LAS VEGAS — It’s time to get creative.
Yes, the retail business is tough, but there are ways to combat the malaise: ferret out interesting new products, hold entertaining and provocative events in-store — whatever it takes to draw customers in.
Despite the rough environment, retailers walking the shows kept an upbeat attitude as they scoured the aisles for men’s products that would attract shoppers next spring.
At the Doneger Group presentation on the opening day of the Project show, the advice was to “review, renew and remix.” For spring, that translates into a slightly more slouchy silhouette in bottoms, tracksuits, utility details in tops and bottoms, performance outerwear, preppy polos, souvenir jackets, soft clothing, a color palette in various shades of pink and nautical influences in sportswear.
“The old perception that men’s wear doesn’t change quickly is not true,” said Patty Leto, senior vice president of merchandising for Doneger. “The consumer is willing to experiment and his desire for newness continues to drive business.” Stores need to review the fashion direction they’re offering, renew their floors with updated styles, fabrics and colors, and remix with new ideas, she said.
Daniel Love, president of Beall’s Department Stores in Bradenton, Fla., acknowledged that business has been tough in the department store division — the company operates 72 department stores and 440 outlets — but things are starting to look up. “The last three months have been better,” he said. “The things we’re working on are taking hold.”
He said the company is zeroing in on a coastal Floridian message — bright, casual-skewed product — that differentiates it from other stores.
“To stay relevant, we have to do a good job in our niche,” he said. “But we’re feeling better about the future.”
Tom Nystrom, general merchandise manager of men’s for Belk, was shopping for stretch properties in tailored clothing as well as new fashion accessories. “We’re looking for the next big thing,” he said.
In all categories, Nystrom said Belk is thinking about evolving its mix to be relevant one to two years down the road. “With today’s fast fashion, categories need to be planned way out,” he said. That being said, men’s is the best-performing category in the company today, led by basics.
Teri Connor, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of men’s sportswear for Bon-Ton Stores Inc., said she was “super excited” with the performance of the men’s division at her store as well. “There’s a lot of action that will lead to top-line sales.” Among the bestsellers are denim, young men’s and activewear, she said, led by technological advances such as stretch that “allows the consumer to be comfortable while still looking fashionable.”
Mixing and matching casual and career apparel is “creating a new wardrobe” as well, she added, as guys seek to express their individuality.
As a result, she was seeking pieces that would fit that bill and at the shows, she found “a lot of reasons to buy.”
Here are a few of the highlights from the Las Vegas shows:
Brand: Billy Reid
Designer: Billy Reid
Inspiration: The Alabama-based designer’s love affair with fabrics and patterns continued for spring where he used Italian linen in blazers and emblazoned sport shirts with custom prints that included leaves, oysters and peacocks. The color palette was soft with tans and light blues among the offerings.
Key pieces: A reverse jacquard camp shirt with a palm print, a double-faced reversible T-shirt with articulated stitch detailing and swimwear in prints or solids.
Price points: Shirts retail for under $200; shorts are around $100; knitwear is $250 to $350, and blazers are $500 to $600.
Designer: Hayati Banastey, creative director
Inspiration: The spring collection was inspired by India and a bohemian look with shirts featuring flowy fits and rich desert-inspired colors such as spice red, teal and curry complementing the indigo dyes. The brand, which started in 2008 as Just a Cheap Shirt, a low-cost alternative to the classic button-down, has since expanded into a variety of other classifications including jackets, pants, swimwear, shorts and outerwear.
Key pieces: Souvenir jackets with tiger or peacock motifs, linen tunics, classic wovens and oxfords, a suede bomber, short-sleeve plaids and madras print wovens and utility-bottoms. There also is a slim-fit linen short suit embellished with a patch of an elephant on the pocket.
Price points: Shirts and bottoms retail for $99 to $129; outerwear is $149 to $299, and the suede bomber tops out at $650.
Designer: Ryota Takahashi
Inspiration: Drifter, which was founded by Bada Kim, chief executive officer, in 2001, started out with graphic T-shirts before moving into streetwear. Now the line, which is all designed and produced in Compton, Calif. — Kim’s family is in the manufacturing business — has a new Japanese designer, Ryota Takahashi, who is lending the assortment a more-contemporary slant. This is his second offering for the men’s and women’s brand, which is sold in retailers including Nordstrom, American Rag, Alchemist and Selfridges.
Key styles: The spring line was influenced by Japanese military silhouettes. This translated to cargo shorts, sweatshirts with subtle distressing, dip-dye shirts, thin Japanese denim and drop crotch sweatpants.
Price points: The collection ranges from $100 to $1,200.
Brand: AG Jeans
Inspiration: The French New Wave and surf were the main references for the spring collection.
