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Men'sWeek issue 07/12/2012

PARIS — Treading cautiously following a mixed year in sales, price proved the make-or-break factor for buyers attending the recent Capsule and Tranoï men’s fairs in Paris, though it didn’t stop creativity and a positive outlook from triumphing.

This story first appeared in the July 12, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Buyers attending the show in a new, larger venue located at the Cité de la Mode, kept their budgets mostly stable and praised the array of summery colors and creative prints on offer. Following the modern tailoring trend, classic silhouettes carried subtle fashion details and whimsical twists.

“We are experiencing a great men’s wear momentum, and I expect that to continue. I’m really positive,” said Bloomingdale’s vice president of men’s fashion, Kevin Harter, whose budget was up “slightly. I think this is the best Capsule I’ve ever been to in Paris,” he enthused, citing “really fresh new trends,” including “stronger patterns,” and “more sophisticated coloring that is still bright,” like a prevalent sun palette.

Courting the average, cash-tight male who tends mainly to shop based on need, vendors consistently offered multiuse, high-value items with special details that bypassed seasonal trends. Light jackets transformed into warmer coats, while simple business shirts with interchangeable cuffs and collars could also work for a dinner date.

At Tranoï, Norwegian Rain’s popular line of slim, light, highly technical and eco-friendly coats with breathable waterproofing oozed elegance. Each item had detailed tailoring for multiuse fits, and hidden magnets fastened sweeping, face-framing collars. “This is the result of daily life in Norway, where, even if the weather is stormy, we don’t want to look it. We want to stay comfortable and fashionable,” said codesigner Alexander Helle.

Wanda R. Colon, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of men’s Co-op for Barneys New York, lauded Norwegian Rain’s “really sophisticated aesthetic and phenomenal fabric choices.

“We’re still focusing on the tailoring part of our business, and we really want to dress up our casualwear,” she said. “You can dress [a tailored look] to go with chinos or business attire.”

At Tranoï, young Parisian brand La Comédie Humaine launched its men’s wear line inspired by Balzac and 19th-century etchings.

Ruling vibes at Capsule included the Fifties and Sixties American surfer trend, awash with tropical prints, as well as playful African tribal themes. High-waisted rolled-up trousers with pleats were widespread, along with Bermudas.

Hentsch Man introduced its own Hawaiian prints, plus “James Dean-y details” on shirts such as a special comb pocket, touching on a trend of unusually shaped pockets for traveling men.

Both shows emphasized smart, light preppy looks. Other trends included neon pops on accessories, balanced with washed linens. Structured, minimalist leather bags were popular.

Tranoï this season also hosted a catwalk show by Pierre Cardin, as the first guest of honor in the fair’s new program of fashion shows. Next fall, Cardin will show a new line and an exhibit at Tranoï women’s.

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