NEW YORK — The summer doldrums have hit the men’s retail business, but merchants in town for New York Market Week are expecting sales to heat up when the temperatures drop.
With the Fahrenheit hitting triple digits in many parts of the country over the past several weeks, retailers have seen their sales slip as shoppers were more likely to hit the beaches or mountains than their local stores. But some early-fall goods have begun to garner interest among more fashion-conscious men, leading stores to be upbeat about their prospects for fall.
Many independent retailers were in New York this week to shop the trade shows, including Project, MRket, Capsule and the newest addition, Liberty, for spring goods. And they found plenty to buy. From soft sport coats and colored pants to unusual accessories such as silver-handled umbrellas and slim backpacks, buyers left plenty of paper. RELATED STORY: New York Markets Offer Sun, Sand and Sophistication for Spring >>
For Ken Giddon, president of New York City-based Rothmans, the key to bringing in business during the summer is to “create events.” The store recently installed a pop-up shop for Rebecca Minkoff, followed by another for Rodd & Gunn. In September, Herschel bags will replace that. “It creates noise and business,” he said. “It’s been a lesson for me — we have to give people a reason to buy.”
Giddon said sale merchandise at his store has been selling well. “We beat last year even through the heat wave because we had a lot of stuff going on. I can’t believe people were buying suits when the temperature was 100 degrees. So the macro picture may not be tremendous, but you’ll do well if you’re on your game.”
Giddon said he’s confident that fall sales will be strong. “The economy is certainly stronger than this point last year,” he said.
A trade show junkie, Giddon said he hit every show in New York by riding a Citi Bike between the venues, where he uncovered lots of interesting product. “The T-shirt companies went through a slump, but now they’re back,” he said, singling out Tailgate, Retro Sport and Sportif as among the most interesting. On the other extreme, he liked the tailored clothing offerings from Jack Victor. “The line looked really strong,” he said. “And with the whole situation with Joseph Abboud and Men’s Wearhouse, somebody has got to step up.” As reported, Men’s Wearhouse last week acquired the Joseph Abboud brand from its private equity owner and will take it out of the wholesale market after this season.
Giddon also liked the offerings at Peerless Clothing, which has it own Tallia label in addition to licensed products from Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY and others, and singled out Camplin, a line of Italian outerwear, as another standout. Andrew Marc’s Denim & Leathers, Benson, Jachs and Gant, along with Ben Minkoff’s bags, were also on his list. “There was an upbeat, creative vibe at the shows, but without a lot of the silly stuff that isn’t wearable,” he said.
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