Capsule Courts Contemporary Crowd

Capsule was bigger than ever this season — hosting 175 brands in a 75,000-square-foot ballroom at The Venetian.

View Slideshow

Capsule was bigger than ever this season — hosting 175 brands in a 75,000-square-foot ballroom at The Venetian — attracting designer names like Hugo Boss, Spurr, Carlos Campos and Billy Reid, along with trendy premium labels such as Unis, Orthodox Clothing, Nicholas K and April 77.

This story first appeared in the February 25, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

But with Project moving from The Venetian to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, foot traffic at Capsule was somewhat lighter.

“I think we had less curious onlookers than last season, due to the Project move. But Capsule is a destination show for serious buyers of our brands,” said Edina Sultanik, a partner in Capsule, adding the show has no plans to move location next season. “We had all the major department stores and top-tier boutiques come through. They know they can’t find our brands anywhere else in Las Vegas.”

Hugo Boss brought its Hugo and Boss Orange labels to Capsule for the first time, in an effort to reach more independent specialty stores. Boss Orange tapped a new designer, Eyan Allen, last year and the fall collection featured a vintage New York theme — along with lower prices, in consideration of the challenging retail climate. Shirts were priced to retail for $125 instead of the previous $155, while washed chinos were $105, down from $125.

Price was also a selling point at Acne Pop Classics, a range from Sweden’s Acne brand. Launched last year, Pop Classics’ fall collection featured a “South American romantic cowboy” theme, such as Inca prints on sweaters, velvet chaps attached to jeans and cropped blazers. Shirts in the collection retail for $169, waxed denim for $199, sweatshirts for $149 and knits for $189.

“This line is a great way to reach middle markets like Chicago. It creates exposure for the brand and introduces it to more consumers,” said Justin Warren, North American sales manager at Want Agency, which sells the brand here.

For the modern-day dandy, Gentry exhibited neckwear kits, with each set including a sartorial combo of a tie, tie clip, tie pin, collar clip and pocket square — all carefully matched for style. Each set, packaged in a wooden box, retails for $225 to $250. “Our generation wasn’t taught to wear these accessories and we want to bring them to younger guys,” said Greg Sato, who founded the line with partner Annie Imamura.

For hat enthusiasts, Stetson debuted its new Albertus Swanepoel collection. The designer was inspired by the company’s archives and drew upon its heritage to create a collection of “funky, unisex looks,” said U.S. sales director Grant Bloodworth. The silhouettes were primarily classic but Swanepoel tweaked them by adding colorful linings or other details, with prices at around $100 wholesale.

Nike Sportswear focused on its most technical pieces at the show, including items from the ACG Pendleton collaboration as well as sophisticated bonded laser-cut jackets featuring Gore-Tex fabrics.

Isaora, which has roots in snowboarding, expanded the fusion of fashion and function for fall. Founder and designer Marc Daniels kept the colorways dark but didn’t deviate from the brand’s snowboarding background. For example, leather jackets featured panels of Schoeller’s PCM (Phase Change Material) that helps regulate body temperature. Wool-blend plaid jackets with a down lining could be worn on or off the mountain.

Frank Rivera, owner of Concepts, a specialty store in Cambridge, Mass., liked the “refined and cleaner” looks he found at Capsule, saying the brands there would appeal to both the youth market as well as older customers. With the recession slowing business, he is moving the store toward more “lifestyle” merchandise. “The shelf life for brands is short so we’re carrying more classics that can stand the test of time,” he explained.

South Korean label Beyond Closet was a favorite of Jackie Nguyen, men’s buyer at Seattle’s Zebraclub, who praised its sophisticated outerwear. She also noted a trend towards more nondenim bottom options this season. “There were more twills, chinos, khakis and corduroys, in very earthy, muted tones, as well as navys and blacks,” she noted.

Elegant wool trousers with a touch of bagginess were on view at Dana Lee, a new label codesigned by Lee and Corey Gomberg, the former designer of the men’s label Bureau. The collection also included riffs on a chief petty officer (CPO) shirt and military-style N1 jacket, lined in alpaca. Striped merino wool tank tops and union suit added another nautical element to the lineup. “Horizontal stripes are a nice break from all the plaid everywhere,” noted Gomberg.

View Slideshow