LAS VEGAS — The epicenter of the coronavirus may have been half a world away, but its impact was nonetheless felt in the aisles at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center here last week during the MAGIC Marketplace.
Several high-profile exhibitors — notably PVH Corp. and Peerless Clothing — canceled at the last minute, and the Sourcing pavilion portion of the show saw 40 percent of its exhibitors drop out because of the travel ban from Asia, according to Tom Nastos, chief commercial officer for Informa Markets Fashion division, which operates MAGIC.
Peerless declined to comment and PVH issued the following statement: “The safety and well-being of our PVH associates is always a top priority. We continue to monitor the evolving coronavirus situation closely and are taking the necessary actions to protect our associates and business partners, as well as minimize disruption to our business. In accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), PVH has, as of Feb. 7, banned all travel to, from and between several Asian countries unless individually approved. This is in effect until further notice and includes vendors and partners. Those who have traveled to Mainland China or come in contact with anyone who has traveled there within the past 30 days are under a mandatory 14-day, work-from-home plan upon their return. Other travel and participation in large events/gatherings is being evaluated on a case-by-case basis. As the situation evolves, we will update our policies and procedures as necessary.”
Greater China accounted for about 7 percent of PVH’s 2019 revenue and 20 percent of its sourcing derives from there, including about 10 percent of the goods bound to the U.S., the company said Wednesday.
But outside of Sourcing and the two big men’s vendors, Nastos said, “We had very few cancellations. Everyone else came.” He said there was never talk of canceling the show in its entirety and Informa’s health and safety division was on high alert to ensure the exhibitors, attendees and staff were kept safe. The entire exhibition area was disinfected, he said, and hand sanitizers were installed throughout the space. “The people who traveled thousands of miles to be here came to do business,” he said. “How could we not be here to greet them?” He said that unlike many other cities, there were no masks being worn on the trade show floor and it was “business as usual.”
But while it may not have impacted orders for the spring season, the coronavirus is definitely going to be an issue going forward for many vendors. Peter Leff, vice president of Tommy Bahama, said production is going to slow down and there will be delays in shipments beginning in April. “Raw materials are where the logjam will be,” he said, adding that the issue will cause the brand to push out its line breaks for upcoming seasonal collections. He said the women’s division still sources 47 percent of its product from China while men’s is 35 percent — high numbers but still better than they used to be. “Five years ago, it was 100 percent,” he said.
In addition to worries about the virus, the Las Vegas shows were impacted by an overlap in dates with New York Fashion Week, which cut down on the overall attendance. As reported, the ongoing construction project at the Las Vegas Convention Center prompted the men’s, women’s, footwear and sourcing shows to make a one-time shift to Mandalay Bay. But Nastos reiterated that in August, all the shows will move back to the LVCC on their traditional dates. The spring market is slated for Aug. 17 to 19.
Despite the challenges, more than 3,500 vendors from 88 countries did visit the show — 15 percent of whom were from outside the U.S.
The overall mood among attendees could be characterized as generally optimistic but tempered with caution. “The mood differs by category,” said Allison Levy, merchandising strategist for the Doneger Group. “Retailers overall on the men’s side continue to be slightly more positive,” added Patty Leto, senior vice president of merchandising.
Regardless of category, the key to prospering today is for retailers to offer something new and different, and get out of their comfort zone, Levy said.
For the fall season, Doneger pointed to “three big ideas” in men’s wear: originality or the offering of bold colors and dynamic prints to help a guy make a style statement; functionality, which translates into multipurpose versatile pieces as wardrobe anchors, and practicality, the investment in simple core items that can be complemented by fashionable seasonable updates. Key pieces include puffer jackets, tweed sport coats, knit joggers, tech travel pants and updated sport shirts, mock neck sweaters and graphic hoodies.
In Vegas, Durand Guion, group vice president of the fashion office of Macy’s, saw “the validation of an evolution of the trend ideas we’ve been testing and tracking since we were in Europe last month.”
He said plaids and checks in modern heritage patterns — “but done in a new way” with more color and vibrancy — will be key to the fall season, along with corduroy in “everything but pants.” He also pointed to an influx of Japanese denim with its innovative treatments, washes and technical attributes as an opportunity, especially since the price points have become more accessible.
Guion also saw a lot of Nineties influences, with nylon making its return, often mixed with fleece to “make a sweatshirt or hoodie look new.” He was surprised by how many floral patterns he saw. “Nothing is seasonal anymore,” he said. Lastly, he pointed to the sustainability trend with many brands showcasing recycled and upcycled product, many inspired by thrift store designs. “They’re putting a real fashion spin on it,” he said.
