Matches fashion 85 ledbury road shops

Although buying director Natalie Kingham’s work is squarely rooted in the virtual world of online shopping, the 45-year-old South London native’s approach to dressing couldn’t be more, well, real. Sure, major and young designers alike pepper her closet—Vetements! Saint Laurent! Marni!—but as she tells us, “real” style is what truly excites her, not the curated kind found splashed across social media. Just as when Kingham first people-watched and perused the stalls of Portobello Market as a little girl, these days she is most inspired, she says, by a woman with a strong sense of self and self-expression. And now, she gets to dress them. Overseeing the sharp buying of Matches’s international, contemporary, vactionwear, activewear, bags, shoes, and accessories categories, Kingham channels her experience as a stylist, photographer’s assistant, and designer to stay abreast of the ever-changing turn of trends and understand what those real-style women will want to wear next. Case in point? The site’s upcoming capsule collections with Simone Rocha, Zandra Rhodes, Roksanda Ilincic, and Katie Eary this fall.

Here, Kingham breaks down her style roots, her Fashion Week packing secrets, and why she can’t leave home without a tux.

natalie kingham
9 to 5

A London Raver Turned Fashion Girl
For as long as I can remember, I loved clothes and dressing up. I was always interested in what people wore and loved looking at the way the women in my extended family dressed. As a preteen I was taken to Portobello Market and instantly drawn to the way people expressed themselves through their clothes. It was the early ’80s, and Notting Hill was a very different place than what it is today. As a teenager I started going to clubs—in those days the club scene was underground and the way you dressed determined your entry or refusal, especially if you were underage! You couldn’t get all this fast fashion back then. We used to create it in our bedrooms: cut things up and go to secondhand stores and go through my grandmother’s wardrobe. The girls used to come round after school and we would decide what look everyone was going for, so my week was spent creating and styling my friends and my attire.

Deep Roots in London’s Fashion Scene
I applied for a place at a fashion college, but you needed to have an art background and I was hopeless at drawing. I decided instead to try my hand at photography and got a job assisting a photographer. I was also working at the Joseph shop at Brompton Cross, a major fashion hub at that time, and an incredible opportunity came up when Joseph asked me to find interesting British labels for him and to help with the buying for the store, which was so exciting! Patrick Cox was a favorite of mine, as well as Alexander McQueen—I attended some of his first shows and bought the collection, promising Joseph it would be a success! I have also been a stylist, had my own line of clothes, and wholesaled collections, so I have had a diverse cross-section of jobs.

Dressing to Make a Statement
As womenswear buying director, I oversee the buying across all our categories. The focus as a team is to ensure that we have the best edit of luxury brands. It is also important for the team to constantly look at where trends are developing and find what we believe our customers will want next. Another key part of our job is to continuously review our edit of brands, reevaluating and working out what is missing. In my opinion, the most important thing for a buyer to remember is to buy with a strong point of view and to keep things fresh and exciting. As well as attending shows and visiting showrooms during Fashion Weeks, we also spend a lot of time meeting designers outside of these weeks, when we discuss how we can partner even more successfully through exclusive collaborations. This season we are launching exclusive capsules with Simone Rocha and Roksanda, to name two. I also spend a lot of time traveling for this job—not just for Fashion Weeks but also for press and client events in our key markets, from the U.S. to South Korea to Australia—so there is an element of comfort with what I choose to wear. However, I also enjoy making statements and love the power that clothes can have and how much confidence an outfit can give you.

What a Buying Director Buys for Herself
I have some old favorites that I like to bring out every season—a Saint Laurent tux, a black long-sleeved dress from Giles, an embroidered coat by By Walid, and some Marni velvet platforms—but right now I love Vetements and everything they are doing, and I have a number of their pieces in my wardrobe that are fast becoming staples. New to the MatchesFashion stable of designers is Ryan Roche, known as an expert in head-to-toe knitwear. She specializes in elegant cashmere that is the epitome of modern minimalism, and I know I will be wearing some of her pieces all winter long. I’ll be adding a blazer from Blaze, shirts by Palmer Harding and Balenciaga, and eveningwear by Hillier Bartley to my fall/winter wardrobe. I live in the Vetements jeans. The jeans are made from two vintage pairs of jeans that are taken apart and reconstructed, the pockets are removed, and the dark patches give the illusion of lifting your bottom. That with a crisp white shirt and Gucci slip-ons makes me feel ready to take on anything!

Photo: Phill Taylor

9 to 5

The Shoes That Keep Her on the Go
I am definitely more of a flats girl these days, which I swap out for flatforms when I want a bit more height—comfort is key and my Golden Goose trainers or Simone Rocha slides are current favorites. However, there are some days when my over-the-knee boots from Nicholas Kirkwood are my go-to. This season I loved the platform “broken”-heel boots from Balenciaga, Vetements glitter unicorn sock boots and reflector heel boots, the Feather trainers in pink and green at Christopher Kane, and the J.W.Anderson crystal pointy-toe kitten heels.

Accessories That Make an Impact
I love Aurélie Bidermann’s combination of craftsmanship with a sense of easy bohemian elegance; I wear a lot of her jewelry on a daily basis. This season, however, it is all about statement pieces, and for me Loewe stands out—the single earrings and oversize cat necklace in particular. In fact, single statement earrings were a key look for several brands. I loved the delicate take on this from Maria Tash and Hillier Bartley. My new Roksanda tote is a favorite of mine. I love the clean lines, feminine shape, and architectural, intricate construction. My other bag of choice at the moment is the J.W.Anderson Pierce bag. My handbag essentials include my purse, mints, iPhone, sunglasses, keys, and lip balm.

natalie kingham

Never Leave Home Without a Tux!
I find packing for fashion month is the trickiest, but I’ve learned a few things. I have a lot of ready-made packages, like a medicine bag and sewing kit. It’s very grueling and tiring, so in order to get up every day and feel polished and put together, good quality and simple products work well. A lot of cashmere sweaters, a good black pair of trousers, a lot of shirts. Normally fashion months tend to have tran-seasonal weather, so it could start off very cold and end up very warm, which is why the clean, minimal wardrobe is very good. I never travel without a tux. That’s always my evening go-to. White shirts and red lipsticks bring you to life. My essentials include Thierry Lasry sunglasses, my iPhone, lip balm, mints, and my Maison Michel hat for a bad hair day.

Fashion Week Tip? Don’t Dress for the Photographers
Today I often feel that so many people in the public eye are styled so carefully that it doesn’t feel authentic. I prefer to draw inspiration from real people with real style. I have many icons, all of whom are strong, independent women with an innate sense of self and what they wear: Kate Moss, Chrissie Hynde, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Siouxsie Sioux, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Katharine Hepburn. At the shows now, so many women dress to be photographed, but I love to pay attention to true street style, the kind you don’t often see on the blogs.

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