PARIS — Brexit was the topic on everyone’s lips at the recent round of men’s trade shows here, with Tranoï, MAN and Capsule opening the day after the results of the June 23 referendum by British voters to exit the European Union came through.
Capsule newcomer Crowther/Plant was among those reeling at the news. Based out of Margate in southeast England, the label specializes in arty, sustainable active silhouettes inspired by the area’s coast, like its Ray sweatshirt in a stingray cut and long T-shirts in seaweed prints.
“Everyone here has been completely shocked by it. We’ve been in touch with the UKTI [U.K. Trade & Investment government department], the supporting network that helped us be at the show, because we’re worried about what to do about our euro-price list. Obviously, due to the market fluctuations, if we continued to sell at the same euro level we would be losing 10 to 15 percent in 24 hours, and as a young brand we can’t afford to do that,” said cofounder Emrys Plant.
“We’re totally upset that we’re in Paris on a weekend when one half of the country has decided not to share that European friendship, but there is so much to process and understand,” he continued.
At MAN, where newcomers included cult Swedish rainwear brand Stutterheim, which has a new fashion line and a collaboration with Garance Doré up its sleeve for September, Ben Andrew, senior buyer men’s fashion at Liberty in London, said it’s too early to say what the implications of the vote will be economically.
“It’s just a morale thing at the moment. Our euro-exchange rate is already set. We buy all the money to buy our stock ahead of time, so this season it is not going to affect us from a buying point of view, and the customer won’t feel it. But next season they almost certainly will,” he said.
The spring 2017 men’s wear trends don’t seem to be affected, in any case, with Andrew flagging “pink — it’s huge” — and “gingham” among key directions, along with embellishment and embroidery.
“It’s all about relaxed, fluid silhouettes, like Hawaiian shirts and bowling shapes,” he said.
Also at MAN, Chris Green, divisional merchandise manager at Need Supply Co., a clothing and lifestyle store based out of Richmond, Virginia, echoed he had seen “a real focus on color — lighter pastels that complement the basic navies and blacks in a man’s wardrobe. There have been really nice touches of purple, blush pinks and one-off pops of a richer statement pink in most collections that we have seen. We have also noticed a lot of tropical floral hits.”
Green cited among market challenges the “amount of promotion/discounting that takes place during each season,” notably in the hypercompetitive e-commerce space, with “a lot of other platforms [moving] quickly to discount items or provide some sort of incentive to capture customers.” His top collections at MAN included Adsum and Bleu de Paname.
Perusing the racks at Portuguese label La Paz, known for its updated men’s wear classics inspired by the sea — specifically the Atlantic, its people and traditions — with a focus on color and texture, was Arnault Castel. The owner of “future-classics” lifestyle boutique Kapok, which operates six stores in Hong Kong and two in Singapore, attributed a “sluggish” start to the year to low consumer confidence in the region that has “nothing to do with buying power.”
“We specialize in premium labels, but we noticed that we were selling less of the expensive pieces, so we’ve adapted the offer a bit and things are picking up again. It’s like that in Hong Kong; people get scared then it all settles down. It’s a bit volatile,” he said.
Castel observed a move by labels to better cater to the Asian market, saying: “Before, European designers didn’t really think about adapting to Asian markets. The fabrics were too heavy or volumes too fitted, but today we’re seeing more ample forms and ultralight weights in cotton-linen mixes and fabrics like toweling.”
Over at Tranoï, David Hadida, the trade show’s chairman and chief executive officer, was in a mock-apocalyptic mood. “The world in general is coming to an end,” he said, before conceding that the climate is “pretty morose.”
“Everything is changing at the moment. We have to [adapt], but at the same time being a maverick today is very risky. We have to make the right decisions,” continued Hadida.
The team is working on a digital strategy to support the bricks-and-mortar trade shows, he continued. After opening in New York last year, there are also plans to export to other countries, including Asia for the end of 2017 or in 2018. Tranoï Parfums New York will launch in September alongside the Tranoï New York Women & Men salon, with a “big trunk show” planned for Barneys New York prior to the event, added Hadida.
Tranoï’s Paris show was split between the city’s Palais de la Bourse and Cité de la Mode et du Design venues. Newcomers included German 2016-17 International Woolmark Prize finalist Brachmann and Malaysia’s Moto Guo, a semifinalist for the 2016 LVMH Prize, with a burgeoning lifestyle offering spanning established and emerging talents like Piet Hein Eek and Mayday Mayday Mayday.
Bustling stands included rising London-based designer Wan Hung, whose collection was inspired by a road trip he did with his “besties” back home in Hainan Island, known as “the Hawaii of China.” Standouts included vibrant T-shirts in an abstract beach print with bead embroidery and a black double-breasted cotton coat with a collapsed 3-D, cube-shaped back evoking the ocean swell.
Walid Zaazaa, founder of the Manifesto multibrand store in Singapore, flagged LY Adams among ones to watch. The Made-in-Italy, Paris-based urban basics label was founded by Séverine Lahyani, who recently opened a 4,000-square-foot concept store — Archive 18-20 — in the city’s Marais district.
“What is good is that she is also a retailer, so she knows what we need as retailers and you can tell from the collection. There’s a good balance between image pieces and commercial pieces,” said Zaazaa, who for spring 2017 trends cited “a new kind of tailoring that’s completely unconstructed in raw unfinished fabrics, but with a good hand, and all these new shapes of pants and shorts with sporty elements like elasticated waistbands, new proportions…not so classic or preppy, almost hybrid shorts — a longer, oversize look.”
At Capsule, young French men’s and women’s brand Les Expatriés was doing its bit for expatriates the world over. Cofounders Pauline Fournier-Bidoz and Marie-Charlotte Bonnet lived in various far-flung countries before launching the adventurer-spirit label. Collection highlights included inside-out jeans with a Nineties feel and patchwork blousons in English tapestry, leather, suede and cotton.
“You take fabrics that don’t have much in common in the beginning, four different fabrics, and you meld them together and a harmony is created. That’s our interpretation of expatriation — you put yourself in a different situation and see what happens,” explained Bonnet. “When you’re an expat, you leave your country where you know how everything works, with your cultural references and how people react to things. Then you arrive in a new country and all the codes are messed up, so you’re kind of always a bit off. But that’s also what makes you interesting. That’s also what makes it rich.”