By  on July 7, 2011

PARIS — A relaxed, vintage feel was almost omnipresent at the recent men’s apparel trade shows here, with Eighties surf-inspired items with a twist surfacing as core pieces for several key buyers.

The ambience at all three shows was upbeat, with strong traffic across the board, even from Japan. “It has been very dynamic,” Tranoï organizer Michael Hadida said.

Richard Johnson, men’s wear buying manager for Harvey Nichols, said: “We’re increasing our budget for the International Designers and Accessories by strong double digits as customers continue to react really positively to designers who deliver quality craftsmanship in their product and a very distinct and identifiable point of view. Trendwise, we’re looking for innovative use of color and print to create an upbeat mood and to keep the shop floor looking really vibrant.”

Bloomingdale’s vice president of men’s fashion Kevin Harter cited graphic tank tops from California brand Warriors of Radness as key items for spring.

“Since Bloomingdale’s has a strong California presence it was great seeing collections like Warriors of Radness and Lighting Bolt offer great surf-inspired collections and plenty of new items to invest in,” Harter said. “We are coming off a strong spring season, so we are capitalizing more on trends we want to get behind from our existing matrix. I really felt there was a lot of excitement with color and new items from Norse Projects, Burkman Bros., Riviera Club and YMC, who all showed at Capsule.”

Warriors of Radness’ blue palm tree jacquard tank top, priced at $34 wholesale, was a key seller, according to operations manager Bill Hebner. “Tank tops are going crazy this year,” he added.

Indeed, new, vibrant shades of blue were visible across the shows. “There is this shade of blue, between French and royal, that is gorgeous,” Saks Fifth Avenue vice president and men’s fashion director Eric Jennings said. “It was everywhere on the runways, and it really jumps out at you.” He said unusual shades of blue also attracted him at the trade shows. Other key themes he spotted were ethnic and tropical prints and straw hats.

At Rendez-Vous Homme, quirky straw hats from Swiss brand LeTom were standout items. In fact, straw hats were a key item on several buyers’ shopping lists, and LeTom’s trilby-shaped tops coupled with cap-style visors brought a point of difference.

The brand’s Sazeroc Dark panama straw model, priced at 105 euros wholesale, or $152 at current exchange, and its Goldwand straw model, made with a traditional Swiss technique, priced at 180 euros, or $260, attracted particular attention, sales manager Tom Hellak said.

Also at Rendez-Vous, tailored shirts with pattern details from British brand Empire’s Union attracted buyers. The brand is distributed primarily in Japan, as well as at H. Lorenzo in Los Angeles, and is in discussions with Flannels in the U.K., designer Pete Macdonald said.

The offer at Tranoï, meanwhile, was less casual than at the other shows. “I like Tranoï because it is more directional,” Saks’ Jennings said.

Just to the left of the entrance, Diesel Black Gold’s latest collection was prominent. The brand saw interest from Saks Fifth Avenue and Harvey Nichols, sales director Simon Whitehouse said. Key sellers included a gray waxed cotton jacket with a red, asymmetric zipper, priced 136 euros wholesale, or $197, and Superbia jeans in lavender blue, priced 96 euros, or $139, he added.

Buyers also liked knitwear from South Korea’s General Idea and Japan’s Side Slope, as well as hats from Japan’s CA4LA.

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