New York Fashion Week: Men’s is experiencing some growing pains in its sophomore year.
As the Council of Fashion Designers of America readies the second edition of its men’s-only shows, some notable names have jumped on board while others have decided to chart their own path.
The shows will be held Feb. 1 to 4, a little over a week after the Paris men’s shows wrap up and a short time before the women’s fashion calendar starts on Feb. 11.
The opening and closing acts are different this time, with Joseph Abboud stepping up to begin the event and Todd Snyder ending the week.
In July at the inaugural edition, Thom Browne offered up a stylized presentation of his tailored clothing collection to start things off but kept his full runway show in Paris. John Varvatos took the plunge and returned to America from Milan for his first show after an eight-year hiatus.
This time, Browne will stay in Paris and Varvatos will remain in New York, but at a venue other than the official show site, according to Steven Kolb, the CFDA’s chief executive officer.
Other names from last season that have not yet signed on for February — at least at this point — are Ralph Lauren, Public School, Rag & Bone and Michael Bastian.
Kolb said the final schedule is not set, but he’s in the midst of “finalizing” the details with Ralph Lauren on “format and timing.” In July, Lauren held a presentation for his men’s Polo collection in his Midtown showroom. He presented his men’s Purple Label collection in June at his new showroom in Milan.
Rag & Bone is “in the process of figuring out what’s right for them,” Kolb said, “but they haven’t walked away from men’s.” A spokeswoman said the brand is finalizing its plans for the season and will provide details later.
Public School, whose designers Kolb called “the two busiest people in fashion,” is expected to participate in some way, but not with a runway show. “They’re thinking of an idea that is out of the box,” he said. A spokesperson said the company would reveal its plan for its fall show after the holidays.
Kolb said Bastian has opted for a showroom presentation and market appointments this season rather than a runway show.
Plenty of brands are once again embracing the men’s-only event. Among those who have committed to participate are Billy Reid, Calvin Klein Collection, Coach, Duckie Brown, Greg Lauren, Hickey Freeman, J.Lindeberg, John Elliott, Michael Kors, Nautica, Orley, Theory, Tim Coppens, Timo Weiland, Ovadia & Sons and Tommy Hilfiger.
Kolb said the shows will have “roughly the same number of participants as last time,” which was around 51. The breakdown of shows versus presentations is not yet known, he said, and that is up to the designers to decide.
He admitted “this season is a challenge because of the timing and how close it is to the women’s shows. If you have men’s and women’s, you really have to juggle to handle two shows so close to one another.” As a result, some dual-gender brands may opt to show with the women’s designers a week or so later.
This conundrum also necessitated a change in venue. The shows will take place at Skylight Clarkson North, a block north from Skylight Clarkson Sq where they were held in July. Kolb said the space is slightly bigger but the “logistical layout” and “chill environment” that marked the first season will remain.
Kolb called Abboud a “celebrated American designer” who is “influential and has a point of view that is very specific and understandable. He brings a sense of establishment to the effort that will enhance season two.”
Abboud said this will mark his return to the runway after 15 years. The last show in which he was personally involved was in 2000. He said this show will highlight his upper-tier Joseph Abboud Collection tailored clothing, which is made in the brand’s factory in New Bedford, Mass.
He is also partnering with other American brands including Rawlings, which is making bags; Albertus Swanepoel, which is making hats; Barbara Blank, which is making ties; Aston Leather, which is making shearling outerwear; Allen Edmonds, which is making footwear, and Kobold, which is making watches.
“Since we’re opening American men’s fashion week, the idea is that this will be a tribute and testimony to American manufacturing,” Abboud said.
Kolb said tapping Snyder to close the shows indicates the breadth of American men’s wear. “Todd is like the big brother of the new generation,” he said. “He’s a little older and has a very sensible approach to business. And he stands out to us as someone who has broken through.”
Snyder said this is just a cap to a “very good year” for the brand — it was recently sold to American Eagle Outfitters for $11 million — and he’s eager to close the show. “It’s such an honor,” he said.
In terms of sponsors, Kolb said all but one has returned including Amazon Fashion, Cadillac, Axe, Shinola, The New York Times, Loews Hotels, Fashion GPS and Dockers. Dreamworks was involved last season, but it was only intended as a onetime sponsorship, he said.
Dockers has also returned as a sponsor and will underwrite the emerging designer venue, Platform 3, for the second time. This will showcase nine designers, six new names and three returning ones. New designers are Brett Johnson, Devon Halfnight LeFlufy, Kenneth Ning, Second/Layer, Stamp and Ryan Knew. The returning designers are Engineered for Motion, Gypsy Sport and Ricardo Seco.
The brand will also host the opening night party on Feb. 1 at an event that will serve as a celebration of Dockers’ 30th anniversary.
Once again, Agentry PR’s fifth annual New York Menswear Day will be held the day before the CFDA shows start. Held at Industria Superstudio on Washington Street, 12 designers will participate — six in the morning and six in the afternoon. They are Boyswear, Chapter, CWST, David Hart, Garciavelez, Hvrminn, Krammer & Stoudt, Lucio Castro, Matiere, Max ’n Chester, Plac and Robert James. The brands will also be shown in a special location at the Liberty Fairs trade show the week before.
“Every year we see the level of designer participation heighten and press coverage expand,” said Erin Hawker, founder of New York Menswear Day. “We are at an exhilarating time in the industry as there is finally a renewed focus on men’s wear talent. It’s so gratifying to be able to help both up-and-coming designers and those who are already established expand their reach, gain exposure and realize their creative and business goals in this growing fashion world.”
Kolb said CFDA will once again fly in international editors to attend the shows, “probably more than last time,” and there will be a marketing campaign launching later this month that will focus on street style.