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PARIS — A strong gust of bold fashions on Paris runways left retailers optimistic they can keep fanning strong growth in men’s wear.

This story first appeared in the July 2, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“We have had strong momentum with our men’s business and we are optimistic in regards to the remainder of the year,” said Kevin Harter, vice president and fashion director for men’s at Bloomingdale’s. “Due to the addition of some new collections, our budgets will be up in Paris.”

“Business is really strong. We’re trading with double-digit growth compared with last year, and our budgets will reflect that,” concurred Stephen Ayres, head of fashion at Liberty London. “We do 90 percent of our designer business in Paris.”

RELATED STORY: Paris Men’s Spring Collections 2014 >>

Buyers liked the athletic and Fifties influences, along with floral prints, sweatshirts, roomier pants, Bermuda shorts and an eclectic palette. Collections by Berluti, Givenchy, Dries Van Noten, Valentino and Kris Van Assche were widely praised.

“I think that the most important message in men’s fashion right now is that men want ‘fashion,’” said Jeffrey Kalinsky, executive vice president of designer merchandising at Seattle-based Nordstrom. “Fashion must be compelling and original for our customers to want to buy it. The clear winners are the designers who really thought outside the box.”

Some buyers went so far as to say that Paris trumped Milan with a more vibrant fashion offering and a richer supply of new brands.

Here’s more of what retailers had to say:

Tancrède de Lalun, general merchandise manager of men’s and women’s apparel, Printemps, Paris:

Trendspotting: “We have seen a lot of short pants and Bermuda shorts, often paired with socks and sandals, which is a fashion statement, but not easy on the street. Prints are very important this season, be it floral, camouflage or Asian. The shapes are loose. There is also a lot of layering going on.”

Sound off: “Paris is the place for fashion expression. It’s rich in trends and boasts a lot of variety.”

Favorite collections: Dries Van Noten, Berluti, Lanvin.

Eric Jennings, vice president and fashion director, men’s wear, Saks Fifth Avenue, New York:

Trendspotting: “There is a stronger statement of color, in addition to graphic, black and white looks. We see botanical and jungle prints as well as cool indigo denim. Denim-imitating fabrics come in beautiful shades of blue and are mixed with other materials, which makes them look fresh. As for silhouettes, shorter length prevails for pants and jackets. Brands play with volume and proportions: It’s slim on top and full on the bottom or vice versa.

Sound off: “After the somberness of Milan, Paris feels vibrant, bold and confident. It feels like spring. Historically, the bulk of our business is in Milan, but we are now making significant investments in new brands, and they are all coming out of Paris.”

Favorite collections: Valentino, Haider Ackermann, Ami, Berluti.

Tiziana Cardini, fashion director, La Rinascente, Milan:

Trendspotting: “We’ve seen a softer sensibility overall, and a very interesting mix between sportswear and a kind of romantic feeling, which I find very appealing because it gives an edge to the collections.”

Sound off: “A strong point for men’s wear shows here in Paris is that every show is a strong statement. It’s fashion proposed in a more complex and compelling way.”

Favorite collections: Saint Laurent, Comme des Garçons, Dries Van Noten, Raf Simons.

Jason Broderick, general merchandise manager for men’s wear and fine watches, Harrods, London:

Trendspotting: “The flower prints are rather strong. On top of that, femininity was brought into a lot of the collections — through color, through lightweight fabrics, but also through shape, particularly with the short shorts at Lanvin.”

Sound off: “I can definitely say we are growing our business here from the Parisian brands. Berluti has definitely continued to wow the industry with its ability to create the most luxurious French brand in the men’s wear market that I have seen in some time.”

Favorite collections: Givenchy, Balmain, Saint Laurent.

Tom Kalenderian, general merchandise manager, executive vice president men’s and Chelsea Passage, Barneys New York:

Trendspotting: “The bohemian vibe of Paris reflects the mood of men’s more than ever. With beautiful colors and strong prints at the forefront, the use of leather in ready-to-wear and fabrics with shine remain memorable. Sneakers remain strong among the footwear offering. In leather goods, the clutch is the new bag.”

