PARIS — In a season of contrasts, Tranoï and Capsule are right on trend.
Fashion weeks in London, Milan and Paris have seen diverse — almost opposite — styles come together in a redefining way as technical wear and sportswear elements were incorporated into formal tailoring. In the French capital, the Capsule and Tranoï trade shows were no exception. According to Armand Hadida, artistic director of Tranoï and founder of Paris concept store l’Eclaireur, “Globalization and the Internet have given us access to all kinds of styles, and today for the first time we dare to experiment simultaneously with different colors, shapes and influences. Right now fashion is all about diversity.”
At Capsule, held from Friday to Sunday, the focus was on streetwear and technical materials. Attendance was up, and so was the number of exhibitors — there were 200 brands, up from 170 last season, according to organizers — and buyers looked for freshness and originality.
“I never have any preconceptions about what I’m going to find here. I try to keep an open mind, since I’m mainly looking for anything that is new and surprising,” said Giorgina Siviero, who runs the store San Carlo in Turin, Italy. “This season I’m definitely searching for great statement sweatshirts and lots of color.” She was drawn to young British designers like Katie Eary and Kit Neale.
“This season we have created a variety of graphic prints mixing different shades of pink, blue, green and yellow, which have been especially popular with our Asian clients, who account for 75 percent of our sales. But we have also introduced some black-and-white pieces for the first time,” said Caspar Hodgson, cofounder of Kit Neale. “We have also developed accessories, and we are surprised at the response they’re getting. Everyone is loving backpacks.”
“We have only been buying backpacks for the last two seasons, but they are selling extremely well,” said Renan Serrano, men’s wear buyer for Choix in São Paulo. “Nothing is more interesting for us now than accessories, especially if they have a streetwear feel to them, and plenty of brands at Capsule are offering just that.” Among Serrano’s favorites were Swedish hat label Karl Alley and French design collective Les (Art)ists. Both draw their inspiration from tongue-in-cheek hip-hop references and ghetto culture: Karl Alley’s snapback hats are decorated with metal or PVC plates sporting statements such as “Realness” or “Fierce.” And printed T-shirts featuring the names of rappers and designers and their years of birth are Les (Art)ists’ bestsellers. “Client demand has been growing steadily for us,” said Octave Passot, cofounder of the brand. “We are offering very affordable basics and accessories which sell very well. But what is interesting is the way our items are placed in the stores, which is usually next to high-end designers like Rick Owens. People like to mix and match these two very different styles.”
Accessories, from hats to bags, shoes — particularly creepers — and sunglasses, garnered most of the buyers’ attention. “This season we are showing several clothing and accessories brands,” said Irene Clop, cofounder of Barcelona-based The Clop Showroom. “But the most successful items so far are Etnia Barcelona’s sunglasses made in collaboration with artists like Nobuyoshi Araki and Yves Klein, and Twins for Peace’s beaded sneakers.”
Technical outerwear is also popular this season, and brands like Norse Projects have been increasingly focusing on fabric research for their designs. “We have only been doing tech wear for three seasons, and it’s working really well,” said Kenneth Paulsen, commercial director of the Danish brand. “It’s not our bestseller, but we have realized that most clients like to buy at least one piece of tech wear to combine with formal tailoring. They will wear a beautifully cut woolen suit with a tech vest underneath.”
Ilya Nafeer, cofounder of the Russian label Grunge John Orchestra, agreed: “Buyers are looking for high-quality materials, but also for a kind of vintage look, particularly the Japanese.”
Aoi Kimura, buyer for the concept store Ciento in Aomori, Japan, was looking for “retro-style brands that blend performance and cool.” He was drawn to old-school knitwear motifs, jacquard sweaters, tartan pieces and camouflage prints.
Tranoï counted 151 exhibitors and more than 10,000 visitors. The trend this season was classic tailoring with a twist commingling with up-and-coming niche brands. The decision to focus on young designers was far from random, said Hadida. “More than ever, emerging talent needs our support. It has become extremely difficult for the younger generations to keep up with the industry’s pace and to protect themselves from bigger companies that have the capacity to copy their designs in a matter of days.”
“Tranoï is the perfect place to come looking for originality and youth,” said Nicoletta Venturino, men’s wear buyer for the Bergamo-based store Tiziana Fausti. “I don’t come here looking for basics, but for anything that feels unique: co-brandings, special editions, capsule collections and, of course, accessories. The period is still difficult in Italy so we need salable items, and Italian clients love bags and shoes.”
Among the brands that caught her eye were U.S.-based silk tie specialist Title of Work, and Pierre-Louis Mascia, whose silk and jersey scarves are already bestsellers. Béatrice Ioime, commercial director for Mascia, said buyers are redefining luxury through accessories. “Our most popular items this season are the scarves that combine silk and fur. People are looking for colorful prints, eccentricity and what’s unique and fun,” she said.
Other accessories included costume jewelry — Nach’s porcelain, animal-shaped tie pins were particularly popular with buyers — and dandy-inspired hats. This was Florence-based Superduper Hats’ third season at Tranoï, and designer Veronica Cornacchini said the demand for statement hats keeps growing. “Our railroad worker-inspired caps are selling rather well this season, but mostly clients come to us looking for more classic large-brim hats,” she said.
Classic tailoring had a prominent place with the likes of rock ’n’ roll-influenced Belgian brand The Suits, which worked herringbone tweeds, Prince of Wales and houndstooth motifs in a contemporary way. “Formalwear is coming back in a nonformal way,” said Tiziana Cardini, fashion director for La Rinascente in Milan. “It has gotten more subtle and relaxed. I think everybody is trying to find a newer definition of men’s wear.”
Among the avant-garde designers was South Korean-based Byungmun Seo, who has been experimenting with new formulas. “I play with layering, texture and cuts in an otherwise all-black collection. It has been popular with European buyers, not as much with Asians, who tend to look for color.” Nik Thakkar, cofounder of London-based niche label Ada + Nik, agreed: “There are some differences between buyers. Europeans tend to go for conceptual clothes, whereas Americans love statement pieces.” The brand’s collection mixed innovative materials — such as fish leather and wool — in pitch-black biker jackets and coats.