Ken Giddon, president of Rothmans in New York, found interesting brands at the Project Mens show this time around. He pointed in particular to Ankari Floruss, a new direct-to-consumer shoe brand that is branching out into wholesale. He also liked Rails, which is expanding its presence in men’s wear, as well as Sorel boots, Sweat Tailor and Stone Rose.
Many of these brands are not widely distributed at traditional retail, which opens an opportunity for him and other independent merchants. He also sees the novelty of offering brands that are just getting into wholesale. “We’re seeing some real movement in how brands and retailers are dealing with each other,” he said.These direct-to-consumer brands provide new product and understand how the channels of distribution are co-mingled. They also know that retail is the cheapest and most effective form of customer acquisition.”
On the women’s side, a lot of the brands on display at Project Womens and WWDMAGIC focused on fast-fashion casual with a continued push toward trends such as “boho chic” and prairie, floral prints (dresses, tops and bottoms) and blouses with volume sleeves. There were also a lot of oversize blazers and coats, but otherwise tailoring was hard to come by.
Over the last year, Julian Davis, senior merchant of Place Showroom, said one well-selling trend surprised him — that of shine.
“That shocked me, the resurgence of high shine, even throughout the summer and fall months,” Davis said. “Styles you would typically think were perfect for holiday, fully sequined dresses, were flying off the shelves in the middle of summer.”
He expects the trend to continue this year and thinks what’s driving it is “social culture,” or daily selfies on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, as well as a general sense of fun. “I feel like people are ready to have fun — and fashion is, too,” Davis added.
Other trends he expects to be popular for fall are volume, for dresses and knitwear, as well as jacquards. Another that’s prevalent among designers, but maybe not yet buyers, is pastel colors, a departure from the typical earthy and jewel tones contemporary brands tend to produce over and over.
“When a product is on the floor, whether it’s a little too trendy or not, it usually needs to fall within a typical fall palette to perform, but there are a lot of designers putting out what you would naturally consider more spring colorways, but in winter-esque bodies,” Davis said.
While orders were being placed at the show, the manner of buying among smaller retailers — which make up the vast majority of the attendees in Vegas — has changed dramatically in recent years. As Kelly Helfman, president of West Coast women’s for Informa Markets, put it: “The game has changed. Buyers and shop owners are getting smarter on buying, they’re buying as needed. They used to come in and just buy the next season six months out. Now they’re buying six weeks out, filling in based on demand a lot more.”
Essentially every brand at the show had an extensive selection of immediate and six-weeks options — often more than half of what they brought to the show, which was billed as a fall trade show.
Here, highlights from Project, WWDMAGIC and Liberty Fairs:
Brand: Stone Rose
Designer: Shai Medalsy
Backstory: Once known strictly as a men’s shirt resource offering primarily brightly colored party prints, the Aventura, Fla.-based Stone Rose has pivoted into a full lifestyle collection targeted to young, professional guys. It recently brought industry veteran Spencer Singer on board as vice president of business development with the primary goal of getting the message out that the brand is now offering fashion polos, Henleys and dress shirts in tech fabrics along with blazers, sweaters and other key items.
Key styles: For fall, the collection centers around the blending of synthetic and natural fibers including a dry-touch polyester yarn that is woven with cotton to create a collection of wardrobe essentials with technical attributes. Singer said the fabric can be manipulated into a number of different finishes such as sateens and brushed flannels in woven shirts, for example. In addition, Stone Rose is also focusing on wardrobe-completer items such as a puffer vest that can be worn over a long-sleeve dress shirt with casual slacks for a professional, yet updated outfit. Performance deconstructed knit blazers and bombers, mélange knit long-sleeve shirts and form-fitting lightweight sweaters are also best-sellers.
Retail prices: Nothing in the collection retails for over $300. Shirts sell for $145, knitwear for $155 to $175 and blazers for $295. Nordstrom is among the brand’s largest wholesale accounts.
Brand: Massimo Alba
Designer: Massimo Alba
Backstory: The Italy-based designer started his career as a creative director for several Italian brands in the Eighties and launched his own cashmere home brands, Ever Clean and 97 rue des Mimosas, which he sold to Malo in 1987. He then joined that company as its creative director and in the early 2000s, he relaunched the Agnona label before joining Dawson International to develop the Ballantyne brand. With that rich résumé, he launched his own eponymous collection in 2006 and opened a small storefront in Milan. Today the brand, which is known for its innovative fabrics and treatments, offers both men’s and women’s wear and operates its own retail locations in several other European cities.
Key styles: In addition to his fabric choices — many of which are exclusive — Alba is known for his luxurious yet unpretentious collection of staples in a sophisticated color palette. For fall, he offered brushed felted cashmere sweaters, relaxed soft corduroy trousers and suits, garment-dyed sweats, five-pocket velvet pants and cozy hoodies.
