PARIS — Call it the Macron effect. With Paris men’s fashion week in full swing since Wednesday, retailers and brands say there’s a positive global energy that is helping propel business, boosted by the recent election of President Emmanuel Macron — a man well-connected with the nation’s luxury conglomerates and also contributing to the goodwill toward France.
“I moved to Paris three months ago, and I have to say that, especially since the elections, there is a high level of confidence, trust and energy. I am hearing that from all over the world,” said Balmain’s new chief executive officer Massimo Piombini.
“It’s a global energy that is spreading. There is a global drive,” agreed Pascal Morand, executive president of the Fédération Française de la Couture du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode.
That’s despite Paris being further rattled by an attack on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées on Monday, marking the fifth time in four months that security forces were targeted in the city. Morand said the federation and its members are working with state services and police to ensure safety during the men’s season and the women’s couture shows, which begin July 2.
“The measures might generate some constraints for guests attending the shows, and photo ID may be requested, but it’s for the good of all,” Morand said.
He also highlighted the “stimulating” diversity of the new additions to the men’s calendar including Taiwan’s Angus Chiang, Israel’s Hed Mayner, the Belgian/Kurdish label Namacheko and L.A.’s Enfants Riches Déprimés, which will be showing at Christie’s Paris on June 25. Julius also made a return with a show on Wednesday night. Buzzy Vetements is also hosting a “no-show” event followed by a concert on Saturday night to highlight the look book shot and styled by Demna Gvasalia.
Namacheko, which was founded two years ago by brother-sister design duo Dilan and Lezan Lurr, who have Kurdish origins, is one of the brands on the to-do list of Farfetch men’s buying manager Reece Crisp, with Paris representing his busiest schedule. “The pace goes up a notch. It’s heads down, and into the product,” he said. “With the amount of shows and appointments in the schedule, it’s where I get a stronger read on trends, both for direction and commercially.”
“Lots of exploring to do,” said Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, adding that “heat wave aside” — a reference to Paris’ scorching temperatures that neared 100 degrees on Wednesday but were expected to cool slightly from Friday — he was attending lots of shows “but also plenty of showroom appointments where we scout and view a lot of collections.”
Among the highlights, he mentioned the influx of American designers hitting Paris, including John Elliott, Heron Preston, and Teddy Santis’ Aimé Leon Dore. Tim Coppens and L.A.-based brand Amiri will also be showing, while Harlem native A$AP Bari, a member of the A$AP Mob collective, will present his first collection of cut-and-sew pieces under his Vlone label on Friday in the city’s 1st arrondissement.
Also adding clout to the calendar is the arrival of Alexander McQueen, a brand known for its edgy take on tailoring that — as the week’s second-to-last show — will hopefully deliver some high theatrics. The brand has been showing in London since fall 2013, before that its shows were held in Milan. Since June 2016, the company has been holding by-appointment presentations.
“It’s an interesting decision. Showing in Paris will allow them to take [some distance and new perspective] and have a wider resonance,” said Karen Vernet, general merchandise manager of men’s apparel, homewares and private label at Printemps, Paris. She described the brand’s direction as encompassing “a really good mix between Savile Row tailoring and extreme British creativity.”
The retailer — since opening its Printemps de l’Homme building in Paris in late January — has seen a 30 to 40 percent increase on sales year-on-year, Vernet said, with tailored wear, or more precisely “new, energized suiting,” over performing.
According to Gildas Minvielle, head of the economic observatory at IFM, local department stores have seen an overall 4.5 increase in sales over last year, with unseasonably hot weather contributing to a “strong” sales increase in May across all distribution channels.
Riding the week’s hook-up train, meanwhile, a collaboration between John Elliott and NikeLab Vandal dropped at Colette on Wednesday as the first in a weeklong lineup of initiatives by the sporting goods giant themed around the lifestyle and culture of basketball, looking at the sport and its influence within streetwear and fashion overall.
Thursday saw the presentation at the Museum of Modern Art of the first full men’s and women’s NikeLab x Pigalle capsule, as well as the launch of an exclusive white version of the Nike Special Field Air Force 1 MID at Starcow. On Friday, the NikeLab AirForce 1 Jewel will be launched at The Broken Arm.
There will also be another secret drop on June 25 at NikeLab store in Paris, according to a representative from the company. The tour will wrap on June 28 with the launch of the NikeLab x Converse collaboration at Jordan Bastille.
Among other collaborations to be introduced during the week, Adidas Originals in its Paris showroom will present a hook-up with Japanese label Hender Scheme that will be released this fall. The capsule of three designs is handmade and gender-neutral.
Having unveiled men’s last season, Cédric Charlier on Wednesday, as part of an interactive presentation in his studio in the Marais, presented a unisex line of T-shirts with Fruit of the Loom.
Meanwhile, Erika and Roma Cohen, cofounders of Miami Beach-based multibrand retailer Alchemist, are in town for the introduction of their lifestyle brand that, like their store concept, is based on collaborations with artists, architects and influencers. Spanning men’s and women’s ready-to-wear and fine jewelry, the collection will bow on June 25 at a pop-up at Le Café Corrazza 1787 in the arcades of the Palais Royal, and will be shown in a private salon above the café by appointment.
