By and and  on June 23, 2010

MILAN — In a season of anniversaries, Italian men’s wear designers continued to reference their archives while simultaneously moving fashion forward.

“The best shows were the ones where designers started innovating again,” said Richard Johnson, men’s wear buying manager for Harvey Nichols. “Past seasons have focused so much on heritage, but this season, the best shows experimented with color, fabric and form.”

Overall, the mood was upbeat. Buyers said they were working with budgets that had increased in the single digits, adding more chic sportswear to their offerings.

“It’s not about dressing down the suit, it’s about dressing up the sportswear,” said Holt Renfrew’s Lanita Layton, vice president and general merchandise manager for men’s and men’s footwear.

Tailoring grabbed its share of attention, too. “If there is one new item I think a guy should add to his wardrobe, it would be a double-breasted jacket. It looks really fresh when it’s trimmer, shorter and rumpled up,” said Nick Wooster, men’s fashion director of Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus.

Standout collections included Bottega Veneta, Burberry Prorsum, Etro, Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Ermenegildo Zegna and Moncler, executives said.

Here is what buyers had to say about the Milan collections for spring.

Tom Kalenderian, executive vice president and gmm, men’s, Barneys New York: “As with fall, it was a more commercial approach with some collections than in the past. Oftentimes they miss on fabric. Our climate is different from what they think they’re designing for. But in a sense, I think they achieved a strong lightness in feeling. From a commercial standpoint, the fabric weights were especially focused on lightness, which is critically important. I liked the use of linen. It was very layered and textured so you didn’t see skin through it. And I loved the freshness of the white. There’s a lot of monochrome with all white or all navy, which I thought looked very fresh. I really loved Bottega Veneta. Tomas Maier did a very good job coming up with truly spring-summer apparel, and it felt young in spirit.”

Jason Broderick, men’s wear gmm, Harrods: “We are looking for newness in brands — now is the time to invest. We are confident in the men’s market. We have seen some great successes and continue investing more in open-to-buy. We have increased our budget for spring. Consumer confidence has definitely returned, particularly in tailoring at a premium level. Designer wear has the most desirability from our consumer. In terms of the fashion message, there was a great spin on the Seventies with a jive feel. Burberry, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana continued to deliver with very strong staple collections true to their DNA. Jackets were prevalent across the board as this part of the business is growing as an item piece. Double-breasted jackets made a stronger presence in this season’s collections. Sportswear was high on the agenda, such as at Moncler. Pop colors like at Z Zegna made a statement, but palettes waded toward the Arizona landscape of muted tones.”

Tancrède de Lalun, gmm, women’s and men’s apparel, Printemps: “Overall, it wasn’t a great season. Houses seemed to do their own thing. Each had a very different story. The jacket as a single item was the strongest statement. Suits were less important. The look is less dramatic, more cool. The highlight was Prada, which was magnificent and really offered something new. Dolce & Gabbana put on a fantastic show. We are increasing our budget, albeit slightly. Consumer confidence has returned and we are optimistic, even despite the current economic climate. We are also saving for replenishments in case the season goes very well.”

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