Sound off: “The Paris collections are a strong opportunity for growth, many with double-digit projections for next year. Designers working in Paris are truly creating wardrobes that reflect the varied lifestyles of men today. The strong tendency towards casual clothes has had a smart turn towards integrating more formal pieces.”

Favorite collections: “The Paris collections were beautiful; a special nod to the welcome return of Haider Ackermann and his luxe bohemian dandy cannot go without strong mention.”

Toby Bateman, buying director, Mr Porter, London:

Trendspotting: “Floral prints — big scale and tropical feeling; a neutral palette of stones and beige in more tailored pieces; sport influences [and] streetwear, lots of technical fabrics, bonded fabrications to create a sporty feel; shorts — shown by most designers with formal black socks and formal shoes, and jumpsuits.”

Sound off: “[I am] reasonably confident about spring-summer 2014 overall. Budgets are up, and business is good and growing.”

Favorite collections: Ann Demeulemeester, Lanvin, Sacai.

Emmanuel de Bayser, owner and buyer, The Corner, Berlin:

Trendspotting: “It’s prints all over, but Dries Van Noten’s are the ones I’m going to buy. They are artful, but don’t look forced. Also, street influences designers more than the other way around. Saint Laurent in itself is a trend. That rockabilly-punk combo sells extremely well.”

Sound off: “Business is extremely positive; we will buy twice as much as three seasons ago. Compared to Milan, Paris is highly individualistic. There is a lot of variety here. While everyone wants to produce in Italy because of its savoir-faire, Paris provides inspiration and creativity.”

Favorite collections: Dries Van Noten, Saint Laurent.

Jean-Benoit Evrard, buyer,, Paris:

Trendspotting: “Wider fits, especially in pants. I liked the wider pants at Christophe Lemaire and Damir Doma.”

Sound off: “I thought the season was not as strong as usual when looked at overall. I thought John Galliano was very beautiful; I was happy to see the wider, almost ‘teenager’ silhouette there, and I think I am not the only one who is pleased to see the name emerging again.”

Favorite collections: Kris Van Assche, Christophe Lemaire, Valentino, Lanvin, Ami.

Jimmy Chan, merchandising manager, men’s division, Swank, Hong Kong:

Trendspotting: Monotone, black and white, wintery colors and oversize sweatshirts in all fabrications and prints.

Sound off: “Every designer has his own philosophy, which made for a dynamic season.”

Favorite collections: Kris Van Assche, Balmain.

Kevin Harter, vice president and fashion director for men’s, Bloomingdale’s:

Trendspotting: “Many collections seemed to have taken inspiration from the Fifties, interpreting classics from that era in a very modern way, such as Louis Vuitton’s luxurious outerwear and suits. Floral prints seemed to be everywhere. Even though we witnessed some strong pops of colors, black and white as well as indigo took center stage.”

Sound off: “Paris continues to be a city of discovery. There were amazing presentations such as Berluti; you walked away in awe.”

Favorite collections: Berluti, Carven, Miharayasuhiro, Louis Vuitton.

Stephen Ayres, head of fashion, Liberty London:

Trendspotting: “Florals, but not in such a pretty way, they were darker. Because of our heritage, our customer reacts really well to prints, especially florals. Monochrome was pretty heavy, which is unusual for spring. Sportswear was strong, and the sweatshirt is really key. Putting denim and chambray into a more subtle wardrobe, like at Valentino, customers respond well to that, because it’s easy to adopt into your wardrobe.”

Sound off: “A lot of the shows seemed to be on the outskirts of Paris this season, which is problematic when you have such a packed schedule already.”

Favorite collections: Dries Van Noten, Valentino, Givenchy.

Matthew Singer, men’s fashion director, Neiman Marcus Group:

Sound off: “There is so much newness and excitement in Paris — an energy that can’t be matched, from the established fashion houses to the new up-and-comers.”

Favorite collections: Berluti, Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Dries Van Noten.


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