Hylton, Menswear Designer, in fact, is that man. “I am the Ports 1961 customer,” he says, “and so it’s exciting to be a part of something I believe.” At 46, Hylton has the experience to live up to his emotional connection to clothes. “My parents were always very fashionable,” recalls Hylton, the oldest of five children. “They came to London, where I was born, from the West Indies. My father was an engineer and my mother worked in health care. As new arrivals to the country, presentation was very important to them. My father once told me you should always be dressed for the career you want next, not the one you already have. I wasn’t even allowed to wear jeans til eighth grade – my mother wouldn’t hear of it!”
Hylton was devoted to preppie style during his high school years. “I was very conscious of the way I looked,” he says, “I always loved fashion.” An internship at Ralph Lauren in Paris convinced him to make a career in the industry. He went on to visual merchandising at Club Monaco, became a buyer for a designer boutique in Canada, served as editor at Flare, Canada’s fashion bible, and was Men’s Fashion Director at the famed Holt Renfrew department store, where management told him to “make the men’s store look just like you.” He joined Ports 1961 in late 2010.
Hylton depends on the highest quality luxury fabrics to build a wardrobe for men who appreciate the subtleties that a well-conceived men’s collection should offer, and always has in mind the man he is designing for.
“The Ports customer travels frequently and is globally aware,” Hylton says. “They are no strangers to luxury, but because they are always on the road, they want to travel light.” Multi-use pieces are therefore at the collection’s core: jackets that are formal enough for meetings that are also comfortable in-flight or at dinner. Our customer is confident in himself, projecting the same relaxed elegance at the office or at the weekend. He does not change the way he looks.”
That’s because the Ports 1961 man always looks sleek and elegant. The signature silhouette is slim and architectural, focusing on the classic, inverted obelisk with strong shoulders, and tapered waist. The color palette is classic, with subtle distinctions through the seasons, taking grays from slate to elephant and pale neutrals alike. Baby camel hair, cashmere, flannel, vicuna, waterproofed cottons, high-twist shirtings and the occasional technical material all might make an appearance in his collections – and all from the world’s top Italian mills.
With Hylton working under Fiona Cibani, the brand’s Creative Director, inspiration comes from far and wide. As with the Ports 1961 women’s collection though, style is key. “Our gent is stylish before he is fashionable,” Hylton says. “The Ports 1961 men’s collection is for the executive, the athlete, the traveler in every man – the Ports man is confident, self-aware, and simply wants to look good. He insists on quality first, and is not a victim to fashion”.
And Hylton continues, “You create memories with clothes and wear the best over and over. There’s a reason why your favorites are always at the dry cleaner when you are heading out onto the road…”