PARIS — The men’s market in Europe continues to gain traction, leading to an optimistic tone at the Capsule and Tranoï trade shows held here earlier this month.
“Men’s wear has now gotten to the point where it is selling as much as women’s wear, if not more,” said Armand Hadida, art director of Tranoï and founder of iconic Paris store L’Eclaireur, adding that 53 percent of his customers today are men.
Hadida also revealed that starting in September, Tranoï will be held in a town house near the Bourse quarter and will run for six to eight days instead of the traditional three days. A trade show in New York is also in the works and will launch in February 2015. “We have been working on this project for quite some time. We feel the American market is more receptive to European creativity and expertise than ever before,” he said.
At this edition, 174 brands showed at Tranoï, and flamboyant, dandy-inspired styles dominated. “We have been witnessing a return to elegance, expressed through fine fabrics like silk, as well as flower and animal prints,” said Jennifer Cuvillier, styling director at Le Bon Marché.
She particularly liked Jane Carr’s latest collection. Carr, a London-based scarf designer, is sold at 125 stores worldwide including Bergdorf Goodman, Selfridges and Colette. “Right now, the market is booming,” said Michalis Zodiatis, a sales representative for the brand. “Men are visibly becoming more daring in the way they dress. Our best-selling item this season is a red cashmere pashmina printed with Japanese-inspired motifs, but even the most conservative of our clients will pair a gray suit with a leopard-printed silk pocket square.”
“Shoppers are looking for old-school chic, but they are also looking for comfort and functionality,” asserted Louis Epaulard, cofounder of Leon Flam, a classic French accessories brand relaunched in 2011 that sells aviator-inspired bags handmade in France and Portugal.
According to Epaulard, the brand’s newest model — a vintage tool-bag-inspired canvas tote with several pockets for electronic gadgets — is its most successful. “We always test our new products in the Japanese market first, as we find it to be the most mature. European markets follow suit.”
Founded in 2012, young French brand La Comédie Humaine has also experienced strong sales and is hoping to increase distribution from 15 sales points currently — including Japan’s Takashimaya — thanks to a 4 million euro, or $5.4 million, round of funding.
“Men are enjoying shopping for themselves and looking for outstanding quality and quirky details, and brands are consequently increasing their offer [of this type of product,]” said cofounder Vincent-Louis Voinchet, who added that the brand has dropped its prices for 2015 in a move to be more competitive.
Over at Capsule, exhibitors noted increased interest in low-key chic and artisan-produced apparel.
Katsu Manabe, Europe’s sales representative for Japanese denim brand Momotaro Jeans, said European shoppers are becoming increasingly educated and showing an appreciation for artisan jeans. “People wish to get more in touch with the product, especially our youngest clients, who have concerns over where their clothes are produced,” he said. Momotaro Jeans are sold in nine European countries, the biggest markets being Germany and France.
“There is a new take on utility workwear,” said Alice Feillard, men’s wear buyer for Paris department store Printemps. “Patches, vintage effects, hardwear and functional details in their most luxurious version are present in almost every brand.”
There was also an emphasis on chic yet casual clothing. According to Eric Pech, men’s wear buyer at Galeries Lafayette, tailored clothing and street-inspired styles are merging. “Our best-selling clothes tend to be easy to wear, even if the overall look is polished.”
“We have been mixing street style and tailoring for the last few seasons,” said Rasmus Bak, cofounder of Danish brand Libertine-Libertine. “Our skateboarding background is still there, but we also incorporate more formal items, such as pin-striped trousers or printed shirts. The resulting look is very stylish, but also extremely current.”