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With a variety of men’s apparel shows as well as separate footwear and golf-themed events, retailers ran themselves ragged in Las Vegas this week searching out the latest items to freshen their floors for spring. MAGIC Market Week, which encompasses MAGIC Men’s, Project, MVMNT and Pool as well as the elevated — and well-received — Tents@Project, was joined this time by a consortium of competing shows under the umbrella name of Modern Assembly. This included the Vegas debut of Liberty and Agenda, as well as MRket and Capsule. The PGA Show jumped on the bandwagon by holding its spring market alongside the Modern Assembly grouping. Although merchants felt overwhelmed by the number of shows, the size and scope of what was available provided a comprehensive overview of the men’s market and plenty of opportunity to find unique brands to differentiate their floors next year. Here, some of the highlights from the shows.
RELATED STORY: Updated Product Drives Buying in Vegas >>
This story first appeared in the August 22, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Swarovski Award for Menswear winners offered a preview of their spring collection, showcasing an elevated line that morphed sportswear and tailored clothing and “met in the middle,” according to codesigner Dao-Yi Chow. Silhouettes were more sleek and minimalistic than in the past and fabrics were more technical, such as viscose blended with nylon. “They’re something you can wear to work, then to the gym, and then to an event at night without sacrificing comfort or style,” he said.
Inspired by the U.S. in the Fifties, Weiland’s spring offering was his most sophisticated to date but still managed to reflect his signature playful and quirky personality. A closer look at a striped shirt, for example, found inconsistencies, indicating that it was painted and not printed; linen shirts offered two distinct yet complementary stripes, and a crewneck sweater showcased a unique broken-stripe design. Bottoms included slim-fit jeans with a Fifties sensibility and chambray shorts.
The designer and retailer took a sportier turn for spring with his innovative version of classic tailored clothing. “This is my next evolution,” designer Derek Mattison said of the line, which is now produced at his own Los Angeles atelier studio. A motorcycle jacket silhouette with full canvas construction was offered in a cotton and metal blended fabric. A lightweight tunic with raglan sleeves and an inverted peak lapel blazer shown over skinny black denim jeans was also indicative of the company’s new direction.
The historic California swimwear brand has jumped headlong into the print wave for spring. Top-selling patterns at the show included Hawaiian florals and Navajo-inspired prints. In terms of color, strong florescent shades dominated the fashion offering in everything from neon green to cotton-candy pink. Even the more conservative colors are being refreshed with pops of these bright hues. The brand continues to offer the swimwear in three separate fits: a short, European model; a midthigh, and a board short. Color-coordinated T-shirts and shirts were also offered to complement the swimwear on retail selling floors. Sundek also offered classic solids for the more conservative guy. Retail prices for the classic styles are $119 and $129 for the Hawaiian and Navajo prints.
AG Adriano Goldschmied
Building on its manufacturing and wash expertise in denim, AG Adriano Goldschmied has embarked on a new strategy to emphasize a collection approach to its merchandising. To help oversee that effort, the company earlier this year tapped a new design director, Mark Wiesmayr, a veteran of Pop Studio, Levi’s, Ksubi and Sass & Bide. “We’re aiming to be smart and sophisticated with a touch of modernity,” said Sam Ku, creative director of AG Adriano Goldschmied, a unit of Koos Manufacturing. “I think in the past our different categories didn’t speak to each other well enough. It was more classification-oriented. Now, we’re more collection-oriented.”
For spring, that means tone-on-tone looks in tops and bottoms, with chambray shirts and jackets matching denim styles with clean, vintage washes. A fashion element was added with flourishes like a feather print on a chambray bomber jacket and a dandelion discharge print on a denim shirt.
Colored denim, which has been a key trend in previous seasons, has taken a back seat to more elegant white, ivory and gray tones. “It’s a smart, elevated look,” said Ku. “Our heritage will always be denim but we’re really building out the collection.”
