Book your flights — a separate New York Men’s Fashion Week is likely to become a reality this summer.
This story first appeared in the December 4, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America has lined up several sponsors and, if it can secure a title sponsor by January, is ready to pull the trigger, according to market sources.
“We have a little bit of money committed, but we need a little bit more,” said Steven Kolb, chief executive officer of the CFDA. “We have designer, editor and buyer interest,” he said. “There are still a lot of boxes that need to be checked, but we have tentative dates for July of ’15 to be the first one.”
Although the final dates have not yet been set, sources said shows would be held on July 20 to 22, the same time period as the New York trade shows Project, Liberty, MRket and Capsule.
The idea of launching a New York Men’s Fashion Week follows long-running complaints that the men’s shows get overshadowed by women’s in February and September. While the timing is less of a problem in February, since it is only a few weeks after the runway shows in London, Milan and Paris, the September dates come some six weeks after the buying cycle for the industry. Most major and independent retailers attend the trade shows and visit showrooms in July and finalize their buys at the MAGIC Marketplace in Las Vegas in August, meaning shows in September are strictly for show.
Tommy Fazio, president of Project, has been a vocal proponent of a New York Men’s Fashion Week
for several years. He said he recently had a meeting with the CFDA and a group of designers to discuss the issue, “and we all agree that we need a cohesive men’s week.” He said the first will happen the week of July 19, with the initiative starting with runway shows and then transitioning into the trade shows, where the brands could take a booth at The Tents at Project to sell their collections. “CFDA will give them a place to show, and Project will give them the platform to sell,” he said. “Merging communication with commerce just makes sense.”
Sources said CFDA already has money committed from Amazon, DreamWorks and Shinola, although Kolb would not tip his hand by providing any names. “Ideally, we’d like to find someone in grooming, finance, spirits or automotive who wants to be associated with the relaunch of dedicated men’s days,” Kolb said.
He did dispute reports that he is in talks with Cadillac to sign on as the lead sponsor. “They would be awesome, but I haven’t spoken to them,” he said.
The car company has been the primary sponsor of New York Men’s Day, a compilation of presentations spearheaded by Erin Hawker, owner and founder of Agentry PR. For the past several seasons, Hawker has brought emerging men’s brands — Carlos Campos, Ernest Alexander, Lucio Castro and David Hart, among others — to Industria Superstudio to show their new collections. The last round of shows in September featured 10 designers, and Hawker said that, on Feb. 11, she is planning to showcase 12 — six in the morning and six in the evening.
“In July, we will look to increase the number and are planning to show 12 to 14,” she said. “We will work in tandem with the CFDA. We don’t want any conflict. Our MO is to support emerging talent, while the CFDA will get its members,” which are traditionally larger names. “We only need two time slots, 11:00 and 5:00, so we’re ready to work with them on times,” she noted.
She said that even if the CFDA doesn’t manage to garner the financial support necessary to create a men’s-specific market in July, she will host her New York Men’s Day in July, not September, next year. “Based on industry response, it has to change,” she said.
A New York Men’s Fashion Week is unlikely to attract the highest-profile U.S. designers, such as Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors, both of whom now host press and retail presentations in their showrooms over the summer. Rag & Bone and Michael Bastian have also taken to showing off-calendar. But Fazio said the U.S. designers who have taken to showing in Europe — John Varvatos, Calvin Klein and Thom Browne — are supportive of the idea and “would be willing to come back if we can bring the right retailers and international press here.” He said David Lauren, vice chairman of Ralph Lauren, is also supportive and “would be willing to do something,” even if it wasn’t a show.
But many of the designers who have historically shown in New York in September are ready and eager to jump on board.
“We’ve been hoping and praying this will happen,” said Bastian, who said he will show his fall collection in his showroom, as well, but is ready to “jump back on a New York Men’s Fashion Week” in July. “I feel like it’s been close a couple of times before, but this seems like they’re really taking it seriously.”
“Yes, I’ve heard, and, yes, I will be participating,” said Todd Snyder. “I think it’s great for men’s wear, but we need the big guys to support it, as well…Calvin, Varvatos, Ralph.”
“We’ve been in the talks with the CFDA over the past few years. We’re excited about it and would participate,” said Shimon Ovadia, codesigner of Ovadia & Sons.
Daniel Silver, codesigner of Duckie Brown, said, “We deserve a men’s week or a men’s moment every season here in New York City. The question is, can I get the same amount of press coverage as I do showing the first days of the women’s calendar? That’s a question mark. But, certainly, it would be better for sales, especially during the spring season, as we sell in July and show in September and then have to sell in September again.”
“We’ve met with the CFDA a couple of times and loved the idea,” said Public School codesigner Dao-Yi Chow. “They’re still piecing it together and we hope it happens because it’s been a long time coming.”
Shayne Oliver, designer of Hood by Air, the buzzy streetwear brand that will be a special guest at the Pitti Uomo show in January, said, “I’m not opposed to showing in New York in July. But I am thinking, am I showing too much? Pitti is a new level for the brand, but should I be in Europe? Or is it better to do it here in New York? I’m still thinking about it.”
New York Men’s Day would have the support of the other trade-show operators, as well. Sam Ben-Avraham, founder of Liberty Fairs, said that including runway shows would create “very positive energy for the men’s wear industry. It would be awesome. We’ve always wished to have a week like that. It’d be super-supportive, and [we] would be happy to collaborate.”