Chris Morton is the co-founder and CEO of Lyst. Founded in 2010, 60 million shoppers used Lyst last year.
L: What do you seek?
CM: The first would have to be a pair of Kai Christensen paper knife armchairs. It was love at first sight. I’d seen them at an art fair in Berkeley Square that a friend of mine curates but we had bought a painting early on and couldn’t justify another large, unplanned expense. But after seeing the chairs I couldn’t get them out of my head for a month afterwards. You see it and think “that is a good looking chair” and then you sit in it and it has these beautiful rosewood arms that are so comfortable and calming.
The second would be a leather jacket. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that finding the best leather jacket fulfills the same dream for everyone. I think deep down we all want that James Dean rebel vibe, even if just a little bit. There are leather jackets that I want to like. I want to like a Rick Owens jacket but I know that it’s just not me. The leather is so beautiful but it’s an extreme cut. I had a beautiful leather jacket that no one has ever seen because I just never wear it. It was sitting there and I liked the idea of it but it was mine for ten years and I didn’t put it on. I bought it on a whim and I should have put more thought into it instead of convincing myself that it was a good idea. Now I need one that is the quality of a Rick Owens but more suited to me. I’m still early in the process. I don’t want anything that tries too hard or looks too new – it should look like it’s lived a life. I want to wear it all seasons because a great leather jacket is that classic investment piece.
I would also say running this business satisfies a lot of what I’m seeking. I think, in life, there are two things needed to be happy. I think love is one of those things and engagement and purpose in what you do is the other. That’s a big reason why I started my own thing instead of working for someone else. What we do at Lyst has continued to change as the business has grown. You get meaning from building a product, then you get meaning from building a business from that product and finally you get the most profound meaning from building a company made up of people with all these different ideas and you collate those all to lead in the right direction. That purpose is something I’m always seeking, and has been so fulfilling.
L: Tell us the lengths you’ve gone to in order to seek out an item that you had your heart set on
CM: Going back to the armchairs, I wasn’t looking for them. I saw them from across the room and they took my breath away. It was about the form and function. Not only were they beautiful to see, but they were a joy to sit in. I didn’t know much about the designer at that point, I just knew that they were for me.
I didn’t want to spend more than I had to on them, and I looked online for over a month until I finally found the exact pair I wanted on a Facebook page for a company based out of Malmo Sweden. Even with the shipping it was half the cost of buying them from a dealer in London. Smart shopping is satisfying, I knew it was a scandinavian design so shipping it from the region made more sense. Nothing beats the feeling of finding and getting that exact thing that you want.
I feel the same about Margiela knitwear. I would say I’m a bit gangly so it’s hard to find a medium sweater with long arms. Once I’ve found it, I’m sold- form and function again. I will always turn to Margiela for my sweaters now, I don’t need to look anywhere else.
L: What’s the main consideration you have when buying something new?
CM: If I boiled it down what I want to avoid is the disconnect. I might love the brand but not the product. Or love the product and not the brand. I need to love both.
I’m not trend-driven; I like to buy things I will have for a while. I have some pieces that I still wear that I bought a decade ago. Their quality still speaks to me, and I can see myself owning them for a very long while to come. I would say, too, always be cautious during sales periods. It can be tempting to buy something that isn’t you just because it’s a steal. I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and I keep that in mind before bringing anything new into the house or my wardrobe.
L: What are you seeking next? Something you already know you want but don’t have yet
CM: Glasses. When I was 15 I bought a pair of boring, functional spectacles. I hate the way they look but they work perfectly as glasses. They’re comfortable and easy. Since then I’ve bought more interesting frames but every pair has given me headaches. It comes back to form and function.
I bought a beautiful pair of antique frames from Brooklyn flea but after having the lenses fitted, it wasn’t until after a day of wear that I realised they give me a headache. That’s definitely the never-ending search I hope to solve next. Maybe by the time I read this interview it’ll be with my new frames.
Lyst is a global fashion search engine that connects you with the world’s biggest inventory of luxury fashion items in one place, helping you find the right item, in the right size, at the right price.