A mammoth Lacoste polo shirt hung several stories above the brand’s booth at Project, a piqué beacon of the brand lest anyone mistake its most important category. Polos comprise 40 percent of the Lacoste business and new North American chief executive officer Francis Pierrel would like to pump up the business even more. “We haven’t had enough innovation with the polo,” he said. “We need to provide a reason for our loyal customers to buy more polos.”
Hence, for spring Lacoste added new twists to its signature item, with options like a narrower placket, Johnny collars, delicate embossed patterns on the sleeve bands and bold rubber crocodile logos on some of the sportier styles. Some patterns have been revived from the company’s extensive archives, such as an all-over airplane motif designed by the late Robert George, who drew the very first crocodile logo for the French brand.
“The Nineties are back,” declared Just C. Greenidge, creative director at Rocawear. That meant a spring collection rife with cargo shorts, fishermen’s vests and intensely distressed and bleached-out denim. Sweatshirts have always been a staple of the line and some of the new designs this season referenced Nineties-era, European sportswear labels like Le Coq Sportif. One sweatshirt style featured an oblique portrait of legendary rapper Slick Rick — even if some would argue he was more of an Eighties figure — and another design was adorned with a printed floral motif that was lifted from an outfit sported by Rocawear founder Jay-Z in an old photo, said Greenidge.
A crowd of onlookers clustered outside the Akoo booth when hip-hop star T.I., or Clifford Harris Jr., stopped by to boost the brand he founded with Virginia Beach, Va.-based manufacturer RP55 Group. The rapper, riding high on the success of “Blurred Lines,” the massive summer hit he collaborated on with Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, said designing Akoo was also a group effort. He sends the design team, headed by creative director Ralph Reynolds, a steady stream of inspiration throughout the season. “It’s things that I buy and I like that I feel we should incorporate into our style,” explained T.I. “They send me designs and I say, ‘No this can’t work. Yes, this is dope. Add this to that, add this detail to that cargo pocket.’ There’s so much meticulous detail that goes into it.”
The attitude of Akoo strikes a more contemporary stance than some of its more urban-oriented peers, with a strong outdoors and rustic inspiration. Original artwork — Reynolds was once an oil painter — on sweatshirts and T-shirts channeled hunting themes. Similarly, one shorts style was decorated with a wood-grain camouflage print.
A special collection of T-shirts and sweatshirts was emblazoned with the photography of Jonathan Mannion, who since the Nineties has been a chronicler of some of the most seminal moments in hip-hop. Mannion has shot album covers and concert imagery for Jay-Z, Eminem, Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, Nas and others.
Long known for its colorful, Latin-inspired underwear, the Miami-based company has now brought that same sensibility to the sock market. The launch line presented three distinct collections: a mercerized cotton offering with breathability and stretch attributes sported polka dots and color-blocked patterns as well as bright solids and stripes; a more luxurious blend of rayon fiber, polyester and spandex with a soft hand were offered in an array of geometric patterns, and a cotton Modal grouping called Papi Pride focused on a rainbow color scheme indicative of its targeting of the gay community.
U.S. Polo Assn.
The athletically oriented brand jumped on the color bandwagon for spring, offering its signature polo shirts in a variety of color stories, ranging from the saturated brights inspired by Saratoga Raceway and a nautical regatta theme with a red-white-and-blue color scheme, to the more subdued preppy palette of a Martha’s Vineyard collection. Pops of color infused the line with interest and ranged from laser yellow and Havana red to bright green and cobalt blue. Bottoms included athletic-inspired cargos with some subtle colorful accents.
Hopping on the Instagram bandwagon, Original Penguin printed vintage-look photographs inspired by the app’s popular filters on swim trunks. Despite its retro roots, the brand is aiming to update its messaging with a more modern look on its signature Earl polo — which is its single biggest-selling classification — by slimming down its collar, placket and contrast trim. “It’s an updated take on our heritage,” said Ray Camano, who joined the Perry Ellis International-owned brand earlier this year as executive vice president of wholesale, retail and design, following a 14-year career at A|X Armani Exchange.