Retail prices: Because of the intricacy of the fabrics and techniques used in the collection, prices are not cheap. Knitwear ranges from $600 to $1,300, jackets are $795 to $1,295, a sweatshirt is $895 and outerwear ranges from $1,595 to $2,595.
Brand: Paul & Shark
Backstory: The brand was founded in 1976 by the Dini family of Italy, which still sits at its helm. Although it offers an entire range of luxury sportswear, it is still best known for its sailing-inspired items. The brand, whose logo is a shark, traces its name to the sail of an 18th-century clipper in Maine that was inscribed with the words Paul & Shark. That name was soon emblazoned on a COP918 pullover, a sailing sweater, that became a signature of the brand. Today it offers men’s, women’s and children’s apparel and accessories in more than 73 countries, operates over 200 stores and wholesales to another 2,000 retailers. Although Paul & Shark didn’t make its appearance until the Seventies, the family was involved in the fashion industry before that when it reopened a knitting mill in 1957 in Varese, Italy, that had been closed. That mill, which dated back to the Twenties, produced high-end knitwear for many Italian and French ready-to-wear brands including Christian Dior and Balenciaga.
Key styles: In 2012 the brand became a certified green company, and this focus on sustainability is also showing up in the fall collection. Its Save the Sea project is the company’s move to rescue the oceans from plastic. The eco-sustainable collection uses fabrics created from post-consumer plastic bottles that offers thermal insulation and water- and wind-proof qualities while still being comfortable and lightweight. Other key initiatives include the use of Eco Wool for the company’s peacoat — a first for the brand —as well as organic cotton for all T-shirts and polos. Other key fabrics used in the line are recycled cruelty-free wool from Tasmania for all its knitwear and outerwear, and Goose Down Second Life, a blend of recycled goose and duck down padding, for outerwear.
Retail prices: A recycled wool sweater sells for $225 and jackets range from $595 to $1,395 and up.
Designer: Je Lee
Backstory: Maison Margiela alum Je Lee launched Asparagus in 2018, drawing inspiration from avant-garde interpretations of casual vintage style and combining different designs, shapes and volumes into new interpretations. Lee produces his collection in Seoul and it is sold in 15 global stores in Japan, China, the Netherlands and the U.K., among others.
Key styles: The combination outerwear encapsulates the story and energy of the brand, including a navy peacoat with 3-D pockets and an interior fisherman’s vest. Additional pieces include an oversize jacket with elongated back and side zips, an oversize puffer vest with cords to loosen or tighten the piece, a sleeveless blazer with navy wool and pinstripe wool on opposite sides, and a high-collar bomber jacket with MA-1 and M-65 jacket details in olive on the right side and black on the left side. Lee forewent shirts this season, but expanded on knitwear and sweaters that included moss green sweatshirts with a camouflage hoodie pocket turned inside-out and a fleece cape with front pocket that resembles a fanny pack.
Retail prices: Despite the intricacies of design, the collection peaks at $700 retail.
Designers: Brian Lee and Do A Kim
Backstory: Hastego received its name from the phrase “half step going forward.” The founders Brian Lee and Do A Kim started the brand in 2005 to provide high-quality outerwear for men aged 40 and above. To date, Hastego is available in 10 global stores in England, the Netherlands, Korea, Canada and Switzerland, where Kim said it performs the best.
Key styles: The brand boasts luxurious fabrications and craftsmanship such as 100 percent cashmere coats and lamb leather jackets. Cashmere coats are lined with muskrat fur and some styles, like a gray cashmere down-insulated coat with two front pockets, have a double-faced lamb collar. A navy lamb leather jacket and olive suede version both have rabbit fur collars, while a long blue parka features similar fabrication.
Retail prices: The lower end of the collection sits at $300 wholesale, but most styles, like the lamb leather long coat with muskrat lining, is $680 wholesale. Kim said retailers usually mark up the wholesale price about four times.
Brand: All Fenix
Backstory: Started in 2015 out of Melbourne, Australia, by Georgia Sackville and her husband Jason, All Fenix aims to be an activewear line that is worn outside of a workout session. “Contemporary by nature and minimalist in design, our sports-luxe separates are an effortless marriage of sophistication and practicality,” Sackville said. The brand uses performance fabrics in monochromatic colorways and subtle-but-still-fun prints, giving it an elevated feel; it also offers an expanded size range of XS to XXL. This year, the brand is focused on reducing its environmental impact, too, and has already started using recycled polyester, and is planning to start manufacturing with organic cottons and eco-friendly dyes. Biodegradable packaging is coming this year as well.
Key styles: A cotton pullover sweater with a side zip and collar; legging and sports bra sets in navy snake print and light pink and a purple leopard print.
