PARIS — Unfavorable exchange rates dominated the aisles at the recent Capsule and Tranoï men’s wear trade shows, with some American retailers also negatively impacted by the increasingly strong dollar.
“With the digital age and the euro being weaker, customers can get what we offer from European brands directly from Europe for less, which is unfortunate,” said Chris Green, men’s apparel buyer for East Dane. “We do so much business with European brands it’s a little better when the dollar isn’t so strong.”
Romain Regnier, cofounder of Family, a men’s wear store based in Avignon, France, said: “Unfortunately American brands are what’s trendy right now so we’re obliged to take them, even if the margins are smaller.”
With consumers still looking for a deal, several vendors had lowered prices, retailers said, with updated classics topping shopping lists. “Men now like to dress up, but they like pieces with a twist, and for us Capsule is the most interesting showroom for something happening, young and not too expensive,” said Cindy Ho, head of merchandising at The Papilion, a multibrand store based in Jakarta, Indonesia.
“Buyers are looking for a mix, they want to have control of it themselves. They know the customer is sensitive on some items but may want to spend more on others,” said Veronika Ehni, head of international sales at Denmark’s Wood Wood, which will relaunch denim in November.
Across collections, dominant colors ranged from a washed-out pastel pink to an unseasonably dark palette of navy, gray or black. Things have loosened up in the bottoms department, with skinny finally on its way out. “There’s a big focus on the pant this season — wide, flared, with pleats,” said Laurent Coulier, head of group multibrand buying at French media and e-commerce group MenInvest.
“Our clients have been moving away from the superskinny silhouette to a loose pant with at least one pleat,” echoed Joseph Kucera, owner of Suspension Point in Montreal, Canada, who was struggling with sterling exchange rates on British collections. “Even for summer, a tropical wool or a nice cotton flows nicely and gives a bit more of an airy straight line.”
With the progressive streetwear trend in full bloom, collections were strong on elevated fabrics — mainly from Italy and Japan — materials and hardware, with more tailored fits. Dan Maynard, North American general manager for Zanerobe Brand Collective, which owns Zanerobe and Barney Cools, revealed the company in August will launch a fabric-driven capsule dubbed Project A. “We’ll present a project each season that will be completely different and unique and will start with the fabric,” he said, adding that a shoe collaboration with premium sneaker brand Filling Pieces would complement the collection.
Capsule highlights included New York’s 1.61, a unisex workwear-inspired label whose hand-dyed creations had an artfully broken-in feel, and Tourne de Transmission, a British brand whose bestsellers included a loose-slub denim range with textured weaves and patchwork denim. “I’m looking at ethnic silhouettes and pattern-cutting to give more of a worldly influence,” said director Graeme Gaughan, whose background is in communications.
Compelling exhibitors in the show’s New America section included Second/Layer, specializing in tailor-made daily wear produced mainly in New York.
“What we need is to seduce all those buyers who are lost…to rebuild the system to appeal to the young generation of consumers…to bring them some new oxygen,” said Armand Hadida, artistic director of Tranoï, who had laid out inflatable flamingos and deck chairs for visitors to the show’s Palais de la Bourse venue.
Fledgling Milanese loungewear and swimwear brand Kloters presented contemporary designs in dusty prints lifted from Mediterranean tiles. Details included vibrant ribbon ties and mother-of-pearl buttons.
Beautifully finished designs at “comfy couture” label Boulezar, whose pieces are handmade in Munich, Germany, included tailored “jog-jeans,” terry cloth shorts and clean-cut sweatshirts fitted with holes for passing earphone cables and pockets lined with a linen microfiber for cleaning cell phone displays.
Rising French bag brand Bonastre, whose designs are produced in Ubrique, a Spanish leather goods town that supplies a number of luxury players, presented a range of origami-style bags that can be unfolded flat for storing. Basque leather goods brand AïZEA’s Art Deco-inspired designs in python and baby bull calf offered details inspired by the architecture of Saint-Jean-de-Luz on the Basque coast.
Newcomers at Tranoï’s Carroussel du Louvre venue included Japan’s Squair, which specialized in iPhone cases using traditional Japanese craftsmanship, and Sol-Amor, a resuscitated French eyewear brand from the Fifties.
A nomad spirit permeated collections. France’s Jagvi, dubbed a “wardrobe for smart travelers with a focus on fit and fabrics,” was cofounded by Pierre-Yves Bomey. He presented linen sweatshirts, T-shirts in Japanese cotton with camera prints and formal pants in relaxed fabrics like stretch waffle cotton.
In the upcoming talents section, Rebel Yuths’ color-soaked line, inspired by Africa’s Tuareg people, featured cotton and linen pants in hues evoking sand or the dry green of desert shrubs and shirts embroidered with wavy lines of text echoing sand dunes.