New York Fashion Week: Men’s may have wrapped up its most successful edition to date last week but it’s already facing a hurdle for next season: Amazon Fashion, which has been the principal sponsor since the shows started two years ago, has ended its association.
The decision comes even though the web giant is making an evermore aggressive push into fashion, and views it as one of its fastest-growing categories.
Despite Amazon’s move, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, organizers of the shows, is putting a positive spin on things, pointing to the ongoing commitment of at least two of the other sponsors — Cadillac and men’s grooming brand Axe.
“This season of NYFW: Men’s was a creative and commercial success,” the CFDA said in a statement to WWD. “We look forward to the next season taking place July 10 to 13. NYFW: Men’s continues to thrive because of the ongoing commitment of partners such as Cadillac and Axe.”
Samsung is also a sponsor and its participation will continue, said Mark Beckham, business director of Fashion Week for CFDA.
Beckman stressed that even though Amazon’s two-year contract with the men’s shows has ended, the company continues to work with the organization on other projects. He also said CFDA is “having conversations” with other brands to take on the presenting partner role and “we’re confident we’ll be able to find someone who shares our values.”
Kate Dimmock, fashion director for Amazon Fashion, said her company’s association with NYFW: Men’s was intended “to support CFDA’s mission to help solve a real business challenge facing the men’s wear industry. We’re pleased to see the positive impact of our combined efforts after only four seasons.”
She said men’s wear “continues to be one of our strongest categories, but that wasn’t the only motivation for our involvement. We wanted to help the CFDA create a formidable platform for both established and emerging designers to garner even more exposure — and we think they’ve done just that.”
And although the company is moving on, Dimmock said: “While this season will be our last as presenting sponsor, we value our relationship with the CFDA and look forward to working on even more exciting projects together.”
The shows, which wrapped up on Thursday night, drew praise from retailers this season, thanks in part to the addition of several high-profile brands including Raf Simons and Hugo Boss, as well as a number of notable newcomers. The eclectic mix of brands — everything from Palomo Spain and Rochambeau to Joseph Abboud and Todd Snyder — was a highlight for many retailers.
A large number of international editors were also drawn to the shows this time — many of whom were flown in by the CFDA or Hugo Boss — with Steven Kolb, chief executive officer of CFDA, saying more than 50 members of the international press were in attendance. However, international buyers were few and far between.
Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director for Neiman Marcus, said the shows “continue to improve.” He pointed in particular to Simons’ first show in New York, saying the Belgian designer “really raised the bar with his collection, his model casting, his soundtrack and his space. He truly transported me to somewhere else.”
He also liked Ovadia & Sons, which was “solid with a nod to punk, which is something I feel strongly about. They cycled out of the mid-Seventies to late-Seventies, which feels right for the moment.” He also liked Hugo Boss, whose presentation he deemed “superlative.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Downing said the “rebellious attitude of punk” was well represented at the shows, singling out Rochambeau as among those who did it best.
In terms of trends, he said velvet and “sleek corduroy” provided a richness to the season, and the shades of pink in many lines “piqued by eye, although I wanted more rich colors.”
Durand Guion, vice president and men’s fashion director for Macy’s, pointed to Krammer & Stoudt’s “precise styling and on-trend details,” as well as David Hart’s tailored clothing as highlights of the week. “The energy around Nautica’s reworking of the brand’s iconic pieces and the collaboration with Lil Yachty was great,” he said, adding: “Patrik Ervell’s return to NYFW: Men’s was inspiring and pushed the envelope in all the right ways. Todd Snyder is a true showman and shines a bright spotlight on American sportswear.”
In terms of trends, he pointed to the “return of corduroy, which we spotted at Pitti and on the Milan runways — but interpreted in a more commercial way by New York designers.” He also said the “use of velvet with more applications to everyday dressing was very interesting.” And he liked the “fuller, looser silhouette” in pants.
Guion said in general, this round of shows was “refined and improved upon,” but he challenged the “smaller and newer brands to have a game plan on how to create business opportunities beyond the shows and presentations.”
Kevin Harter, vice president of fashion direction for Bloomingdale’s, said the schedule flowed nicely and there was little down time between shows, which he appreciated. He was impressed with the “great balance of designers. John Elliot and Chris Stamp of Stampd continue to elevate their brands and are positioning themselves as top American designers. On the flip side, established designers such as Billy Reid, John Varvatos and Todd Snyder showcased their best collections in seasons.”
The season “saw a continuation of some of our key trends that drive the business in the streetwear category such as bombers, track jackets and pants, and there were great puffer jackets shown on the runway. We also see this new relaxed tailoring trend as a big opportunity to introduce new categories to our customer. John Elliot really led the way by introducing the strong suiting in his collection and we feel that the younger guy will have more of a desire to start dressing up again,” Harter said.
Eric Jennings, vice president and fashion director for Saks Fifth Avenue, said his standouts included the handwork of Bode, Palomo Spain’s “sensual androgyny,” Stampd and “the high-energy grand finale of John Varvatos.”