That refresh will extend to retail, where Original Penguin will renovate its shops on Lincoln Road in Miami and the Florida Mall in Orlando with a new store concept, as well as open a new retail unit on lower Broadway in Manhattan early next year.
New this holiday season is a line of Original Penguin underwear and loungewear from licensee Delta Galil. The launch assortments include basic briefs and boxer briefs, as well as fashion items like boxers that mimic the look of the brand’s Earl polo. The underwear has so far been picked up by Nordstrom, Amazon.com and Zappos.com.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary next year, G-Star showcased some quarter-century-themed designs for spring. One jean was made from a 25-oz. denim — they felt almost as weighty as a suit of armor — while another mimicked 25 years of wear and tear. The latter was modeled after a personal pair of jeans worn for that extended time span by Patrick Kraaijeveld, chief creative officer of the Dutch denim maker. This month, G-Star opened two new retail locations in Houston and the Mall of America, in Bloomington, Minn., bringing its U.S. store count to 18, all of them franchised.
Founded in 1999 as a leather outerwear maker with a racing bent inspired by founder Jimmy Reilly’s love of cars and motorcycles, Rogue’s subsequent expansion into a full contemporary collection still hews to that ethos. For spring, the racing aesthetic was found in jeans and pants with motocross detailing like articulated knees and trapunto stitching. The fast-lane philosophy was offset in one jean style fashioned in an unexpectedly soft cotton and terry fabric. Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s are among the brand’s biggest accounts.
Civilian Pilot Training by Cockpit USA
A go-to brand for fans of military-inspired outerwear and leather jackets, Civilian Pilot Training by Cockpit USA is the more fashion-oriented line from Cockpit USA, a long-standing maker of genuine bomber jackets and a supplier to the U.S. armed forces. Motocross jackets in perforated leather with mash linings in camouflage patterns were strong sellers for spring, said Jacky Clyman, a founder of the company.
Leather-trimmed varsity jackets were aimed at the fashion customer, while fire-retardant jackets made from DuPont’s Nomex material were targeted at buyers looking for a genuine performance benefit — the aviation arm of the Florida highway patrol has placed orders for them, noted Clyman.
Better in Blue
Lasers were used to create unique wash effects on denim jeans, shirts and shorts at Better in Blue, the brand launched this year by the China-based manufacturer behind Vigoss, Cult of Individuality and Rivet de Cru. One fashion-forward jean had a laser-etched snakeskin pattern while a denim shirt was decorated with a palm tree motif.
Shorts were a strong category for the brand, such as an indigo French terry design, said Vince Gonzales, the denim veteran who is heading up the U.S. launch of the brand.
Other unique pieces, like a knit motorcycle jacket, cropped resin-coated chinos and a new licensed shirt line, rounded out the assortments. The brand has so far been picked up by Atrium and Universal Gear for the fall launch, said Gonzales.
Spring is still all about color and shape at Peerless, the industry’s leading tailored clothing manufacturer. A key color for the season is what president Ronny Wurtzburger called the “new blue,” a hue that is lighter than navy and looks fresh. Silhouettes are still slim overall with narrow pants offering a tapered bottom selling the best, he said. Suit separates, vested clothing and traditional sport coats are also driving sales for the season.
Dress shirts and neckwear are getting a boost from new silhouettes and patterns for spring. Blue is the prevailing message, ranging from chambrays and denim-inspired fabrics to turquoises and teals. Bright colors, updated fabrics and different collar treatments — everything from cutaway spreads to button-downs — marked the trend in the dress-shirt market. Performance fabrics such as noniron, wrinkle-free or stretch were strong as were updated prints that ranged from brights to subtle. In neckwear, bow ties continue to outperform the market. Other key patterns include ginghams, checks and plaids. Pocket squares and scarves were also important.
