LAS VEGAS — Men’s wear represents 40 percent of the global apparel market and continues to grow both in popularity and penetration for most retailers. With that experience as the backdrop, merchants shopping the shows here earlier this week were in upbeat spirits as they scoured the aisles for the latest trend-right product to fuel that men’s wear momentum heading into next year.
Christine Wu, senior trend analyst for the Doneger Group, said the men’s wear market is projected to increase to $33 billion in sales by 2020, up 14 percent from $29 billion in 2015, the most recent figure available from Euromonitor International. Among the most popular categories are activewear-inspired pieces that offer performance and technology attributes, as well as streetwear, both at the designer and more democratically priced level.
Patty Leto, senior vice president of merchandising for Doneger, said that in order to sustain the strong showing, retailers have to reach men on their own terms and provide a “targeted and more personal approach to the assortment.” This will require a “necessary recalibration” of the business.
But because men’s wear doesn’t move that quickly, that recalibration will boil down to subtle updates of the current trends, notably nostalgia, outdoor lifestyle and streetwear.
At the trade shows here, Doneger’s merchant team said department and specialty stores should be stocking up on retro-inspired heritage product such as “kitschy conversational” prints on shirts, swimwear and bottoms. Other opportunities, according to Tim Bess, men’s trend analyst for Doneger, include workwear-inspired denim tops and bottoms, technical outerwear and utilitarian details such as cargo pockets.
In streetwear, where Bess said high-end stores such as Barneys and Bergdorf’s now have an edge, the category is moving toward deconstructed denim, activewear-style stripes and colorblocking as well as animal prints with a fit that is now shifting toward a relaxed silhouette.
Stores in warm-weather climates where kids were already back in school reported strong sales, while retailers from all around the country said they were anticipating a good fall and holiday season.
Jeff Useforge, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of men’s wear for J.C. Penney, was shopping the shows for young men’s, activewear and big and tall merchandise. He said the latter two categories were among the top performers for the company and he expects that to continue through the fall and beyond. As a result, “we will continue to plan the business up dramatically in the spring as well,” he said.
Tianne Doyle, chief merchant for the Bealls Outlet division of Bealls Florida stores, said that as a chain based in the Sunbelt, the company has already gotten a “healthy read” on back-to-school, “which is a good indicator of holiday. Fall is not a huge season for us, but we still think the next several months should be good. Retailers are reporting better numbers and we’re also riding that wave.”
At the shows, she was searching for immediates and “building strategies for holiday. And we’re starting to talk about spring.”
Mike Zack, owner of Circa 2000, a specialty store in Plano, Tex., said that while his business was “OK, it’s a whole new world out there. We’re trying to navigate through a minefield and keep changing our mix looking for newness.” He said that the promotional environment coupled with all the vendors opening their own stores is making it tough for independents to compete. “We’re looking for partners, not competitors,” he said.
Among the top performers in men’s at his store are sport shirts and sport coats, he said, and he was looking for more of those.
Here are a few of the most distinctive lines which exhibited at the men’s shows this week.
Creative director: Marco Baldassari
Backstory: The brand was founded in Milan in 2007 by Baldassari, who was seeking to offer a contemporary luxury brand that could sit alongside Zegna and Thom Browne in terms of fashion, but at a more accessible price, according to Geoff Schneiderman, president of North America. The collection is centered around classic pieces such as suits and sport coats, but in modern silhouettes and updated fabrications that “the regular guy can adjust to,” he said. For example, tailored jackets are 73 centimeters long with more narrow sleeves, and suits have an eight-inch drop.
Key styles: Knit jackets, which represent the bulk of the line’s sales, are often paired with joggers featuring waists that are only elasticized in the back and a cuff on the bottom of the pant. An updated seersucker fabric is made into a suit paired with joggers, there are fine-gauge cotton crewneck sweaters that replace woven shirts under the suit jackets and an airy lightweight raincoat.
Prices: The collection, which is carried in high-end retailers such as Stanley Korshak and Selfridges, offers knit jackets for $595, joggers for $295 to $395, and outerwear for around $1,195 or $1,295.
Brand: The Frye Company
Backstory: The business dates all the way back to 1863 when John A. Frye, an English shoemaker, opened a shop in Marlboro, Mass. That makes Frye the oldest continuously operated shoe company in the United States. Since the beginning, the brand was known for its durability and craftsmanship, a sensibility that is especially relevant today with the popularity of American heritage brands. Now owned by Authentic Brands Group, Frye also offers a line of apparel for men and women with a warm, weathered feel that complements its footwear assortment.
Key styles: For spring, the apparel offering is inspired by the Painted Desert and Big Sur with a washed, sun-dyed palette and textured fabrics that look vintage. A hand-woven ikat dyeing technique is used on patterned sport shirts, while other styles offer wood block printing, textured indigos, tie-dyes and dip-dyed hombre patterns. Most pieces are in cotton or linen and feature special details such as corozo or conch buttons. The offering ranges from field jackets and baja hoodies to canvas shorts, patchwork chore jackets and cotton overshirts.
