The men’s wear industry continues to ride the wave of a younger generation eager to adopt a more dressed-up style — and an older one looking to update its wardrobes.
The Third Annual Fairchild Fashion Media Men’s Wear Summit at Asia House in New York addressed the trends driving today’s men’s wear sector, from the growing importance of social media and e-tailing to the New Man, from the Made in America movement to how retailers are rushing to cater to an increasingly demanding and savvy consumer. The designers who spoke — Thom Browne, Calvin Klein’s Kevin Carrigan and Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Opening Ceremony and Kenzo — focused on their individual styles — and the importance of staying true to their visions.
Here, some highlights of the summit:
• Thom Browne on his gray suit: “I wanted to create something that was timeless. That was really important. I had no interest in trends or creating something that was going to be there for a couple years and then rethink, ‘What do I want to do now?’ Because every collection, even as crazy as they are now, they always start from this gray suit.”
• Eric Jennings of Saks Fifth Avenue on how the 2008 financial crisis spurred the men’s wear boom: “It was a wake-up call to a lot of guys. They had to start interviewing again. It was a slap in the face.” To get a good job, it wasn’t good enough to have a strong résumé they also “needed to look polished and sophisticated and smart. That was the changing point.”
• Filson’s Maurizio Donadi on Made in America: “We have a social responsibility as brands to say something to the consumers that has meaning, that’s honest — delivering higher quality is very important. America is about utility, about building things that will last a long time. There’s no reason why in the United States we shouldn’t be building incredible companies.”
• Carol Lim on Opening Ceremony’s ethos: “Opening Ceremony is a company built on friendships. Friendships that allow for fun, creativity and crazy ideas hatched at 2 a.m. to thrive. And those relationships form a community, a strong and friendly community that is the core of Opening Ceremony.”
• J.C. Penney’s Nick Wooster on the retailer’s men’s wear and new Xerion line: “We do a really good job from 0 to 16 and then pick them back up at menopause. But we have a lot of wide-open opportunity and this is one of those brands that what will help us get there.”
• Doug Ewert of Men’s Wearhouse said the retailer can “profitably operate” 750 Men’s Wearhouse stores, and is “on track to open 30 stores a year” until it reaches that number. There is also opportunity to significantly grow its fledgling outlet division as well, where there are currently four stores in operation. Ewert said the company envisions at least 100 of these off-price units in outlet centers around the U.S.
• Calvin Klein’s Kevin Carrigan: “You have to have a point of view. Even when I worked with Calvin, before we had a better sportswear line, we talked a lot about going into that area and that segment. He was like, ‘I want to go into that area, but I need to have a point of view. What is our point of view in that area?’ I think for newer brands, the marketplace is saturated. There are plenty of clothes out there. So, what is your point of view?”
• Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist: “Now brands are unfiltered and are going after blogs because all they want is reaction. In the future, blogs will get better. We’re getting ready for a new generation of fashion communicators.”
• Durand Guion of Macy’s: “We believe at the heart of every modern man is a source of inspiration, not necessarily to be copied, but to awaken his inner confidence and link it to factors responsible for building the courage to represent himself in a stylish manner and begin breaking taboos.”
• Gucci’s Courtney Colavita: “Omnichannel or multichannel [are words that] don’t necessarily translate into e-commerce sales, but it’s a tool to learn and discover. It’s the present. It’s the future,” Colavita said. “Maybe you’re not using it now, but in 10 years, the kids growing up now, it’s how they consume information and fashion.”