Key styles: AG Jeans continues to expand its assortment beyond denim with striped crew neck T-shirts made from slub jersey, a field jacket constructed with Italian cotton canvas, cashmere-blend novelty sweaters, a vintage-inspired T-shirt with a wider neckline and a suede bomber jacket. On the denim side, the brand showed its Stockton silhouette that has a 12-inch opening — its slimmest men’s style — along with the Dylan, which is slim but still relaxed, and the Apex, which features a roomier, cropped fit. AG also showed its Indigo capsule collection, a unisex line that launched for fall and is 20 percent more expensive than AG’s core line.
Price points: Denim retails from $180 to $260; knit tops are priced from $139 to $228; leather jackets retail around $850, and denim jackets retail around $240.
Brand: Sailors & Brides
Inspiration: The brand traces its roots to the late Nineties in Annapolis, Md., by two British sailors and an Australian entrepreneur who were frustrated by their inability to find a proper marine jacket. Now owned by a German company, the brand is targeted to the world traveler with its outerwear infused with vintage craftsmanship combined with functionality.
Key pieces: Some 70 percent of the line’s jackets are waterproof and many have stretch properties. The soft shell California jacket and a quilted vest in nylon twill are wave- and windproof and breathable with seam-sealed zippers. There are also lightweight field jackets updated with modern styling and details.
Price points: The outerwear ranges from $199 to $499 with the average selling for around $299.
Brand: Res Ipsa
Designers: Odini Gogo and Josh Moore
Inspiration: Odini Gogo and Josh Moore, two former lawyers, started this Atlanta-based men’s line two years ago with three-inch ties, but during a trip to Istanbul they met a store owner who produced kilim rugs — he also used to lived in Georgia — and asked him to make footwear, handbags and other accessories for their brand. Gogo said the assortment, which is carried in more than 50 stores in the Southeast, will continue to utilize makers from other countries to help grow the line. They recently started working with a women’s tribe in Kenya to create beaded belts.
Key styles: Slip-on loafers and sneakers, dopp kits, weekender bags, wallets belts, ties and backpacks.
Prices: Shoes range from $145 to $275; belts retail at $145; the weekender bag is priced at $495, and the backpack retails at $365.
Brand: Fortune Goods
Inspiration: Jon Sneden and Carson Monahan have an inherent appreciation for vintage product and a desire to give back. With that as a backdrop, they spent three years finding — and friending — the members of Vietnam’s Montagnard Tribe. These warriors who aided the U.S. Special Forces during the war created handcrafted bracelets and beadwork that they shared with their brothers in arms. Fortune Goods commissions the descendants of these warriors, many of which have relocated to the U.S., to create their distinct line of accessories.
Key styles: Fortune offers steel, copper and brass bracelets hand cut, shaped and carved by the Montagnards and etched with symbols that refer to luck, life and death. Each bracelet is packed in original Vietnam-era waterproof magazine surrender bags. The beaded necklaces are created from colorful Japanese Toho glass seed beads in traditional patterns. There are also vintage Zippo lighters from the Sixties and Seventies that are etched by the tribe.
Price points: The bracelets retail for $95 and the beadwork runs from $55 to $95. The Zippo lighters are $120.
Inspiration: Since its founding three years ago, the Los Angeles-based brand has sought to provide sports-oriented apparel with performance attributes but nonconventional styling. The spring collection is titled Hinterland to indicate that it operates on the outskirts of fashion and function. To wit, while the shorts, T-shirts, pants and jackets are all appropriate for running and cycling, they also look good enough to wear out to dinner when the workout is done. The spring apparel collection includes pieces with Scandinavian and Japanese influences as well, further moving the line into a more fashion-forward direction. In addition to apparel, Brandblack also offers a collection of footwear with a similar aesthetic.
Key styles: A lightweight hooded nylon Windbreaker with reflective detailing is also offered in a bonded cotton for spring. Running shorts feature an interior compression panel, a football jersey is seam-sealed with reflective side panels, and there’s an updated chino with snap-closure cuffs and a Velcro waist cinch.
Price points: Shorts retail from $60 to $120; moisture-wicking T-shirts are $40 to $80, a track jacket is $90, and the bonded cotton hooded jacket is $200.
Designer: Matthias Garske
Inspiration: Matthias Garske spent 21 years working as a buyer at Braun, a multibrand store with two locations in Hamburg, Germany, before introducing this line, which is produced by the retailer. Garske noticed a void for elevated clothes that didn’t feel too old and aimed to fill it with 04651, which is the area code for Sylt, an island in north Germany. The collection, which is also sold in 50 stores across Europe, is in its third season.
Key styles: Garske said the spring collection was created around “a trip in a bag” philosophy. He produced pieces that could transition from the beach to the bar including a terrycloth blazer and terry polo with mother-of-pearl buttons, nylon swim shorts and a T-shirt covered in a tile print that’s signature to Northern Europe, along with cashmere sweaters. The collection also includes footwear, duffel bags and a canvas beach bag with a nylon interior.
