I’ve noticed something recently in between my constant online browsing; Ports 1961 is popping up everywhere from La Garçonne to Totokaelo to Ssense. Ports is originally a Canadian brand founded in 1961, but has struggled in the last ten years to find its place within the market – the Cibani sisters, Tia and Fiona, each held the creative position for a few years, and took it in decidedly different directions. Tia stepped down in 2010 after six years, and Fiona stepped down four years later and took on the President role of the Ports company. (Her husband Alfred Chan owns Ports NY Inc.) Lanvin and Stella McCartney alum Natasa Cagalj took over the creative direction in late 2014. Since then the once quiet, ladylike brand, heavily influenced by the brand’s inherent international-ness has evolved into a more stable sportswear brand targeting a younger customer. This is evidenced by a menswear collaboration last year with Everlast, yes, that Everlast, the iconic boxing brand. Ports 1961’s identity has also been up in the air with the brand moving it’s headquarters to New York in 2004 from Asia, to eventually settle in Milan in 2011.
Exquisite fabrics have long defined the brand especially as Ports made a name for itself in Asia in the 90s. Precise construction is something the Cibani sisters understood and is a signature Cagalj maintains. The brand’s trousers and outerwear bring attention to Ports’ elegant tailoring and detailed shirting are showing what the brand does well without inundating the customer with so many fussy design elements. Cagalj definitely has the resume to up the cool factor at Ports – it may take a few more seasons for younger customers to get on board, but it’s happening slowly.