Entrepreneur and fashion maven Ruth Chapman has been at the forefront of luxury fashion retail since opening a small boutique with her husband Tom in Wimbledon in the 1980s. The first multi-brand retailer to introduce designers including Prada and Bottega Veneta into the UK market, MatchesFashion.com was also a pioneer in online retail, ingeniously unifying its brick-and-mortar and the digital platforms around customer choice to become one of the world’s most successful online luxury fashion retailers. Of course, Ruth’s passion for clothes began long before that – she remembers customizing her school uniforms for example. Fast forward a few decades later, and she’s the co-founder of a multimillion-pound retail empire with over 400 brands and customers in 190 countries, a reflection of both her fashion sense and business savvy. We recently caught up with Ruth to ask her about her inspirations, guilty pleasures and treasured possessions.
How would you define yourself in three words?
Creative, curious, resourceful.
A project/initiative you’re most proud of?
My three children.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from everywhere. Often from my children. They’re all deeply thoughtful and insightful people. My friends. Reading, books, magazines, artists and their thinking, watching people on the street, travelling to new places.
Which art/design/style icons you are most inspired by?
Artists I’m currently obsessing over are Zanele Muholi (my husband gave me one of her photographs last Christmas), Deborah Roberts, Kara Walker, Lynett Yiadom-Boakye, Alice Neel, Jeffrey Gibson. I really connect to how art can speak to the times. Art is such a vital voice in society.
Which colours are you currently enamoured by?
I wear lots of black, navy, white, grey. Very little print but in my home I use a lot of gentle colour to soothe and earthy colours. Lots of green, yellow, grey, pink, salmon.
A timeless design piece you own?
The classic items I keep in my wardrobe are usually Gabriella Hearst and Roksanda Illincic. I love an oversized blazer and a soft cashmere knit with pants and flat shoes.\
A timeless design piece you own?
The classic items I keep in my wardrobe are usually Gabriella Hearst and Roksanda Illincic. I love an oversized blazer and a soft cashmere knit with pants and flat shoes.
What’s an accessory you had for ages?
An accessory I’ve had for a long time is my Birkenstock’s. I’ve been wearing them nonstop during lockdown.
What item in your closet do you wear the most?
Also, during lockdown I’ve been living in my blue jeans by Raey. Classic straight-leg shape.
The beauty product you can’t live without?
The beauty product I can’t live without is my RMS lipstick. My youngest daughter introduced me to this brand. She’s a vegan and the brand is based on vegan, natural values. Plus, their colours are great.
Which city would you chose to live in if you had to move?
My favourite city to live in other than London would probably by NYC. I’ve spent a year there recently and been travelling there regularly for four decades so it always feels like home. If I could bring anything back to London it would be Sant Ambroeus restaurant in the West Village or ABCV on East 19th.
Three Instagram accounts you check daily?
I’m not particularly active on Instagram but I do I check Duro OLowu, Laura Bailey and Kay Montano for their poetic and philosophical mix of words and images.
Favourite destination and hotel?
I love to get to Patmos each summer for a week. There’s a group of friends who I love to travel with. I also love Il Pellicano in Italy for its romance and fun. I miss being part of Europe and still feel entirely European rather than British.
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life?
Paragliding over Acapulco bay in Mexico.
What do you miss most when travelling?
Your latest discovery?
Trello – a great organizational tool that I now use at home for fixing things, shopping lists, and any family appointments.
I love so many museums. My favourite is Studio Voltaire for the important work they do in London and internationally to support emerging artists and nurture a broader community spirit – they’ve informed much of my decisions around artists I follow.
What quote do you live by?
My mantra is “Seize the day” for sure. Life is too short otherwise.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Italian coffee with oat milk. I love the taste and buzz.
What is your most treasured possession?
My pre-digital photo albums. My children as babies and toddlers.
Your idea of happiness?
Hanging out with friends and family in the sun somewhere in Greece or Italy.