As co-founders and former co-chief executives of MatchesFashion, one of the premier independent fashion retailers in the United Kingdom and a major player in the e-commerce market, Tom and Ruth Chapman turned a brick-and-mortar store into a global platform stocking the most influential, international luxury brands, while championing British fashion talent. In 2017 Apax Partners acquired a majority stake in MatchesFashion in a deal that valued the company at a reported $1 billion.
Ruth and Tom created Matchesfashion.com — then known as MatchesFashion — in 1987 in Wimbledon. They were the first multi-brand retailer to introduce designers including Prada and Bottega Veneta into the UK market. A standalone menswear store was opened — along with Max Mara’s first franchise store — in 1992. The business currently operates five stores in premium locations across the British capital.
Over the years, the Chapmans expanded their retail network to include 14 stores across the British capital. In 2006, seeing the digital opportunity before many, Matchesfashion.com launched its e-commerce store. With great foresight, Matchesfashion.com launched with international shipping, allowing it to begin building an international business in the nascent days of e-commerce. Today, Matchesfashion.com stocks 450 established and emerging designers, receives 55 million visitors a year, with 80 percent of orders coming from the 176 international markets the site serves.
In 2013, all brand platforms were renamed MatchesFashion.com to create a uniform brand identity across several multimedia platforms. The company is a model example of digital retail, engaging in meaningful collaborations with style influencers who curate selections of apparel and accessories, themed shoppable edits and 24/7 personalised styling advice available online. The company’s website is responsible for 95 percent of its revenue.
The pair stepped down as co-chief executives in 2015, taking on the role of joint chairmen instead. They were succeeded by their chief operating officer Ulric Jerome, who aims to establish Matchesfashion.com as the world’s foremost online luxury fashion retailer. Tom and Ruth remain intimately involved the business they built. In their new roles as joint chairmen they continue to act as the public faces of the retailer, and are particularly focused on the international expansion of their business and activating new markets as it continues to expand.
In 2016 Matchesfashion.com, whose clientele is said to spend full price order average of £650 per online visit, shifted their European headquarters to The Shard, where 300 of their 500 employees now work.