Strikes heavily skewed attendance for some men’s and coed trade shows in Paris this month, while others hardly noticed an impact, as enthusiastic buyers welcomed the beginning of a new, sustainable fashion cycle driven by higher quality.
Forced to further tighten already packed schedules due to blockages in public transportation and street traffic, buyers shortened visits and cut certain venues, as they made the Paris trade show rounds.
Tranoï’s Bourse location was hit particularly hard when the roads in the district were cordoned off for protests during a significant portion of the show, held Jan. 17 to 19, while the smaller, Tranoï Richelieu venue hosting London Showrooms, Jan. 16 to 21, enjoyed stronger attendance.
“Buyers told me they couldn’t come because of traffic issues, and every day we had real problems for people trying to get to the salon,” said Tranoï director Boris Provost.
“So we have to see whether the strikes calm down, and how the [next] fashion week goes. But I am aware that there is not enough return on investment in regard to our customers and brands for this edition. And I need to reevaluate the format of Tranoï [Bourse] for the next edition,” he said. By contrast, “Tranoï Richelieu was a real success,” he said.
Tranoï has partnered with Chinese fashion brand developer DFO to launch a new trade show called Nova, set to make its debut in Shanghai at the end of March. However, Provost said his team was considering possibly postponing the event due to the coronavirus epidemic.
Leslie Miller, product line manager for The Boutique concept store at the luxury Little Nell Hotel in Aspen, and all Aspen Ski company stores, said despite extensive travel delays, she and buyer Jen Peters were among those who prioritized their Tranoï visit.
“We’re being very selective, so we both just flew in today, and came right over here [to the Bourse venue]. We know what is driving our numbers, and that’s what we’re looking for,” she said.
The duo found “a lot of different international labels. Tranoï is always a fun show because it’s not your typical Coterie from New York, where it’s all the big names. These are all smaller, really edited companies,” said Peters. Harna’s cashmere line from Italy was one find, “super on trend with what’s out there in terms of colors — like Pantone blue — and styles,” added Peters.
Meanwhile, the Man show at Place Vendôme, and its adjacent coed venue, recorded a sustained increase in attendance.
“When I come to this show, I like it a lot, because it has a very clear point of view. It’s one tribe. It’s not trying to do or be something it’s not,” Marco Innocenti, head of the fashion consulting firm Fashion Glue, said of Man. “I think what is important now is to have a very clear message of what you’re trying to be.”
On a positive note, Innocenti sensed “there is going to be a refurbishing of trade shows, which are going to have an increasingly important part to play. But like anything else in fashion today, you cannot approach it the way you used to, because things are so fast. You have to be very nimble in order to understand what a brand needs.”
For example, “now the final consumer is also the one who influences the buyer. Before it was the opposite. When I was a buyer a long time ago, I was god,” he said. “Today, if I show you something, you ask, ‘Why can’t I have it in other colors?’ etc. Knowledge is power, so stores and brands need to understand that. Respecting who the final consumers are is a key element to growth.”
Along with that new knowledge, visitors tended to agree the industry was entering a new, sustainability-focused era, entailing the obvious responsible sourcing, but also a desire for longer-lasting and higher-quality collections.
“You’re starting to see brands that in the past were doing sweatshirts and T-shirts, who today are changing toward much more tailoring, grown-up. Influencers wanted to be designers. I think now it’s time for real design, people who are doing this job in a real way, not as an afterthought,” said Innocenti. “It’s an exciting moment.”
Junaid Ansari, who owns the Oxford, England, men’s store Burrows & Hare with his father, Sultan Ansari, said he was “not looking for a brand that offers a huge range, just a specialist product.” He found just that with Anderson-Anderson’s Danish heritage sailor sweaters at Man, whose models are developed over years, and carried through every season.
“It’s a sustainable, good quality product, it aligns with all of our philosophies. It’s not a fashion-forward brand. It’s more a responsible focus on the product and the customer,” said Junaid Ansari. He said customers are asking for well-made garments “and not boring: traditional with a little contemporary twist.” This was Ansari’s first buying trip to Paris, “because we’ve exhausted the U.K. avenue and shows,” he said.
Despite the social upheaval, buyers said the French capital was their top choice for European heritage, craftsmanship and design, largely thanks to exciting discoveries found on the city streets. “We find brands and inspiration by taking time to walk around Paris. It’s a critical part of our visit,” said Coline Zani, owner of two concept stores, Cocotte Market and Les Garçons, in Albertville, Savoie.
