By and  on January 20, 2011

Traffic was strong, the mood was upbeat and more than 250 brands were packed into the ENKNYC show. “People are really positive. Retailers are looking for new brands and aren’t as price sensitive,” said Vince Gonzales, owner of a showroom that sells the lines Café Bleu, The Stronghold denim and a licensed Steve McQueen T-shirt and sportswear collection.

Key trends at the show included nondenim bottoms, lots of knitwear with details such as toggle closures and outerwear with military details.

“Our price points are in a real sweet spot,” said Matteo Maniatty, director of sales at Original Penguin, showcasing a lamb’s wool sweater program in 12 colors that retails for $79.

Wool outerwear was the strongest seller at CPT by Cockpit USA, where a gray peacoat for $298 was the season’s hot item.

Scott James’ first collection under the brand’s new owners, Hampshire Group, offered an edited selection targeted to the more fashion-forward stores that tend to shop ENKNYC. Soft sport coats with elbow patches, chunky Nordic sweaters, woven shirts and lightweight outerwear were designed to bridge the gap between formal and casualwear.

Victorinox highlighted ripstop vests with a new earth-friendly PrimaLoft Eco fill, along with down-filled bomber jackets and performance knits. At Citizens of Humanity, a new denim with no starch offered the deep, dark look of raw denim with the softness and drape of washed fabrics. Also selling well at the jeansmaker were corduroys, twills and chinos. Over at 4 Stroke, canvas selvage jeans in a variety of colors were standouts, and the brand has a special program of higher-end denim launching at Bergdorf Goodman.

On the accessories end, designer Maor Cohen of M. Cohen has attracted celebrity buzz with his line of “earthy, urban and beachy” leather and silver jewelry for men. The company will open its first store on Third Street in Los Angeles next month.

The revamped Project show had a new upscale format, and though traffic was light at times, Project president Andrew Pollard called this season the start of a rebuilding stage for the once-dominant New York show.

“This is a collections-focused show and buyers can really sit and buy a line here,” said David Bruno, director of sales at Spurr, which previously showed at Capsule. Spurr, which is priced 30 to 40 percent lower than designer Simon Spurr’s collection label, showed officer’s coats, shearling jackets and Harris Tweed sport coats, along with its bread-and-butter line of clean, dark denim, which retails from $195 to $275.

The Brooklyn Circus was another standout at the show, with re-imagined varsity jackets, herringbone tweed cargo pants and retro newsboy caps. At Aether, seam-sealed, PrimaLoft-filled jackets with a minimalist aesthetic were ideal for outdoor enthusiasts seeking an elegant solution to staying warm and dry.

Ben Sherman introduced its new upscale Plectrum label, which features high-end fabrics, a discreet guitar-pick logo and prices 40 percent higher than the core collection. The company also pushed its new EC1 chino program (named after its London postal code), which included 12 colors.

Plain Jane Homme — known for its stripper-with-dropped-panties logo — showcased a streetwear line inspired by the colorful Holi festival of India, while Sweden’s WeSC emphasized a bigger push into outerwear, along with strong sales in its sharply priced denim line, which retails for $75 to $125. James Jeans relaunched its men’s business for fall after dropping the collection for a few seasons, with a clean lineup of classic five-pockets and twills and cords. Promising younger brands at the show included Feltraiger and General Assembly, both of which are based in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

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