Ruth and Tom Chapman: Mix and Matches

At home—as in life— founders Ruth and Tom Chapman are all about unexpected combinations.


Strike a Match Ruth and Tom Chapman have never been afraid to blaze a trail. In 1987, when they opened their first clothing boutique, Matches, in Wimbledon, the leafy London suburb was known almost exclusively for its tennis club. But after the Chapmans, in quick succession, added a Max Mara store, a men’s wear shop, and the first Diane von Furstenberg boutique outside the United States to their mini retail empire, the village—which they still call home—emerged as a true shopping destination. “We’ve always thought first about our customers,” Ruth says. “And we knew that we’d have customers in Wimbledon, because that’s where we lived and what we knew. The rest happened pretty organically.” In 1999, the couple debuted a second, bigger Matches, in central London, and it quickly became the place to shop. More locales, plus an online store, followed. The first retailer in the U.K. to carry Prada, Matches pioneered the idea of mixing pieces by young, edgy, often unknown designers with more classic ones by the big names.

Full House Though they regularly host dinners for visiting designers—Adam Lippes was a recent guest of honor—the Chapmans’ large 1836 Victorian house is more family home than showpiece. They bought the place—which they share with their three children and two often-underfoot dogs—in 2005, because they loved its garden, which unfortunately fell victim to renovations. Happily, the grounds are now back in bloom thanks to Chris Beardshaw, one of Britain’s most acclaimed landscape designers. Inside, the rooms are filled with Ruth and Tom’s ever-expanding trove of treasures. Both are magpie-esque collectors: Tom takes what he describes as a “passionate and nerdish approach” to midcentury furniture, having bought Gio Ponti tables, chairs by Gabriella Crespi, and a unique Vladimir Kagan prototype. Ruth, meanwhile, is attracted to everything from seashells to aboriginal artifacts. “I’d describe it as push and pull,” she says of merging their aesthetics. A modern étagère, for example, is filled with Greek and Roman artifacts, while 1960s Sputnik lights illuminate works by Chris Ofili. They recently hired an interior designer, Tom says, “to make sure it doesn’t look like a car crash of stuff.”

Arbiter of Style Ruth, the eye behind the Matches look, is famously stylish herself. At 53, she is tall and willowy, with a mane of distinctive gray hair. “I can go quite masculine,” she says of her wardrobe. “I love a shirt, trouser, and blazer. On holiday and during downtime, I’ll feminine up. I’m evolving and adapting my look as I get older.” Figuring things out, sartorially, is the Chapmans’ speciality. They recently became chairs of the company and rechristened the whole operation—website and brick-and-mortar stores alike. They often collaborate directly with designers on exclusives, like the Mary Katrantzou alphabet tote that became a must-have last year. Online, they stock more than 400 designers, including Raey, their own brand of luxurious basics. They’ve even enlisted stylists, who are available on the site to help customers navigate the many choices. The goal, Tom says, is to create a truly global business—albeit one that remains firmly grounded in Wimbledon.

Photos: Ruth and Tom Chapman: Mix and Matches

Tom and Ruth Chapman, in their garden.

A Stella McCartney event. Courtesy of

A look from the Raey fall 2015 line. Courtesy of

A Preen Line dress from a capsule collection exclusive to A Preen Line dress from a capsule collection exclusive to Courtesy of

Ruth and Lippes, at a luncheon in his honor.

A fashion presentation in New York. Courtesy of

The picture layout in the bathroom was designed by the interior designer Rita Konig.

The couple, with designer Joseph Altuzarra, celebrating a collaboration in 2014. Courtesy of

The garden at the Chapman residence.

The exterior of the Chapmans’ home. Courtesy of Tony Murray Photography.

Models at the Adam Lippes 2015 event at the Chapmans’. Courtesy of

A floral arrangement in the sitting room.

Jimi Hendrix presides over the media room.

The store in Wimbledon, England. Courtesy of

The launch of Malone Souliers at Courtesy of

The sofa is by Axel Vervoordt, and the table is a 1970s find from a local antiques fair.

Issue 5 of the store’s biannual print magazine, The Style Report. Courtesy of

The smiley-face sculpture in the sitting room is by Ryan Callanan.

A Mary Katrantzou bag from another exclusive collaboration. Courtesy of

The Chapmans’ kitchen. Courtesy of

An illustration of the original Matches store. Courtesy of

An arrangement of shoes at the Charlotte Olympia Cosmic Collection launch event. Courtesy of

In the Chapmans’ sitting room, a Black Tulip lamp by Marianna Kennedy, and Gifted Hands, a painting by Gabriela Trzebinski.