Hélène Batardière, men’s accessories buyer for Printemps, said she was “looking for sustainability, but also creativity: things we don’t see everywhere else.” She said men’s accessories were selling well, and that she was adding brands. Some highlights she spotted were emerging Korean and Japanese labels, like the glove-maker Elmer by Swany, which recently came under Japanese ownership and is now designed by Hajime Nouda.
The multifunctional bags from Bags in Progress, and creative yet still commercial hats by Béton Ciré, were other favorites. Batardière also spotted a lot of recycled plastics, and thought color choices stayed traditional for men, with bright additions working as bait. “Men might be attracted by color, but in the end he’ll buy black, brown and navy,” she said.
However, several men’s buyers said they were drawn toward brighter palettes, and noted their customers were becoming more adventurous dressers. “We’ve been bold with our product and our brands, and introduced newness for our customers, and it’s been really well-received,” said Nick Mosely, men’s buyer for London’s John Lewis & Partners.
“Definitely newness is driving the market and product innovation too. That point of difference is what’s resonating, and it’s exciting to see that appetite coming through,” he said.
“It’s been a really positive year, in that we’ve made some exciting step changes in our customer proposition, and that’s really connected well with customers,” added Helen Spencer, partner and buyer for John Lewis & Partners.
“We’ve changed the mix of brands within our assortment and doubled the number of brands that we’ve got,” she said, adding that she was “excited about the level of color that’s coming through for this autumn,” including bright reds and blues, along with sustainability efforts at all levels.
Alberto Cappelletto, owner of the 72-year-old Italian store Cappelletto Shop near Venice, said a favorite at the Man show was ready-to-wear brand Manifattura Ceccarelli, because “they make real, incredible products, locally,” he said.
Other men’s wear trends included strong outdoor and Japanese influences, and plenty of sherpa linings on outerwear and accessories. Sneakers were still popular, though evolving toward more boot-driven products, corresponding with the much welcomed, general shift from street to more dressy, which could also be seen in pre-collections for women.
At Tranoï Richelieu, Japanese concept store owner Rie Tamura said she was excited about the collections by two young British brands, Worstok and Ahluwalia, and her favorite at the show, Jordanluca. As part of her expansion into more unisex, sustainable products, Tamura chose Paris over New York. “I’m trying to stop going to New York, because I’m looking for more different and special items that I’m finding here in Paris,” she said.
Designer Jordan Bowen of Jordanluca said the collection, which he described as more elevated, had been well received.
“For example, we launched knitwear, and have gone as sustainable as we possibly could, which means probably 95 percent of the fabrics are either upcycled, recycled, organic,” said Bowen. “I don’t even want to shout about it too much because at the same time, I feel it’s just what we should all be doing.”
HIGHLIGHTS AT TRANOÏ RICHELIEU
Brand: Maison Velendra
Designer: Kaushik Velendra
This Indian designer unveiled his first collection in early January, and has already dressed model Alton Mason at the Grammys, and Jack Brett Anderson at the BAFTA’S EE rising star party. Velendra makes garments inspired by “what tailoring will be for the future,” with the goal of flattering the male body. His sculpturally engineered, armor-like accessories are made of soft, heat-reacting felt molds that are detachable with magnets. They can be worn to broaden the shoulders and embolden a silhouette. “For every man who feels a little insecure, it’s to out-beat that through tailoring,” said the designer. Other garments were cut to help maintain good posture, or hide love handles. Beading and embroidery on the more ornate pieces was done by Jean-François Lesage and his Vastrakala atelier in Chennai, using traditional Indian techniques and new materials.
Retail prices: basic trousers 1,180 euros, jackets without molds 4,100 euros, with molds 6,400 euros.
Designers: Derek Cheng and Alex Po
For their first collection, titled “Unsettled Shell,” the duo from Hong Kong were inspired by traditional men’s wear details, which they tried to “liquify,” transforming them to evoke their personal experience growing up more feminine than traditional societal expectations. Textures and prints were drawn from found objects in Hong Kong. “We wanted to embrace this kind of culture, where men’s wear doesn’t have to be strong and masculine. So we were inspired by traditional men’s wear like the trenchcoat or jacket, but then we added our twist to the fabrics, like by making a denim jacket look watery. The denim was made with an almost liquid-like knit, that is very difficult to execute,” said Po.
Retail prices: Average range from 400 euros to 950 euros.
