Whether it’s the jogger, the hybrid sneaker, technical outerwear or distressed denim, retailers pored through thousands of brands at more than six large shows here searching for products to excite their customers in the upcoming spring season. But some stores complained that the fashion message was diluted by the large number of shows and duplicative brands that filled the aisles.
“There are not enough hot items in the industry to support all these trade shows,” said Scott Collins, chief merchandising officer of Downtown Locker Room, an urban retailer based in Baltimore. “We’re not as brand-driven these days. We’re just looking for the best items at the best price with the best delivery so we can stay in stock.” These items include joggers, non-denim shorts and wild patterns that the young customer can mix and match at will. “They’re wearing plaids with polka dots and crazy shoes,” Collins said. “They have their own way of expressing themselves.”
The Doneger Group characterized it as “men’s wear minus boundaries.” Tim Bess, men’s fashion trend analyst, pointed to three key trends for the season:
• The crossover between the contemporary and streetwear markets in pieces such as updated sneakers, elongated tops and active-influenced bottoms.
• The “completer piece,” which is defined as everything from patterned socks and bracelets to lightweight technical outerwear and Neoprene hoodies.
• The rule breaker, where guys mix traditional tailored fabrics with mesh accents, joggers with sport coats and florals with stripes.
Bryan Reynolds, vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s for Scoop, said he was hunting for “any new brands and product not offered at the trade shows in New York.” He said that while the season’s buzziest item, the jogger, is “still relevant, I wonder how long the legs are.” He was also intrigued by the “new fabric combinations,” particularly technical fabrications, but wondered how best to communicate those attributes to the consumer. Mirrored sunglasses were also seen as a trend-right product.
“Our business is really good right now and we’re excited for fall,” he said. “Some product is already checking and denim is coming back in different washes. It’s something the customer doesn’t have.”
Wally Naymon of Kilgore Trout in Cleveland said current business is good, but remained cautious. “You can’t really trust anything. You can have a good day, a good week or a good month and that can be followed by a bad day, a bad week or a bad month. But lately, things have been percolating.”
Although Naymon was also looking for some key fashion pieces, he said sustainable business “takes more than a few items. You’ve got to have some big-ticket things mixed in, too.” He said that relying on specialty stores’ “best practices,” such as calling customers to let them know new merchandise has arrived, is essential, as is buying merchandise to appeal to a younger man. The items he was shopping for at the shows included accessories such as bracelets, socks, belts, jewelry, hats and sunglasses, which he viewed as opportunities “to enhance the ticket.”
Doug Ewert, chief executive officer of The Men’s Wearhouse Inc., was scouring the show for brands willing to partner with the retail chain exclusively. He pointed to the success of the company’s proprietary Joseph Abboud product, which already accounts for 13 percent of the chain’s overall business even though it has yet to roll out to all stores. “It’s been a huge home run for us,” he said. “So we’re looking for other partnerships like that. The exclusive brand and product strategy are really working well for us.”
At the shows, he said the merchandising team was also looking for “sweater opportunities for Men’s Wearhouse” as well as shoe and accessories brands for the Jos. A. Bank division.
SAINT PAUL, SHOWED AT THE TENTS @ PROJECT Designer/Aesthetic: The sportswear collection from Brussels-based designer Jungho Geortay offers an eclectic assortment of allover prints that are irreverent and fun, with patterns ranging from florals and geometrics to conversationals. His background includes stints at Kenzo and Jean Paul Gaultier. Price points: Shirts retail from $275 to $325 and shorts are $250 to $295. A printed anorak is $695 and T-shirts are $175. Worth a look because: The hand-drawn prints offer unexpected twists such as a traditional button-down shirt in a banker’s stripe updated with subtle modern tweaks.
