Some men's wear brands to check out at the upcoming shows.

ARGYLECULTURE


Russell Simmons is nothing if not committed to ArgyleCulture.

The hip-hop mogul first came up with the concept in 2007 and, over the course of the next seven years, it has gone through a number of iterations as its manufacturing partner shifted from Kellwood Co. to LF USA to HMX Group. Back-office and delivery issues haunted the brand as it was footballed around the industry, but through it all, Simmons’ concept for the line has remained crystal clear.

“It’s for the urban graduate, it’s always been for the urban graduate,” he said. “There’s a hole in the market big enough to drive a truck through and I have a natural inclination to design in this space.” Simmons was among the first to embrace the urban hip-hop craze with his Phat Farm label.

Glen Farraye, president of Simmons Design Group, said after HMX Group dissolved at the end of 2012, ArgyleCulture joined forces with Peerless Clothing, which is producing the tailored clothing, and the Toronto-based Caulfeild Apparel, which is doing the sportswear.

“Despite all the hiccups, we never lost sight of the customer,” Farraye said. “We knew there was a huge opportunity if we could get the back-end right.” Under its current licensees, production and distribution are no longer a problem. “They know what they’re doing,” he added. This frees up Simmons and his team to focus on design and selling, and Simmons himself will be at the MRket show in Las Vegas to introduce the line to retailers.

ArgyleCulture had a small test for this spring, and the fall collection is about to hit stores. For spring, Farraye said the collection is “tight, very defined” and will include a small navy argyle signature pattern on the inside of the garments “to pull it all together. It’s not a distraction, it’s only on the interior as a little accent trim,” he said.

Key pieces for the season include — no surprise — colorful argyle sweater-vests, as well as solid and patterned polos; khaki shorts; long- and short-sleeve button-down shirts, and fitted tailored blazers.

“We’re very close to street, but we don’t overdo it,” Simmons said. “Young guys are wearing bow ties, dress shirts, skinny jeans and MacAlister boots, and we speak squarely to them.”

The line is carried in Macy’s, a long-time proponent of the label, along with Belk and Bon-Ton. At these stores, it’s merchandised as a modern traditional line targeted to the Millennial customer, Farraye said. Prices are sharp, with most of the shirts, sweaters and shorts retailing for $68. Blazers are $150, long ties and bow ties are $59 to $69, and pocket squares are $25 to $35. Farraye noted that although ArgyleCulture is “item-intensive, it’s a collection. Every item can stand on its own. And the look of the line is a very defined city lifestyle.”

With Simmons’ distinctive touch.

“I’m not a celebrity brand,” Simmons said. “I’m a designer. My twist is subtle, but important and I feel compelled to fill the space. If I don’t do it, no one will.”

— Jean E. Palmieri

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