits theatres next year.

Mr Porter launched the Kingsman brand in conjunction with the first movie, 2015's Kingsman: The Secret Service. Since then, it has created another 12 separate collections in collaboration with several legacy men's brands.

"Historically, movie or no movie, we always release a Kingsman collection in September," Mr Porter buying director Sam Kershaw said.

"So that's very business as usual for us. But I think what we've also learned over time is that we've built a significant audience for Kingsman as a brand. And I think that's the real surprise. When we did the first, back in 2015, we had no expectations on what the demand might be."

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The latest collection of 170 pieces, including Turnbull & Asser shirts, George Cleverly shoes, Deakin & Francis gold cufflinks, a Montblanc writing set and Jaeger-Lecoultre watch were co-created by Michele Clapton, the costume designer of Kingsman: The Golden Circle and The King's Man.

Variety caught up with Kershaw to talk movie tie-ins, the collection's most popular items and how plans changed due to Covid-19. It's pretty incredible how successful the brand has become. – Marc Malkin/Reuters

When most people think of movie tie-ins, they think a Happy Meal at McDonald's or something with Forever 21. They don't think of high-end fashion. How nervous were you about that when you first began the collaboration?

I think there was initial concern but (director) Matthew Vaughn has been quoted saying this so I'm paraphrasing him, but his observation was that you'd see these amazing costumes in movies that you really wanted to wear. I don't mean flamboyant costumes, but just guys that were really well dressed. And you would see it on screen and want to buy it, but actually couldn't. And the only things that were really available were exactly the things that you just described, which is quite terrible, trashy movie 'merch'.

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Do you think most of the people buying from the collection even realise it's part of a movie franchise?

The King's Man is set in World War I, and Michele Clapton's attention to detail is amazing. We have to translate that commercially, but I think there's definitely a customer who wants to buy and wear what's in the film. But things like the cashmere knitwear, and just the core woolen cashmere trousers, I think often people are buying that stuff not necessarily because it's Kingsman, but because it's a great luxury product.

What's been the most popular items since launching the brand?

In the second film, Taron Egerton wears an orange velvet tuxedo. We thought we bought enough for something that's quite – what we would describe on the buying team – a 'tasty piece'. We couldn't get anywhere near enough. I can't remember how many we sold, but we certainly sold over 100 in the time that we've done it. One of the other things that sells incredibly well is the eyewear, particularly the glasses. We've literally sold thousands of Cutler and Gross glasses.

Read more: How costume designer Amy Roberts recreated the 1960s for 'The Crown'

How much had to shift for the new collection because of the pandemic?

Obviously, people don't really need to dress up as much these days. The collection was already made because we operate on such long lead times, but in terms of how we're talking about the collection and promoting the product, yes, you're absolutely right. That has changed. There are whole new categories in there. There's a whole jersey and sweat programme. But the whole idea is that it's done in a very Kingsman way. So they're all cotton and cashmere blends or full cashmere tracksuits, actually. There is a whole other aesthetic to Kingsman now, that probably wasn't present in the earlier years so we've been able to shape the marketing around that.

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