Men’s wear designer Steven Cox of Duckie Brown has a pipe dream about women’s wear. The plot plays out a lot like the Tilda Swinton film “Orlando”: Swinton starts off as a man and, centuries later, becomes a woman. “I have this secret fantasy that Duckie Brown will turn organically into a women’s line without anybody knowing it,” Cox explains. In reality, he and his partner Daniel Silver are in talks to develop a lower-priced line, which would include both men’s and women’s. Though no date has been set, they’re aiming for fall 2010.
Though it’s hardly a new idea — after all, Ralph Lauren started by peddling neckties — quite a few men’s designers have recently tossed their hats into the distaff ring. Kris Van Assche, Band of Outsiders’ Scott Sternberg and Obedient Sons’ Swaim and Christina Hutson already have women’s lines. Daiki Suzuki of Engineered Garments and Fraser Moss and Jimmy Collins of YMC launched women’s collections for fall ’08, while spring ’09 saw the debut of women’s from Endovanera, the relaunch of the category by Gilded Age (after an earlier failed effort) and expanded, full collections from both Oliver Spencer and Nice Collective. Simon Spurr and Michael Bastian are also contemplating the move, Bastian saying it’s not a matter of if but when.
Why the sudden surge? One reason is that, with the economy tanking, companies are trying to tap new turf. “The men’s market is quite small compared to the women’s,” says Marcus Wainwright of Rag & Bone. “I mean, there’s a reason there are more women’s fashion magazines. The men’s opportunity from a business perspective is not that big unless you’re in a mass arena like J. Crew.” Rag & Bone’s women’s line, launched in 2005, three years after the company’s debut, now accounts for 70 percent of overall sales.
“It comes down to brand awareness,” says Spurr. “It’s much easier to establish a brand if you have a women’s arm to it.” And, some note, it’s easier to break into women’s from the men’s arena than as a complete start-up. “The competition for women’s is probably tenfold,” says Endovanera’s Mitch Moseley. “I imagine it would be quite difficult to launch a women’s line now from the ground up.”
Indeed, the fact that women are familiar with, and interested in, a men’s label is often cited as an advantage. “It was a smart transition for a lot of these designers,” says Paul Birardi, who co-owns the Manhattan men’s boutique Odin with Eddy Chai (brother of Richard). “You would see women coming into our store and actually trying to get an extra small or a double-extra small.” Recently, the two opened Pas de Deux, their first women’s outlet, on East 11th Street; many of the pieces they stock are by designers who also sell to Odin. “The women [we know] were a bit alienated by the overly feminine offerings in the market, and we wanted to provide another window,” says Nice Collective’s Joe Haller.
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)