Retail prices: Retail prices range from $68 to $108.
Backstory: Around since 2013, Frnch (pronounced “French”) is offering some stylish pieces with a retro Parisian flair that doesn’t cross over into dated or costume-y territory. Founders and married couple Franck Lin and Chloe Lin (the brand’s name is actually a combination of their first names) describe the Paris-based brand as being for “young working women” and as a blend of feminine and masculine looks. “Frnch is a collection of clean lines, refined fabrics and sophisticated details developed with a touch of vintage in a variety of timeless and affordable pieces,” according to a company representative.
Key styles: Knit sweaters in various muted shades; a blood red corduroy jumpsuit; a winter white faux-shearling jacket.
Retail prices: Retail prices range from $69 to $109.
Brand: Devan Gregori
Designer: Devan Gregori
Backstory: Brand founder and designer Gregori found inspiration for her first collection in her native San Francisco and also the Lyon region of France, where she studied design at the École de Condé. Her collection of 26 pieces aims to elevate casual design and hit on the interaction of “form and functionality,” as she put it. The line also makes use of more sustainable and low-impact fabrics and methods including a viscose-linen blend and a Tencel/cotton blend and a jacquard piece that was woven in Lyon at a longtime family-owned mill. Gregori was also inspired to do some tone-on-tone embroidery by the Japanese tradition of kintsugi, the art of ceramic repair using gold fill as a means to embellish a fracture. “I wanted to allude to this beautiful metaphor in my clothing by using this fractured line embroidery in a subtle way,” she said.
Key styles: A sienna orange shift dress with volume sleeves; a short-sleeve button-down blouse with embroidery across the back; a midi-length skirt with a pleated waist and embroidery across the bottom.
Retail prices: Retail prices start at $95 and go to $560.
Backstory: Owned by Very J, another brand and apparel manufacturer, Mo:Vint’s aesthetic is centered on updated vintage styles, as the name suggests. The brand describes its ethos as “inspired by the effortless chic Parisian, the simple and well-dressed New Yorker, and the casually stylish Californian.” The offering is a mix of casual separates and dresses, a few jumpsuits and on-trend jackets, including blazers and puffer styles.
Key styles: Midi-length shirt-dresses in off-white and moss green; an oversize knit skirt set; a collared denim jumpsuit.
Retail prices: Retail prices start at $50 and go up to $350.
Designer: Mimo Dimarco
Backstory: Fradi Sportswear was born in 1995 in Puglia, Italy, at the hands of brothers Mimo and Francesco Dimarco, who both wanted to create a full concept line. Francesco serves as chief operating officer, while Mimo focuses on the creative end, offering pieces designed as outfits and capsule collections. The collection is produced entirely in Italy and is distributed throughout Europe.
Key styles: Mimo Dimarco explored layering in this collection with light, shirt-weight suit jackets with removable under layers, and wool flannel and corduroy vests with goose down insulation. Travel is also a big component for the collection as exhibited in the new Explosive fabric, a poly-nylon blended stretch fabric that gets its name from the amount of retention it has and how it moves with the body and holds its shape. Finally, knitwear pieces are hand-brushed in different gauges and in fabrics such as pure merino and cashmere for artisanal touches.
Retail prices: Jersey knitwear sits at the lower end of the price range at $195, while outerwear reaches up to $1,000. Neoprene wool-bonded modern parkas range from $695 to $795.
Brand: Mister Bandana
Designers: Roko Sinovcic, Josh Stoneman
Backstory: Mister Bandana founders Sinovcic and Stoneman realized that they had as many as 200 bandanas a few years ago, and were inspired to launch the label to create “something fresh and have fun with it,” said Sinovcic. The duo debuted the brand in New York City in late 2018, producing 22-x-22-inch bandanas from American cotton sourced in the Carolinas. “You can beat them up or clean something up,” said Sinovcic. He also shared a fun graphic showing the different ways one could wear a bandana including “The Hulk Hogan,” which is wrapping one’s crown in the bandana, or “The Bandit,” where one ties the bandana over their nose and mouth and lets it hang, and “The Cowboy” that ties around the neck. Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew was photographed in a press conference in Mister Bandana, styling the piece like “The Ninja,” tying the product around his forehead.
Key styles: Signature prints include tropical patterns such as pineapple monstera leaves, and an elaborate artwork of a man in the jungle fighting a lion. There are also fleece bandanas, which the brand launched in the fall. Also for this season, Mister Bandana introduced prints inspired by the Southwestern outdoors, including camouflage and prints of deer, stags and ducks in the wilderness.
Retail prices: Pieces wholesale for $11 for single colors and $20 for prints, and styles on the brand web site sell for $45.