Prices: Knitwear retails for $98, woven shirts as well as most bottoms are $148, sweaters are $198 and outerwear is around $298.
Brand: Tallia Orange
Backstory: Designed, manufactured and marketed by Peerless Clothing, Tallia Orange is an updated collection of men’s tailored clothing and furnishings that was launched in 2009. It is moderately priced and targeted to a Millennial man who is not afraid to step out of the box in his wardrobe choices. The brand licensed Excalibur Apparel to expand Tallia Orange into sportswear which is being introduced for spring. Excalibur is part of A.W. Chang, a vertical manufacturer that started in 1989 as a silk printer and whose brands include W.R.K., Brooklyn Brigade and Con.struct.
Key styles: Excalibur has moved beyond traditional printing techniques and now uses a digital printing process to create eye-catching customized patterns for sport shirts, dress shirts, sport coats and accessories. The Tallia sportswear complements the tailored clothing by offering contrast collars and gussets on shirts that also feature two- and four-way stretch, boldly patterned all-over paisley patterned knit track suits, printed blazer with stretch linings, and a trucker jacket with a printed embroidery embellishment.
Prices: T-shirts are $48, shorts are $58, short-sleeve shirts are $68, long-sleeve shirts are $88 and the track suit retails for $98 for the jacket and $78 for the pants.
Designers: Josh and Brandon Brubaker
Backstory: Brothers Josh and Brandon Brubaker started Clearweather, a California-based sneaker brand that is named after the Native American pictograph that translates to “clear weather,” in 2015 after holding stints at Supra, Vans and Creative Recreation. They wanted to offer an alternative to the larger sneaker brands in the market. Over the past couple of seasons, they’ve streamlined the brand by cleaning up distribution to focus on direct-to-consumer and collaborations with tier one and tier two retailers. And they’ve abandoned a women’s line and opted for one collection that covers both men’s and women’s sizes.
Key styles: For spring, Clearweather collaborated with Japanese brand Takahiromiyashita The Soloist on a collection for its skate sneaker assortment, which includes lace-ups and slip-ons with a half-moon suede detail. The rest of the offering is inspired by the Nineties and hiking and features the Cloud Stryk, one of the first silhouettes Clearweather designed that now has several iterations, including a sock boot style, along with the Contera, a chunkier sneaker that’s on-trend with the dad shoe.
Prices: The skate line starts at $65 and goes up to $80, while the rest of the assortment ranges from around $100 to $200.
Brand: Yukihero Pro-Wrestling
Designer: Yukihiro Teshima
Backstory: Teshima started this unisex brand in 2012 with the tagline: “Outfits to Become Someone’s Hero.” He uses his fascination with wrestling and his interest in fashion to design the collection and collaborate with various illustrators and brands.
Key styles: Teshima collaborated with Japanese animator 009 on a matching short and shirt set covered in illustrated fists. He also worked with Japanese pro wrestler Hokuto No Ken and the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” on a line of graphic T-shirts. The core line includes jeans embroidered with Lucha Libre masks, a matching short and jacket set covered in Tiger Moss, jackets covered in robots and a jerseys decorated with turtles.
Prices: The line retails from $50 to $500.
Brand: Jack & Jones
Backstory: The Denmark-based apparel brand is part of the Bestseller group, a privately held family-owned company that owns more than 20 men’s, women’s and children’s fashion labels including Selected Homme. Jack & Jones is rooted in denim but also offers a complete casual lifestyle collection. It was launched in 1990 and today operates more than 4,000 retail stores around the world. However, it is just now dabbling in the U.S. market. It is carried in all Lord & Taylor doors and is hoping to expand its distribution by wholesaling to other big-volume retailers in America. There are no plans to open its own retail stores here at this time.
Key styles: Jack & Jones offers a wide variety of washes and fits in its denim jeans. The slim-straight model is among the most popular in the American market now and its casual tops and graphic tees are also strong sellers. The “hit of the season,” however, according to Lambros Potagas, head of men’s wear sales, is its all-year-round bomber. In addition to regular sizes, Jack & Jones has now extended its offering to include kids and big & tall options.
Prices: Jeans retail for $69 to $149.
Brand: Family First
Designer: Giorgio Mallone
Backstory: Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch is a force on the football field, but off the gridiron, he’s become known for giving back. His organization, Fam1st Family Foundation is intended to empower and educate underprivileged youth. When the Italian brand with a similar name was pondering entering the U.S. market, it realized the name was registered to Lynch’s charity. So instead of butting heads, they decided to work together and Lynch also acquired an equity stake. The Family First fashion line offers streetwear styling with Italian manufacturing know-how.
