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MILAN — The shows here further boosted the confidence of international men’s wear buyers, delivering a range of strong, modern, summery, colorful and print-heavy collections.
This story first appeared in the June 28, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I think the message is clear that sportswear and separate jackets are driving business, apart from knits and wovens. There was a very strong presentation on tailoring, but it was decidedly more focused on separates,” said Tom Kalenderian, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s wear at Barneys New York. Designers were focusing on putting forward collections that differentiate spring from fall, he noted.
“Designers used the runway to speak to the lightness of fabrics, beautiful colors, especially blues, every shade from navy to sapphire to a beautiful Mediterranean Capri blue or a brighter Yves Klein blue; blue is by far the most important color.”
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“A very nice week, very fresh, a real summer season full of color, with touches of humor,” echoed Tancrède de Lalun, gmm for men’s and women’s apparel at Printemps. “The spring man is an elegant playboy of sorts, who wants to wear a nice jacket, beautiful shoes…”
“Designers are taking chic to another level, infusing sophisticated color pairings in sportswear and clothing. Gucci was a great example of this. The terrific styling of the show demonstrated how a man can wear such bold color or prints in a strong and masculine way,” commented Matthew Singer, men’s fashion director, Neiman Marcus Stores, Neiman Marcus Direct and Bergdorf Goodman. “Color continues to be a driving force for men. The bright colors are very exciting, especially in pants.”
Other key spring colors included Bordeaux, red, tobacco brown, pine green and mustard.
“I think Milan is moving in a very modern direction, which I like. Traditionally, Milan has been more classically oriented and I see it really moving ahead with experimental tailoring, it has a really modern feel right now to me,” said Eric Jennings, men’s fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue, who mentioned the bomber jacket among key items for spring.
Prints were rife, as were metallics, which surfaced on everything from shirts and outerwear to accessories, though retailers expect the shiny trend will take a year or two to trickle down to guys on the street.
David Wakely, divisional merchandise manager of men’s wear for Lane Crawford, found the Milan season full of theater and surprise. “There has been a sense of confidence that was not evident in previous seasons. From the return of Jil Sander showing a collection of bold color and graphics, the sophistication of Burberry Prorsum’s sharp tailoring and metallics, to the showmanship of Dolce & Gabbana’s Sicilian boys and Versace’s gladiators, there is much excitement, with men’s wear more playful than before. Men are dressing up and showing off,” he said.
Jil Sander, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Burberry Prorsum, Emporio Armani, Bottega Veneta, Belfast, Z Zegna and Trussardi were among the collections that received wide praise from buyers.
Several of them applauded Sander’s debut effort back in the driver’s seat of her namesake brand. “I thought the runway was very modern and showed a definite power of this designer coming back into control of the brand,” said Barneys’ Kalenderian. “Going to the showroom, looking at the clothes up close, I thought that the fabrics were exquisite and there was a definite change in production, especially for the tailored clothing, where she upgraded product and silhouette and feel, the level of luxury is superb.”
Prada’s collection was equally as impressive, he said. “The textiles you saw on the runway were actually natural, it’s a double cotton, with a double-face construction, it had so much body and a soft, cashmere touch. The conceptual appearance was very modern and graphic, the clothes are very luxurious.…This was, I think, a very good example of Prada at its best.”
Here’s more of what buyers had to say:
Toby Bateman, buying director, MrPorter.com
Sound off: “It was the first season that I managed to stay out of the bar at the Principe and I am very happy for it. I could see the collections particularly clearly this season.”
Trendspotting: “Double-breasted suits and jackets remain a key trend. Trousers are slim, for the most part, and were often finished a little short with a turned-up ankle. Otherwise, we saw trousers with pleats, and tapered at the hem. The ‘short’ suit is definitely here (both on and off the runway). Silk fabrications were evident, which goes hand-in-hand with the opulence of the continuing prints trend. In formalwear, we saw tuxedos of all varieties being shown in black and white, of wool and silk. The Fifties seemed to be an inspiration for the color palette and the shapes we saw.”
David Wakely, dmm of men’s wear, Lane Crawford
Sound off: “The overall mood in men’s wear right now is one of confidence and positivity. There are lots of commercial looks to get behind, which will allow us to present the best offer for men’s wear.…In terms of brand mix and offer, we’re looking for exclusivity and uniqueness, newness for our fashion savvy Asian market.”
Trendspotting: “Modern tailoring was key — whether the…34-length sleeveless topcoats at Jil Sander or the neat, slim suiting at Neil Barrett and Burberry Prorsum. The double-breasted blazer has been reinterpreted differently, which is refreshing.”
Tom Kalenderian, executive vice president and gmm of men’s wear, Barneys New York
Trendspotting: “A lot of the trends were driven by cloth, a lot of cloth development and double-faced fabrics. Unlined is an important trend in outerwear and tailoring. Contrast color. And in shirting there’s quite a bit of print. They’re either micro designs that remind you of Macclesfield or Spitalfields designs from textile mills, or you see big splashes of pattern in a floral motif.”
