ATLANTA — Significant changes in men’s apparel were evident at the Cobb Show here, as exhibitors addressed the redefined streetwear and urban categories while offering deals and fresh looks to entice cautious buyers.
Merchandise at the show, which ran Jan. 10 to 11 at the Cobb Galleria, reflected a trend toward cleaner lines, more fitted cuts and less overall bling, which some exhibitors attributed to a change in the hip-hop club scene.
Vanessa Vickers, national sales manager for A. Tiziano, a collection-driven line of polos, jackets and pants, reported strong buyer response to striped shirts, neutral shorts and twill jackets for spring-summer, and noted a shift in the urban and streetwear categories.
“The dress code at clubs has changed and that’s changing the fashion,” she said. “You have to dress cleaner on the clubbing scene now and looks are just getting cleaner. Nobody wants to use the word ‘urban’ anymore.…Our line has always been like that; we’ve just been waiting for the market to follow.”
Curt McClintock, vice president of U.S. sales for Konvict, a denim and outerwear line designed by R&B singer and producer Akon, echoed the change.
“The clubbing scene is back on, but now you can’t wear sneakers, hats or heavily embellished jeans,” he said.
Addressing the trend, Konvict’s looks have moved away from bling and loose-fitting cuts toward more tailored, classic styles. McClintock said the two-year-old brand is now tops-driven, citing buyers’ reluctance to carry high-end denim because of cost-cutting.
“[Retailers] are more conscious now,” he said. “They’re making smaller, tighter orders and reordering weekly.”
Although McClintock said the Cobb Show is emerging as a key marketplace for the brand, he warned that buyers are still struggling with tight credit and budget concerns.
Similarly, Ruben Campos, sales manager for denim line Rivet de Cru, said buyers were anxious for deals, seeking markdowns of 20 to 25 percent on immediate goods and writing smaller orders for fall.
“There has been a lot of at-once buying at this show,” Campos said. “[Retailers] aren’t buying as much, but at least they’re buying.”
The brand’s fall looks were more pared down, omitting the line’s signature hardware on the back pockets. Campos said retailers were still looking for destroyed styles but “in more subtle ways.”
Hakan Aydin, sales rep for premium denim line Cipo & Baxx, said Cobb Show traffic was mostly slow but “a few established retailers wrote orders,” focusing primarily on detailed styles with grommets and other hardware.
The line, which launched in Europe in 1996 and broke into the U.S. market eight months ago, is slowly building its business here, said Aydin, who also addressed ambiguity in men’s wear.
“There are so many terminologies thrown around at this show: urban, street, premium contemporary,” he said. “We have premium price points because our denim is highly constructed, and our buyers are selective. They don’t have customers who’ll spend $1,000 on an outfit anymore, but they’re still premium retailers.”
Eddy Rubin, sales rep for Smash and Royal Testament, premium lines of denim, wovens and outerwear, also talked about the distinction among urban, streetwear and contemporary apparel and noted a trend toward fashion-forward styles with a European sensibility in men’s wear.
“The difference is fit,” he said. “We’re a fabric-driven line. The market has been so entrenched in baggy, matchy, urban looks. That’s not fashion. It’s contrived.”