CLOVER CANYON, AT PROJECT Designer/Aesthetic: After four years in the women’s wear business, Rozae Nichols is bringing his striking prints and streamlined silhouettes to the men’s wear market. The company’s signature patterns are used for bomber jackets, sweatshirts, oversize T-shirts, swimwear and pull-on pants. Price points: The collection opens at around $125, with the bulk retailing in the mid-$200s. Worth a look because: The digital prints are used on a variety of fabrications, including Neoprene, poplins or waffle knits, but the prices are commercial and accessible.
HAPPY SOCKS, AT PROJECT Designer/Aesthetic: Viktor Tell, designer and cofounder of the Stockholm-based brand, has teamed up with rapper and artist Snoop Dogg on a capsule collection of three styles that will launch on Nov. 1. Entitled “The Art of Inspiration,” Snoop Dogg has created a navy and white paisley, a “rasta-fari” pattern with a lion and a pot leaf, and a painterly version based on his own art. Price points: The box of three will retail for $40; individually, the socks will sell for $12. Worth a look because: The patterns are interesting and the collaboration is newsworthy and sure to create a buzz.
CABO D’MAR, AT MRKET Designer/Aesthetic: The handmade accessories collection from Portuguese designer Luis Filipe is inspired by the knots tied by sailors on ships. Although the line only had its start two years ago, its inspiration dates back 500 years when a Portuguese explorer fell overboard and was spared from death by attaching a rope from the boat’s stern to his wrist. The line is named after this legend: Cabo d’Mar, or “This is My Sea Rope.” Price points: The bracelets are priced from $50 to $60, and the label is moving into small leather goods and even polo shirts with rope detailing. Worth a look because: The braided leather bracelets with metal hardware or those from actual nautical rope in vivid colors are on trend in terms of material and graphic details.
RAINFOREST, AT MRKET Designer/Aesthetic: The outerwear company has branched out into swimwear as an add-on business for the spring season. Three categories are offered: Psychedigital, a collection of streetwear-inspired digital prints in fluorescent colors; Aquatropic, an assortment of water-based prints, including tropical flowers, fish and underwater caverns, and Flights of Fancy, earthy prints that mingle with tropical accents. There’s also a high-performance hybrid collection with models that look like dress shorts but are actually swim trunks. Price points: The collection ranges from $55 to $79. Worth a look because: The prints are innovative, as is the move to create additional business opportunities outside of the traditional outerwear season.
CHIEF TRUNK, AT CAPSULE Designer/Aesthetic: Designer and founder Konrad Duchek revived the venerable Oshkosh Trunk Co., a luxury travel goods brand founded in 1898. The new collection is manufactured in Brooklyn, N.Y., and offers 24-ounce coated yarn-dyed cotton canvas with the brand’s signature yellow and red stripe on everything from duffels, suitcases, messengers and soft briefcases to totes and beach bags. Updates include vegetable-tanned leather accents and brass hardware. Price points: The pieces open at around $200 and go up to $1,000. Worth a look because: The nearly indestructible collection not only looks good but has an authentic heritage that will appeal to today’s shopper.And it’s Made in the USA.
J. LINDEBERG, AT PGA EXPO Designer/Aesthetic: Fredrik Dahl has created a collection for the urban outdoorsman that features a modern aesthetic with an eye toward technology. The line would work as well on the city streets as on the links. Among the signature styles is a Euro-inspired polo with raglan colorblocking on the side and branding under the collar. Another standout item is a seam-sealed performance hooded golf jacket with a drop waist and cycling accents. Striped belts with crocodile details are also popular with consumers. Price points: Polos start at $70, while a modern baracuta jacket retails for $495. Belts are $95. Worth a look because: The European styling offers a unique perspective in the golfwear space.
QUIKSILVER ORIGINALS, AT LIBERTY Designer/Aesthetic: Three heritage styles based on the surf company’s original boardshort designs have been tweaked and reissued to appeal to today’s modern man. Lighter twills and stone washing are among the updates on the limited-edition pieces and several lengths are offered as well. The first is the Scallop, the iconic model introduced in 1969, that features a scalloped hem for greater movement when surfing. The Yoke, from 1971, offers a wide waistband that rides low on the hips, while The Arch, from 1981, includes checks and prints on a side panel. Price points: The suits retail for $90. Worth a look because: The heritage styling is on trend and the updates in material coupled with the variety of lengths make the collection appropriate for today.