“Overall, the week had a good balance of emerging new brands as well as established houses like Hugo Boss and Joseph Abboud. The new guards of New York didn’t disappoint either with strong collections from Billy Reid, Ovadia & Sons and cult favorite John Elliot,” he added.
Jennings said he has reached out to a handful of new brands to get a closer look and “discuss potential partnerships. At this point in the season after all the other cities, it becomes clear how much it takes to cut through the noise and repetition in the market. However, the hidden gems were certainly there this week in New York for those who put in the time.”
In terms of trends, Jennings pointed to the “punk-street-skate vibe,” the addition of color and fabrics that included corduroy, velvet and Polarfleece. “Key pieces are zip-front tops, oversized puffers, and trucker jackets, which were all prevalent on the runway. In footwear, it’s all about the thick-soled sneaker and combat boots. For accessories, the must-have items are beanies, pendant necklaces and tinted glasses.”
Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director for Bergdorf Goodman, said it was a “solid edition with some notable and exciting additions to the schedule that really amplified interest, as well as international attendance. New New York City resident Raf Simons’ choosing to stage his namesake brand’s runway show here really gave some gravitas to the week’s schedule, and it was a truly moving, wonderful show with heart (also featured graphically on sweaters in an homage to his new hometown) and his always-expert play on proportion that has become such a big theme this season.”
Pask also pointed to the debuts of Bode and Jahnkoy as “brilliantly realized, deeply personal presentations that showcased two very exciting new voices on the men’s wear scene.” John Elliott and Chris Stamp of Stampd “have really matured as designers, each presenting great collections in ambitious, well-executed shows that highlighted their very individual takes on a relaxed, athletically influenced yet elevated approach to men’s wear,” he said, adding that Todd Snyder and Billy Reid also stood out for their modern take on American classics.
“Texture, seen in velvet, corduroy and Polarfleece fabrications, figured prominently in many collections seen here. Drop shoulders, bigger volumes, and proportion play reminiscent of the early Nineties was also a compelling theme seen throughout the European shows as well as here in New York City,” Pask said.
Nelson Mui, vice president and men’s fashion director for Hudson’s Bay Co., liked the “great creative energy and strong, diverse roster of shows” this season. “Some of the installations had a raw, gritty, power to them that harkened back to the days before fashion was corporate and superproduced. Whether it was the backdrop of zombie-esque figures at Rochambeau, or the ‘Martian’ landscape at Nick Graham and a surprise appearance with Buzz Aldrin, or a person narrating the story at Krammer & Stoudt, you never knew what to expect.”
In terms of designers, he pointed to Simons as a favorite. “His New York debut was the highly anticipated show and it didn’t disappoint. Signature Raf with an ode to New York, in line with the punk mood that New York men’s designers are feeling.” He also liked Represent, Stampd, Billy Reid, Maiden Noir and John Varvatos. He predicted that Stamp’d and Represent “are going to be huge” with their street-influenced collections, elevated design and attitude.”
Tom Kalenderian, executive vice president of men’s for Barneys New York, said: “If attendance is any indication, and the outpouring of interest and [numbers] of young people lining up to get into shows, all this points to an uptick in the general interest in men’s and the subsequent growth this will stimulate.”
He said the week was “invigorating” thanks in part to Raf Simons joining the calendar. “Raf, true to his codes, delivered a powerful statement with his show, mixing with ease, both a sense of timeless luxury along with the punkish iconography true to his core.”
He also pointed to John Elliott, Ovadia & Sons and John Varvatos as standouts, pointing in particular to Varvatos’ “confident grasp on his customer with his signature looks.” In terms of newcomers, he sees promise from brands such as Stampd, Willy Chavarria, Deveaux and Dyne.
Of the strongest trends of the season, he said outerwear was “the key item” and looked best in short bombers or long topcoats paired with joggers, hoodies or fuller trousers with small pleats.
In terms of color, he liked the “gradation of pink to purple to aubergine, all a nice follow-up to the rich burgundy shades of last year. Given all the olive drab, black, navy and kakhi base colors in the men’s wear today, the purple seems to be a nice punctuation among all these ‘uniform’ shades.”
Nick Wooster, men’s fashion director for Forty Five Ten in Dallas, called NYFW: Men’s “a mixed bag: outstanding, outlandish, controversial and commercial. The outstanding show and what New York needed was Raf Simons. I believe his perfectly conceived show has solidified his debut for Calvin Klein as the most coveted ticket of [New York Fashion Week].” As far as over-the-top brands, he said it was a “tie between Rochambeau and Palomo Spain.” He also liked John Elliott, Todd Snyder and Dim Mak, which he said was “the most inspiring presentation.”
In terms of new categories, Wooster said: “I’m afraid the coat has replaced the jacket as the most important category in a man’s wardrobe. This is the season of coats and corduroy.” But with all the changes in men’s wear and fashion in general, NYFW: Men’s needs “a major anchor to emerge. Who better than Nike to present something spectacular and own the week.”