HIGHLIGHTS AT MAN AND MAN/WOMAN
Designer: Frédéric Robert
After a career developing men’s accessories for fashion houses such as Kenzo, Lanvin, Dior and Hermès, in 2018 Robert used his expertise to launch his first independent “chic, couture Parisian” sneaker brand. The unisex line was quickly snatched up by retailers such as Le Bon Marché. “I learned a lot and really understand the whole level of quality that can be put into a product,” said Robert, who works in tandem with a Portuguese atelier, training their craftsmen in the same level of savoir-faire used by luxury houses, to produce handmade, eco-friendly shoes at affordable prices. Materials are sourced locally, and this season Robert worked to create particularly light models out of recycled nylon and water-resistant, oil-treated wool. The collection’s palette of burgundy and dark blues was inspired by 17th-century Italian painters and their use of chiaroscuro. To help spread the word, Robert asked French artists, journalists, singers and others to be brand “ambassadors” on social media, and in turn, he promotes their work to his 30,000 followers.
Retail prices: 180 euros to 220 euros.
Designers/ founders: Cathrine Lundgren-Andersen and Peter Kjaer-Andersen
This family owned, Danish company makes functional, unisex workwear focusing on high-quality knitwear with references to Danish maritime traditions and craftsmanship.
“We only create a new style if it’s something we want to keep,” said Lundgren-Andersen. The label’s signature Sailor Turtleneck is made with extra spun, strong wool to keep its elegant form, and to prevent unravelling or peeling. “We want your children to inherit the sweater,” said Lundgren-Andersen. Some natural dyes were added in recent years, and a bright yellow version of each design was a relatively new, popular addition. The brand has been sourcing responsibly since its inception in 2009, and products are made in Italy in a small factory.
Retail prices: Sweaters 260 euros, jackets 360 euros.
Brand: Manifattura Ceccarelli
Designer: Francesco Baschirotto and Giuliano Ceccarelli
This new, northern Italian outerwear brand was a star attraction at the Man show. Its founders come from years of experience as the licensers for the Filson brand, based in Seattle, but ended that relationship and launched their own private label four years ago, when Filson’s ownership changed. “We mix the cultures of archival U.S. sportswear with an Italian twist on the fitting and researched details,” said Baschirotto. “We are focused on finding the best quality fabric around the world, with all Italian manufacturing.” The company works with one of the oldest mills in Italy to make Panno Grosso Di Casentino, a signature thick and naturally water-resistant wool, he said. Natural fibers such as goose down padding; virgin wool, and water-repellent, double twisted wax cotton, were combined in a rugged, yet tailored, masculine look that didn’t shy away from bright colors, nor the more subtle, rich shades of forest greens or deep blues.
Retail prices: 550 euros to 760 euros on average.
Designer: Satu Maaranen
For their pre-fall collection, Marimekko swung toward a more unisex, masculine universe, in response to growing demand from male customers, though feminine styles and prints remain at the label’s core. More natural fibers were introduced to limit the brand’s footprint, in addition to the inauguration of a carbon neutral office beside the brand’s printing mill.
Signature colorful poppy prints were still a staple, lightening the latest outdoor, camping theme, and more sporty outerwear.
Retail prices: 250 to 300 euros for dresses, 500 to 600 euros for outerwear.
Brand: Loreak Mendian
Designer: Not disclosed
The San Sebastien-based label has undergone a major evolution in the last three years, thanks to a new artistic director, and a return to the brand’s founding principles of using beautiful materials, with functional and contemporary silhouettes, as well as more responsibly sourced products. Men’s and women’s lines often worked as unisex styles, while key pieces explored contrasts in textures and tones, with punches of neon detail.
Retail prices: 150 euros up to 380 euros.
HIGHLIGHTS AT TRANOÏ BOURSE
Designer: Chia-wei Kang
The Japanese designer’s latest unisex, handmade collection in natural fabrics centered around a traveler theme. Intricate, origami-like fabric folds created geometric patterns on garments in mainly indigo shades. Playful, reversible jackets evoked either more feminine, floral aesthetics, or masculine traditional minimalism, for a balance of the two.
Retail prices: 600 euros on average.
Designer: Suni Rasim
This one-year-old brand is inspired by the founder’s Bulgarian roots, though the label is produced in London. The brand developed its own modernized, signature Bulgarian rose stitching, which looks like a little rose or bulbous flower, a version of which can be found on traditional Bulgarian clothing. The edgy collection of mostly black, leather looks, accented with cow hide and shearling, is already worn by rappers and other performers, with one item sported at the last Met Gala.
Retail prices: 590 euros to 2,300 euros.