DEFEND PARIS, AT LIBERTY Designer/Aesthetic: Jeremy Douay of the Paris-based gritty streetwear brand has moved beyond its signature T-shirts emblazoned with an assault rifle to lifestyle pieces, including sweatpants, varsity jackets, blazers and lambskin pants. The brand has become renowned for its collaborations with celebrities including Madonna, Zachary Quinto and Rihanna, who have teamed with the label for various causes they want to defend such as human rights, health care and gay rights. Price points: The T-shirts retail for $62, while the lambskin pants are $1,200. Worth a look because: The brand has acquired enormous buzz on social media as a result of its celebrity tie-ins.
ECOALF, AT LIBERTY Designer/Aesthetic: When Javier Goyeneche’s first child was born, he came up with the idea of producing a sustainable fashion brand that would use recycled products such as fishnets, tires, postindustrial cotton and plastic bottles to create quality apparel and accessories. The brand got its start with backpacks and has since moved into jackets, shoes, shirts, footwear and other products with contemporary styling. Price points: Jackets retail for $190 and up, while bags start at $155. Worth a look because: Its social message is important and its collection is stylish and relevant.
STUDIO ONE EIGHTY NINE, AT LIBERTY Designer/Aesthetic: Actress Rosario Dawson teamed with her friend Abrima Erwiah to create a collection of men’s and women’s wear to promote African culture. The duo travel often to Ghana and other African countries to line up resident artisans, designers and artists to create the collection of jumpsuits, shirts, sweatpants, bags and backpacks emblazoned with African prints that are hand-batiked and stamped. The brand made its wholesale debut for spring after selling online and through pop-ups with Urban Outfitters. Price points: Shirts sell for $190 and up, while jumpsuits are $225 and bags are around $150. Worth a look because: The celebrity tie-in is sure to create attention and the message is socially relevant.
PRPS, AT LIBERTY Designer/Aesthetic: Donwan Harrell, the founder and creative director of Prps, has created a mixed-media model for spring that uses natural indigo piercing on traditional Japanese selvage denim. The patchwork style of the design employs a blend of textures and colors to create an innovative item that will wash in a unique manner. It also uses a high number of stitches per inch for the repair of the jeans. Price point: The jean retails for $250. Worth a look because: The denizen of denim has created a unique item that could double as a work of art.
SURFSIDE SUPPLY CO., AT PROJECT Designer/Aesthetic: After close to seven years at Theory as its president of men’s, and five years at Nike as its vice president of global apparel and accessories, Chris Manley struck out on his own to create Surfside Supply Co. The brand is “urban surfwear” that works on the beach as well as the city streets and includes Japanese indigo-washed joggers, pullover sweaters and shirts. Price points: Polo shirts retail from $78, swim trunks start at $88. The indigo-dyed pullover shawl-collar sweater starts at $125 and joggers at $98. Worth a look because: The indigo washes mimic Japanese denim in a clever manner and the swim trunks in photographic prints are sleek and sophisticated yet lighthearted and fun.
HUDSON JEANS, AT PROJECT Designer/Aesthetic: For years, creative director Ben Taverniti has been serving up slim-fitting jeans that mold to a body in the form of the Byron jean. For spring, the brand will introduce the Skinny Collection, full of moto-style distressed denim with many zippers. It will also include a few joggers, hoodies, bomber jackets and more. Price points: The biker jean retails from $250 to $280. Jackets range from $220 to $240, with chinos at $174 and shorts at $145. Worth a look because: The Skinny Collection is sexy with its new silhouettes and brings a little edge with its moto-inspired distressing and overall cut.