The Alchemist pop-up will offer Ladurée macarons customized by New York-based artist Othelo Gervacio and treats by Maisie Café as well as a range of limited-edition creations in collaboration with designers including Thierry Lasry, Buscemi, Del Toro and Readymade. A capsule of customized authentic guayaberas, Cuban men’s shirts, by Chrome Hearts will also be on sale exclusively during the five-day event.
Despite the tense geopolitical climate, Paris men’s week’s most promising green-shoots cited dynamic growth. They’re keeping their heads down. “I feel this has always been around in a way. When we speak to older people who have been in the game longer than us, they had their issues and uncertainties, too,” said Arnaud Faeh, ceo of OAMC. The executive, who cofounded the buzzy label in 2014 with Luke Meier, who is also the new co-creative director of Jil Sander, said that not depending on one market is key to their strategy.
Based between Milan and Paris, the brand, which showed in Paris on Wednesday, counts around 140 retailers, with an even spread between Europe, North America and Asia, and has seen a 60 percent growth rate from season to season despite being very controlled in its choice of partners.
The label is seeing growing demand for its most advanced pieces, such as the shirts with special techniques or incredible fabrics, he said. “I feel like the more we push the boundaries, the more interest we get and the more it works in stores, too.
“We have been turning down accounts, we have a very clear idea of the pace we want to move at,” added Faeh describing OAMC as a long-term project. “We want to establish ourselves as one of the [leading] men’s wear brands in the new luxury world.” The brand’s first store will likely open in Paris next year. “We’re trying to find a new way to do things; we’re not into the idea of a beautiful white marble store where everything feels and looks expensive. We’re trying to think about how we can keep that new luxury feeling in a completely different way.”
AMI Alexandre Mattiussi, which relaunched its web site a few months ago and now delivers worldwide, sees a “huge growth potential for the U.S., Australia and China,” said Nicolas Santi-Weil, ceo of the brand, which presented in a new slot on Thursday, marking the company’s first-ever daytime show.
Among new projects, AMI in March was selected by GQ to represent Europe as part of the title’s Coolest Designers of the Year awards, with a capsule for Gap due to launch in September.
Including sales with pure player retail partners, around 20 percent of the brand’s total revenues are generated online, Santi-Weil said. “For brands today it’s about being globally consistent. There is a big global fight around geo-pricing. Today, with the rise of digital, you can’t fool the clients anymore, you can no longer charge 80 percent more because it’s on another continent. The customer is much more informed, much more educated.”
Among other fast-growing local labels to have gone global, Y/Project, one of this year’s finalists for the ANDAM prize, which presented Wednesday, counts around 230 stores to date, of which only four are based in France.
“Traditionally a young brand would grow in its home market first,” said Gilles Elalouf, the brand’s ceo. Being up against both local competitors and the global players increases the need to stand out from the crowd, he added, but the brand is in good stead. Known for its transformable denim and T-shirts, demand is also strong for the “couture” pieces. “Our thing has always been about adapting techniques from couture to streetwear and vice versa and we plan to continue growing in that direction, especially with the potential of Paris for doing that,” said Elalouf, adding that the aim, nonetheless, is to expand the range of product categories, building on market feedback.
Among the big fish looking to broaden their men’s offering, meanwhile, Balmain is aiming to expand categories and introduce new price points, according to Piombini. Since being acquired by Mayhoola for Investments, the Qatar-based parent of Valentino and Pal Zileri, last June, the “level of ambitions is totally different from before,” he said, with a retail redevelopment, wholesale reinforcement and new category launches under way. New stores are planned for Singapore, Shanghai and L.A. this year.
Among key new growth engines, accessories, a cash-cow category for most of Europe’s luxury fashion houses, will officially launch this season, he said, adding: “There will be a very strong development on shoes and bags for the women’s area, but the men’s will also be strongly reinforced with a shoe collection and new bag shapes.
“We expect men’s to continue growing at a very important rate….We are working on adding more commercial pieces, more daywear and items that talk to a broader audience. The offer will be much more complete, we are covering not only a lot of different end users but also different price points,” he said, adding: “The collection that we will be presenting [on Saturday] at the Hôtel Potocki will include a lot from this new positioning.”
Balmain’s heritage and provenance will remain central to the house’s next chapter. “Balmain, as a French brand, wants to focus all its strategy — and especially its communication strategy — around Paris,” Piombini said. “We’re shooting our new campaign in Paris, we just finished our collaboration with L’Opéra de Paris, and we’re launching the cobranding activity with L’Oréal Paris. It’s a super exciting moment.”
More From Paris Fashion Week Men’s Spring 2018:
Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli Says Goodbye Suit, Hello VLTN: The designer is preparing to unveil a sportswear-driven collection with a new logo that plays on the brand’s classical font.
Pigalle Paris to Present First Full NikeLab Capsule: Creative director Stéphane Ashpool will present the collection at his show at Paris’ Modern Art Museum on Thursday.