There’s a wrinkle in the planning for New York Fashion Week: Men’s this summer — the trade shows. Retailers and editors who were hoping to see runway shows and walk the trade shows at the same time in July will now need to lengthen their trip.
This story first appeared in the March 12, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
After two years of negotiation and discussion, the Council of Fashion Designers of America this summer will launch a stand-alone showcase for American men’s fashion. New York Fashion Week: Men’s will hold its inaugural shows from July 13 to 16 at Skylight Clarkson Sq in SoHo. This is the week before the array of men’s trade shows — Agenda, Capsule, Liberty Fairs, MRket and Project — is slated to start.
Originally, Project came forward and said it would change its dates to line up with the runway shows. But Project has now reverted to its original dates of July 19 to 21 to align with the other trade shows.
Tommy Fazio, president of Project, explained that it was his quest to “continue to support the retailers and the brands,” that prompted the switch back. “Showing in New York City July 19 to 21 will ensure the retailers have a cohesive shopping experience. We have all come together with the CFDA to work on 2016 so we can make a strong statement.”
Sam Ben-Avraham, founder of Liberty Fairs, doesn’t believe the dates will be an issue since buyers who come to New York tend to do more than just attend trade shows.
“They go shopping and they stay after the shows to go to showroom appointments,” he said. “It’s different in Las Vegas where they usually allocate two or three days and then they’re gone. In New York, it’s usually a week’s worth of travel, and we hope that instead of staying after, they’ll come earlier this time.”
He stressed in the future, the dates will be closer and choosing between the two events won’t be an issue. “We’re trying to condense it and make it tighter,” he said. Ben-Avraham said he and the other trade show operators “believe the men’s fashion week is a good idea. It could really spark something big for men’s wear in the States.” He said he and his colleagues have been working with CFDA for a long time to make a New York men’s fashion week a reality. Although he had hoped the dates for the first event would overlap, a few trade shows were contractually obligated to keep their original dates, so they couldn’t move. And the Modern Assembly group — a consortium that includes all the shows but Project — decided to stick with the July 20 to 22 dates.
“Runway shows should not overlap with trade shows,” he said, pointing to the hefty schedule and varied locations that generally mark most fashion weeks. But they should be closer together. “Next season we’re hoping CFDA will do Thursday, Friday and Saturday and we can do Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, or Monday and Tuesday,” he said. “That will be the new pattern. And those are the conversations we’re having now. We’re working very closely together.”
Deirdre Maloney, co-owner of Capsule, acknowledged that it will be hard to expect retailers and editors to spend 10 days in New York this summer. “But that’s an easy fix and we’re working with Steven [Kolb, CFDA’s chief executive officer] and the CFDA to get our dates aligned going forward.”
She said she has been a “longtime champion of the men’s market,” and believes New York Fashion Week: Men will “be a nice addition to what exists in the landscape.
But expecting retailers to spend over a week in New York might be a stretch for some.
Mario Bisio of Mario’s in Portland, Ore., and Seattle, said he would opt for trade shows over runway shows. “Most men’s runway shows are too advanced, so there’s not really an advantage to our customers for me being there.” He said most of the participants in New York Fashion Week: Men will be smaller contemporary brands and it is of more value for him to see the new collections from the “pillars” of the industry as well as the Italians at the trade shows or their showrooms during men’s market week.
Designers who have committed to participate — although not all with runway shows — include Calvin Klein Collection, Michael Kors, Rag & Bone, Public School, Billy Reid, Todd Snyder, Michael Bastian, Ovadia & Sons, Robert Geller, Duckie Brown, Patrik Ervell, Timo Weiland and Kent & Curwen. Tommy Hilfiger, an early champion of the initiative, will take part in some form.
Bisio said that while he attends runway shows in Europe, he hasn’t attended those in New York in the past. He believes that generally runway shows are more useful for the press and he expects editors and “the majors,” most of whom are based in New York, to embrace the shows. “But if the dates aligned and it was an important brand to me, I’d definitely go,” he said. “And it would be great if we saw something at a show or event that we could take home as a key takeaway for the season.”