Tom and Ruth Chapman are the co-chief executives of Matches Fashion. Matches is a multi-channel retailer consisting of a healthy global e-commerce business and 14 stores across London. It has come to be considered one of the premier independent fashion retailers in the United Kingdom, stocking Prada, Miu Miu, Marc Jacobs and Diane Von Furstenberg.
Following a catering college and a brief stint in the hospitality industry, during which he realized he was “a bit of a control freak,” in 1997 Tom Chapman rented his first shop in Wimbledon, London. He told Draper’s Online. “It was the 1980s and rents were cheap; you didn’t have to spend three quarters of a million opening a store then, we painted the shop ourselves.”
Chapman initially rented the shop with his sister, however, following her relocation, he convinced his future-wife Ruth to join him from Jaeger. “The first two years were a real learning curve – very hand to mouth. We had to learn the hard way, but that’s the best way. And my God, did we learn fast.”
A standalone menswear store was opened, along with MaxMara’s first franchise store in 1992. Matches would go onto open further branches in Richmond, Wimbledon and Notting Hill in 2001. “At that point the business attained a strong direction and we needed to change the way we were working; we were surrounded by the press and it was a really exciting period,” Chapman says.
In 2006 Matches launched their online store, which receives over 7 million visitors a year and now sends out on average over 1,000 orders per week.