Retailers Tap Into New ‘Ath-Leisure’ in Las Vegas

Updated clothing and sportswear pieces seen spurring sales for fall.

Lardini’s wool coat, Billy Reid’s alpaca sweater and Crossley’s wool and nylon sweatpants. Quinn Scarf.

Lardini’s wool coat, Billy Reid’s alpaca sweater and Crossley’s wool and nylon sweatpants. Quinn Scarf.

Bryan Haraway

Appeared In
Special Issue
Men'sWeek issue 02/20/2014

LAS VEGAS — It’s not rocket science — the secret to success is to offer fresh, differentiated product at a reasonable price.

This story first appeared in the February 20, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

With a strengthening economy as the backdrop, retailers hit the trade shows here this week to check out thousands of brands they hoped would fit that bill. Among the most saleable trends were updated prints including plaids, double-faced fabrics and mixed media, quilting, distressed finishes and “fast-fashion accessories” including patterned socks, pocket squares and “statement bags,” according to The Doneger Group’s merchants at the group’s annual opening-day trend presentation.

Outdoor-inspired apparel, driven by a trend toward ath-leisure, is also a driving force for fall, and this translated into textured knits, colorblocking, fashion sweatpants and tech outerwear, according to Tim Bess, Doneger’s men’s fashion trend analyst. On the flip side, Bess said, a “post-casual-business mix” such as sweaters worn with suits, slim-fit sport coats, printed dress shirts, tapered trousers and contemporary slim neckwear and accessories were also highlights of the season.

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Patty Leto, senior vice president of merchandising for Doneger, said men’s wear sales rose 5.3 percent in 2013 to approach $60 billion in sales. These gains were driven by the Millennial customer, who was drawn to “innovation and newness. They’re choosing comfort, performance and fit,” she said, noting that the men’s market is “more dynamic than ever. Change is happening and men are embracing it,” she concluded.

Ronny Wurtzburger, president of Peerless Clothing, agreed. “If you give the customer the right thing at the right price, you’re going to win.”

For the tailored clothing company, that includes three-piece suits, popular for fall and even for spring; a new color palette that includes a shade lighter than the traditional navy, and more narrow trousers in both suits and separates. “We have to be more like women’s ready-to-wear,” Wurtzburger added, “and give men a reason to buy something new.”

Mario Bisio, owner of Mario’s in Portland, Ore., and Seattle, said, “There’s a lot of great product out there. So it’s really about how good a retailer you can be. People are bringing their A game and you have to do your homework. The difficult part is editing.”

Arlene Goldstein, vice president of trend merchandising and fashion direction for Belk, pointed to chambray shirts, nondenim bottoms, tailored vests, puffer vests, activewear brands and “completer pieces” as the “tools for [our customer] to create an unexpected wardrobe.”

Mike Nemoir, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s wear for The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., said the men’s business continues to be a bright spot for the store and he was searching for the right brands to strengthen the outdoors business, as well as key looks in young men’s and updated denim.