Price points: Cashmere retails around $399; knit shirts for $199; jackets are priced around $450, and bottoms for around $250.
Brand: Tintoria Mattei
Inspiration: This Italian men’s shirt brand was introduced in 2010 by Italian manufacturer Gruppo Mattei. The line, which is sold in retailers including Fred Segal, is known for its shirts made from pre-washed cotton and linen fabrics that feature unique prints.
Key styles: For spring, the brand has partnered with fabric supplier Albiate on a line of shirts with exclusive prints that range from dip-dye gingham and classic pajama stripes to floral prints and polka dots merged with stripes.
Price points: The collection retails from $200 to $250.
Inspiration: The Honolulu-based shirt brand was founded in 1991 to offer traditional Hawaiian shirts inspired by vintage prints from the Thirties, Forties and Fifties. From hula girls and pineapple prints to surfers and tropical flowers, the camp shirts feature bright tropical colors on crêpe de chine silk fabrics. The cut is generous and the feeling is retro. Vincent Hui, operations manager and the son of the founders, said the brand modernizes the vintage prints and colors to appeal to today’s customer. He also put his mark on Avanti by creating a 100 percent cotton collection with a similar aesthetic and vintage-inspired prints but a slimmer fit targeted to a younger customer.
Key styles: A palm print on a navy background, flying fish in blue or orange, vintage florals and images of Waikiki beach are among the top sellers.
Price points: The cotton shirts retail for $65 and the silk styles are $79.
Brand: Mr Completely
Designers: Keith Richardson and Lukus Eichmann
Inspiration: Keith Richardson, who used to design the women’s line Corpus, introduced Mr Completely almost two years ago and later brought on Lukus Eichmann, who is also the chief executive officer at production, design and development firm AMBI studio, to help with denim design and development. The collection initially focused on sets. The brand is also known for customizing sneakers with creeper soles and helped Rihanna design her popular Puma creeper.
Key styles: Britpop and Nineties heritage are the key points of reference for this Los Angeles-based line, which focuses heavily on treated denim that features the brand’s signature staples along with zippers and floral embroidery for spring. The brand is also known for its bomber jackets with all around zippers and its hoodie and sweatpant sets. The line also includes T-shirts, baggy cargo pants and flannel shirts.
Price points: Bombers retail around $450; core denim from $220 to $350; shirts are priced from $125 to $250, and fleece sets range from $150 to $350.
Inspiration: Fila, which was founded in 1911, is doubling down on its heritage collection — last year the brand partnered with Urban Outfitters on an exclusive line of men’s and women’s pieces. “There’s so much going on in the heritage category and it’s making us look new again,” said Sean Lynch, Fila’s marketing and public relations specialist.
Key styles: For spring, the brand is updating its classic pieces with a more-modern fit. The BB1 polo and the Settanta bomber jacket now have more a tailored fit, while Fila’s classic sweatpant comes in a jogger as well as a traditional silhouette. The collection also includes nylon anoraks and graphic T-shirts. On the footwear front, the brand has updated the Original Tennis 2.0 shoe with a reflective upper and bootie sock liner.
Price points: Apparel ranges from $25 for a graphic T-shirt to $110 for a jacket. Footwear is priced from $75 to $100.
Brand: LC King
Inspiration: This family-owned business, which is based in Bristol, Tenn., was founded in 1916 and produces men’s workwear apparel under the LC King and Pointer Brand labels. In January, the brand will launch a collection with more-contemporary silhouettes that’s exclusively for brick-and-mortar stores. The brand is sold at 300 independent retailers across the U.S., Japan, South Korea and Indonesia.
Key styles: The line is comprised of classic workwear pieces including carpenter jeans, overalls, a shawl collar jacket, a banded collar jacket and its popular three-quarter-length coat.
Price points: Jackets are priced from $115 to $195; bottoms retail from $95 to $125, and overalls retail from $75 to $130.
Inspiration: Brothers Will and Robert Brunner developed the brand three years ago as a contemporary golf resource that is just as relevant in a restaurant as on the links. In fact, the brand had booths at both the golf and the MAGIC show. Devereux’s motto is Proper Threads and its focus is on offering a resort lifestyle brand that performs well and is still stylish.
Key styles: A five-pocket pant in a four-way stretch in a sateen stretch fabric offered in four colors; a quarter-zip pullover with a camo placket in polyester with 5 percent spandex that is also offered in a diamond knit in 100 percent pima cotton; a water-resistant vest with a kangaroo pouch, mandarin collar and horn buttons, and polos with a side seam that sits an inch further back that offers a more-tapered look without actually being slim cut.
Price points: The polos are $70; the pullovers are $100; the vest is $135, and the five-pocket pants are $135.