Key styles: The collection offers a see-now-buy-now assortment of elongated hoodies and T-shirts, joggers, graphic T-shirts, a sweatshirt with a special plastic coating in a paint-drip pattern, and joggers in velvet and chenille. There is also a leather bomber, moto pants, sweaters and a capsule collection with Italian rapper Emis Killa.
Prices: Although the final prices have not yet been determined, T-shirts are expected to retail for around $60, sweatshirts for $110-$120, denim for $140, joggers for $110 and the leather bomber for $550.
Brand: White Sand
Backstory: Hailing from the region of Emilia-Romagna, Italy, White Sand combines elements of Japanese streetwear from the Seventies with Italian craftsmanship to produce a line of men’s pants and shorts that are fashionable but accessible for a regular guy.
Key styles: The line is comprised of three key pant silhouettes that include one with a full elastic waist and a metal clasp closure; a modified chino with a half elastic waist in the back and more tailored finish in the front with side tabs; and a double pleat with a fuller leg that has a slight crop. The shorts and pants come in fabrics ranging from madras to khaki to denim. Each pair features a turquoise beat on the pocket.
Prices: The line ranges in price from $150 to $225.
Brand: Far Afield
Designers: Chris and Mark Scholes
Backstory: Formed out of Brighton, England, by brothers Chris and Mark Scholes, Far Afield is a British men’s contemporary brand that approaches manufacturing and sourcing in a conscious and ethical way. Mark previously started men’s wear brands Tuktuk and Madras Shirting Company and Chris opened Thread Menswear. The Far Afield line is sold in retailers including Unionmade in San Francisco, and Stag and Wittmore in Los Angeles.
Key styles: Jazz and New Orleans informed the spring/summer collection, which includes knit polo sweaters, linen suits, swim trunks, bucket hats, and intarsia knits. Far Afield is known for its prints, which are all created by Mark and range from horn and trumpet motifs to graphic florals and an abstract camo.
Prices: Bucket hats retail for $40; shirts are $110; knits are priced at $145; and shorts are $105.
Brand: Russell Athletics
Backstory: Russell Athletics launched its premium, more fashion-forward assortment via a partnership with designer and Kanye West collaborator Tracey Mills. Titled Visitor On Earth, the line was sold at Barneys and there will be two additional drops later this year. Now the athletics brand, which was started in 1902, is looking to its heritage and old uniforms for inspiration for this line, which is sold at retailers including Urban Outfitters, Zumiez and Tillys.
Key styles: The collection includes various iterations of a new but old Russell Athletics logo that features an eagle in the “R.” A smaller logo is embroidered on T-shirts, while more enlarged versions created with chenille are placed on hoodies and sweatshirts. A distressed version of the logo appears on raglans and baseball T-shirts. The line also includes tearaway basketball shorts and matching jackets, terrycloth polo shirts and nylon coach’s jackets.
Prices: The line retails from $30 to $80.
Backstory: Slushgod, who introduced this line three years ago, wants to remain anonymous so the focus is on the clothes, but he’s an art school dropout (with 10 years of retail experience under his belt) who wanted to start a fun label with a focus on snacks. The line is currently carried at Zumiez, independent skate shops, and select FYE stores on the East Coast. He has plans to move into women’s and swimwear in the future.
Key styles: Slushcult collaborated with Gushers on a capsule collection of graphic tees including a tie-dye shirt with “Friends Stick Together” messaging and a slushie and Gusher graphic along with a T-shirt that features a slushie image illustrated with Gushers. The core line includes multicolored T-shirts that read “Resist Lame Snacks” and “Don’t Melt on Me.” Hats and T-shirts also bear a neon multicolored “S.”
Prices: Graphic T-shirts are $25; custom tie dye tops are $30 to $35; hoodies and backpacks are $60 and hats are $30 to $40.
Designer: Jens Werner
Backstory: It all started some two decades ago when brand founder Johan Lindeberg was appalled by the ill-fitting, balloon-like outfits worn by golfers playing in the Ryder Cup. So he set out to change the aesthetic and launched a brand under his own name that is now considered to be the industry’s first designer golfwear line. Unlike the other offerings in the market, the J.Lindeberg collection was slimmer and echoed the fashion trends of the season with its European fit, injection of color and performance fibers — attributes that have now become commonplace in the golf industry, according to Scott Davis, sales director of sport for J.Lindeberg.
Key styles: For spring, the collection focused on several stories, one revolved around piping that J.Lindeberg used as both details on its polo shirts, some of which were in nylon, as well as down the legs of the golf pants. Patterns such as bird’s-eye camo and exploded brand logos printed on shirts were also offered. A lightweight rain pant using a Schoeller waterproof fabric with an embroidered stripe down the leg was also a key piece.
Prices: Shirts retail for $75 to $125, pants for $110 to $165, sweaters for $125 to $195 and an updated seamless pullover is $185.