New York Fashion Week: Men’s has had trouble gaining a foothold since it was launched by the Council of Fashion Designers of America four years ago. The upcoming fall shows — slated for Feb. 4 to 6 — are facing even bigger challenges. First, an unexpected one-time shift in dates by the trade shows in Las Vegas means that retailers and editors who usually attend both will have to make a choice or abbreviate one or both of the events. Project, Liberty Fairs and Agenda will be held Feb. 5 to 7.
On top of that, many of fashion’s biggest and buzziest names have opted to either hold dual-gender shows or have decamped to other cities. Tom Ford will again hold a men’s and women’s show, as he has in past seasons, at 8 p.m. on Feb. 6, officially ending the men’s shows. The women’s shows kick off with Ralph Lauren on Feb. 7 at 10 a.m.
Also opting for dual-gender shows later in the week are Palm Angels — which is making its New York debut — on Feb. 8; John Elliott on Feb. 9; Opening Ceremony on Feb. 10, and Michael Kors on the final day, Feb. 13.
Calvin Klein, which just parted ways with designer Raf Simons, will sit out this season completely, while Thom Browne has not been swayed to leave Paris and Tommy Hilfiger will be taking his show on the road once again, this time to Paris in February.
Noticeably absent from the calendar are a few men’s brands that have participated nearly every season including Perry Ellis, Billy Reid, Carlos Campos, Bristol and Matiere.
That leaves the official NYFW: Men’s calendar in a less than advantageous position.
It kicks off with Agentry PR’s New York Men’s Day on Feb. 4, where small designers continue to be the focus. There will be five brands showcased at a morning session and another five at an afternoon one — two fewer than in the past. Although some designers have returned — David Hart, Krammer & Stoudt and Descendant of Thieves among them — others are new to the roster. That includes several from Asia or with designers of Asian descent such as Dear Miler, Ka Wa Key and Chan Chit Lo.
Erin Hawker, founder of Agentry, said: “There are a lot more international brands wanting to show in New York. They look at America as a huge expanse and want to launch here.”
While many of the labels at Men’s Day are unknown, Hawker said these “young, emerging brands really bring a fresh attitude” to the week.
Sharing the calendar with Hawker’s brands are two of New York Fashion Week: Men’s biggest names: Joseph Abboud and Todd Snyder.
On Tuesday, Robert Geller has returned, as have Ovadia & Sons, N.Hoolywood, Dyne and Linder.
But Wednesday features many lesser-known names, with the exception of Bode at 11 a.m.
Mark Beckham, vice president of marketing for the CFDA, said the men’s calendar is part of a larger trend among designers to reconfigure the traditional fashion calendar to meet their individual needs.
“The CFDA is here to provide a platform for men’s wear and four years ago we started this at the behest of the industry to support American designers,” he said. “But since then, a number of larger brands decided not to do stand-alone men’s shows and that has had an effect on traditional fashion weeks.”
He pointed to Public School and Tim Coppens as examples of brands that have opted to present differently and lean more toward “drops,” than showing full fall or spring collections on the runway.
“It’s a confluence of different things but they are creating content and buzz that may not be during fashion week,” Beckham said.
Even so, he pointed to a few additions to the official men’s calendar that he hopes will garner attention. These include Keenkee from South Korea, Lukhanyo Mdingi from South Africa and No Sesso, a Los Angeles-based streetwear brand. And Palomo Spain, which created a stir when it showed in New York for the first time three years ago, is also making its return.
Despite reports that CFDA may soon discontinue holding a men’s-only event in New York after this year, Beckham said that the June shows are definitely a go. However, it is still to be determined if CFDA will continue to produce show spaces, he said.
One thing Beckham said the CFDA is working to avoid in the future is the overlap in dates with the Vegas trade shows. “No one wins in a situation like this,” he said. “We met with them [Project] to make sure nothing like this happens again.”