Tancrède de Lalun, general merchandise manager for men’s and women’s apparel, Printemps
Trendspotting: “For shoes, the slipper or tasseled moccasin, often worn with summer socks. Prints were major, with allover prints and a lot of kinetic designs.”
Jeffrey Kalinsky, executive vice president of designer merchandising, Nordstrom
Sound off: “Spring ’13 feels optimistic. Our customers are asking for more brands and bolder fashion, so spring will be a great season for us, and our budgets will be bigger.”
Trendspotting: “Lots of bold colors anchored in white or khaki. Military green also looked beautiful. Safari jackets were plentiful, usually in classic linen. Voluminous shorts (and shorts in general) were everywhere in all fabrications, even leather.”
Eric Jennings, men’s fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue
Trendspotting: “Almost every kind of print, whether it’s florals, tropical, little medallion prints, chinoiserie, exploded tropical. Footwear is another hot topic right now. The brogue continues, but it’s not your father’s brogue. There are many variations — mixed media, casual, dressy. Then there’s soft footwear, going from basketweaves and plays on the espadrille, to mesh, perforation and color. Color in footwear is very strong. The sneaker seems to be making a return to the catwalk this season and Salvatore Ferragamo just nailed it.”
Matthew Singer, men’s fashion director, Neiman Marcus Stores, Neiman Marcus Direct and Bergdorf Goodman
Sound off: “Despite the temperature being a little too warm at times, the energy was high and the vibe positive.”
Trendspotting: “Prints, with a focus on shirts. Short-sleeve is going to be important for us. Loving the lightweight blouson for next season, it’s a retro style done in a modern way. In accessories, it’s definitely in soft constructed bags and portfolios.”
Tiziana Cardini, fashion director, La Rinascente
Sound off: “It was a good week, all shows were interesting from a design standpoint and were a guidance for the market. The collections were classy, yet with an easy style, they veered either toward formalwear with a sense of ease, or sportswear with a sense of elegance and luxury, which is what the Made in Italy production is all about.”
Trendspotting: “Color, which showed an energetic attitude, a positive response to the moment. New proportions for suits, with short double-breasted jackets and short, tight pants or Bermuda shorts.”
Kevin Harter, vice president of fashion for men’s and home for Bloomingdale’s
Sound off: “The Milan collections will really resonate with our Bloomingdale’s customers.”
Trendspotting: “It was all about beautiful color palettes and textured fabrics. Garment dying, sun-faded patterns and indigo treatments all played a role. We see a bigger push on some trends that we are currently having success with: double-breasted blazers, printed batik wovens and linen-cotton blends all played a role. Also the infusion of active-inspired looks in many collections will be a big opportunity for us.”
Darren Skey, head of men’s wear, Harvey Nichols
Sound off: “Usually, when you see Milan and then you see Paris, Paris is the more exciting of the two. But there was some really good theater this year in Milan — especially from Dolce & Gabbana and Versace. Burberry Prorsum has been quite sedate over the past seasons, but we saw some really great colors coming down the catwalk, as well as lots of strong metallic. Neil Barrett was really strong, especially the varsity jackets, cool baseball tops and an off-white tuxedo at the end. And we loved McQueen. It was absolutely beautiful — the best collection in the past two to three years. They have really elevated it, and it’s one of the strongest brands at the store. We loved the embroidery and the dragonfly tuxedo.”
Trendspotting: “Shorts on the catwalk for work and play and with tailored jackets. Blousons and bombers — we saw some beautiful blousons from Prorsum — and lots of cropped trousers. One trend is worrying for me — sandals and socks. I think it’s tongue in cheek, a play on the look. I think sandals on their own will work, though. Footwear on the catwalks was really strong this season.”
Jason Broderick, gmm of men’s wear and watches, Harrods
Sound off: “We thought it was a very strong season with great collections from Ermenegildo Zegna and Gucci. Both showed a more masculine man and more consumer-friendly collections. We loved Fendi and we thought McQueen was outstanding.”
Trendspotting: “Minimalism was quite important, and we saw very clean looks from Jil Sander and Prada; pastels, neon, and sandals to complement all the shorts.”
Rosy Biffi, owner of Biffi Boutique, Milan
Sound off: “Except for a few shows, I had the impression that the collections were a bit too fashion-forward for market taste. All the companies gave their best in terms of research and professional expertise, but sometimes they failed to meet buyers’ needs.”
Trendspotting: “Double-breasted jackets, slim fits, revisited classics. “
Adam Kelly, buying manager of men’s designer, formal and accessories, Selfridges
Sound off: “I was quite excited about Milan — it was a good week. Milan is kind of back. The fashion and trends of today suit Milan — in the sense that there is a lot of simplicity, and the print angle lends itself to brands like Gucci. It was about futuristic modernity, simple in its aesthetic. Our budgets are not decreasing, and will increase where relevant.”
Trendspotting: “Metallics — I wasn’t expecting them, and I don’t know where they came from. Constructed satin and silk jackets and trousers, and printed jackets, shirts and trousers. Modernity — the clothes were about now and about the future.”