REMI RELIEF, AT CAPSULE Designer/Aesthetic: The Japanese brand’s creative director, Yutaka Goto, has built a line based on American vintage-inspired apparel. The Tokyo-based collection offers easy breezy kits and Western-inspired denim, all lightly hand-distressed. Price points: T-shirts start at $125, denim shirts from $385, jacquard shirts at $370 to $380, and sweaters at $380. Worth a look because: Hand it to the Japanese to perfect the vintage American look. The entire collection is like a peek inside a Seventies time capsule, with each fitted T, indigo-dyed Western shirt and pair of shorts resembling wearable casual retro dresswear.
LAURENCEAIRLINE, AT CAPSULE Designer/Aesthetic: If Parisian chic ever met the whimsical heritage of the Ivory Coast, this line would be it. The collection started in 2010 and includes African tribal prints mixed with polka dots in shirts, shorts, trousers and other pieces. The line was started by Laurence Chauvin-Buthaud, who practices sustainable manufacturing at a workshop in the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan. Price points: Shirts for $93 and trousers for $332 to $437 at current exchange. Worth a look because: Aside from Chauvin-Buthaud employing a local workshop and creating jobs for several Ivory Coast citizens, the do-good line makes no compromises in construction or style.
STAPLE, AT AGENDA Designer/Aesthetic: The brand from New York City–based Jeff Ng, better known as jeffstaple, combines casual streetwear with a high-street sophistication. The line mixes subtle prints and mixed-media fabrics, namely tech, for a buttoned-up but dressed-down approach to streetwear. The line, founded in 1997, has collaborated with brands including Nike, New Balance and Timberland, among others. Price points: Hoodies range from $76 to $78, T-shirts from $36, shirts from $68 and outerwear averages $140 to $150. Worth a look because: The spring collection is an extension of the fall’s Lava Group line, which infused a lava fabric pattern with graphics inspired from the late Eighties and early Nineties. Technical fabrics blended with woven makes this streetwear label more fashion-forward than the printed cut and sew lines now prevalent in the market.
EZEKIEL, AT AGENDA Designer/Aesthetic: The traditional skate brand from Los Angeles has managed to bridge the gap between action sports and contemporary apparel. The new collection includes activewear that doubles as ready-to-wear, such as a striped woven button-up in soft, textured cotton. The line also offers a variety of denim joggers in a carrot silhouette with tapered cuffs. Price points: Shorts and boardshorts are $54, joggers range from $50 to $70, and tanks, shirts and hoodies start at $50. Worth a look because: Ezekiel now appeals to everyone from the teen to the professional in their late 30s with the elevated skate looks introduced in the past few seasons. Although still at heart a skate brand, it aims to attract a more fashion-forward customer base.
ELWOOD, AT AGENDA Designer/Aesthetic: The brand has embraced its L.A.–based roots to create a streetwear label with athletic-inspired fabrics. The brand makes bold statements with floral and paisley prints on jogger pants, shirts and button-ups, and uses scalloped hemlines in its shirts. Price points: Baseball jerseys range from $45 to $50, joggers start at $50, cotton T-shirts start at $30. Worth a look because: The brand is attempting to eliminate the seasonal fashion business model by offering the collection to the public as soon as it is shown. And because the manufacturing is done in-house, the brand can quickly offer items on a whim. Case in point: the spring line is now available on the Web site.
LIRA, AT AGENDA Designer/Aesthetic: The Southern California-based line offers a mix of surf, skate and streetwear influences with its mix of floral, Aztec, and charcoal prints, among others. Lira’s strength lies in the brand’s boardshorts, which incorporate two different prints seamlessly on one garment. Price points: T-shirts start at $30, woven shirts at $48, hoodies at $40 and boardshorts at $38. Worth a look because: The floral prints are used on a variety of apparel items, with a photo print blocked on bottoms such as boardshorts. The items use quick drying polyester tech fabrics for a more athletic appeal at commercially accessible prices.
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