Best known for its casual canvas bags, Jack Spade put a new spotlight on its career-oriented collection of both smooth and pebble-grain leather briefcases, gym bags and overnight duffles, which range in price from about $398 to $600. “It’s a more sophisticated and luxe offering,” said Justin Shoji, a senior account executive at the brand, a unit of Fifth & Pacific Cos. Inc.
Emphasizing the off-duty nature of its entry-level price point canvas collection, each of those casual bags come attached with a bottle opener. Vertical totes — taller than they are wide — are a key trend for spring, with continuing strength in messenger styles as well, said Shoji.
In watches, a key recent category for Jack Spade, gunmetal and a new chronograph were strong sellers for the season.
Solid & Striped
The expanding pool of men’s swimwear brands got a stylish new entrant last November in Los Angeles-based Solid & Striped. The company was founded by Isaac Ross, who previously worked in business development at the William Morris Endeavor agency. “I was at a party in Water Mill [N.Y.] and everyone was in Vilebrequin, including me. I wanted to offer an alternative to all those prints,” explained Ross.
Solid & Striped, as the name suggests, focuses on low-key solid and striped styles, with some ginghams in the mix — which are really perpendicular stripes, pointed out Ross. The line is made in Morocco from Italian fabrics, with men’s swimsuits retailing for $130 to $150 and matching boys’ swimsuits — perhaps a nod to Vilebrequin— for $80 to $90.
Solid & Striped has been picked up by Scoop, Tenet in Southampton, N.Y., and hotel shops like the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Standard in Miami and the Viceroy in Anguilla. The company launched a women’s line this year in partnership with Morgan Curtis, a daughter of designer Jill Stuart who has her own lingerie brand called Morgan Lane. Ross and Curtis are longtime school friends and attended Cornell University together.
HBsuper by HoodieBuddie
HBsuper by HoodieBuddie started life as a music brand but branched out in 2008 by inventing an innovative product: a hoodie with machine washable, built-in headphones. Created by Los Angeles-based James Wolfe, headphones are woven through the drawstrings of the garments and last for dozens of washings without losing their sound quality. For spring, Wolfe has added microphones and remote control features to the garments. The technology is now available in everything from traditional fleece hoodies and nonhoodie options to tank tops and T-shirts available in a variety of colors and patterns that retail from $52 to $120.
Diamond Supply Co.
Since its founding 15 years ago, the brand has branched out well beyond its roots as a skateboarding hardware line into a popular collection of T-shirts, fleece and accessories — all with the company’s signature diamond logo. The branding is found on everything from a long-sleeve desert camouflage-patterned shirt with embroidered diamonds to mesh basketball jerseys and backprinted hoodies. Bestsellers at the show included a Simplicity diamond crewneck sweatshirt and hoodies sporting a Diamond Paris logo in white and teal, a color the company calls diamond blue.
Greg Norman Collection/Dunning Golf
Clean stripes, a sophisticated color palette and understated prints and patterns were the overriding trends for the Greg Norman Collection for spring as a traditionally skewed men’s wear aesthetic returned to the forefront of the market. But while the styling may be old-school, performance attributes continue to be essential. At the show, Greg Norman Collection offered moisture-wicking fabrics in its shirts as well as the new ML75 Hybrid shorts and the debut of long pants. At the company’s higher-priced division, Dunning Golf, cotton is making a comeback, but it’s cotton with a twist. For spring, Dunning introduced a Heritage Performance Cotton fabric for its shirts that offers the comfort of cotton and the performance attributes of synthetics. Styling is understated and speaks to the heritage of the game.
A new addition to the golf apparel market for spring, Devereux is a modern men’s wear collection that offers updated styling in a tight collection of polos and lightweight sweaters. The brand’s tag line is “Proper Threads” and its pima cotton shirts with printed stripes across the chest would be appropriate both on and off the course. The logo is subtle and is found on the back collar of the garments instead of splashed across the front. The pima cotton sweaters are offered in V-necks only for the launch season. Retail prices are $80 to $90 for shirts and $145 for sweaters.