By Jean E. Palmieri
with contributions from Aria Hughes
 on March 17, 2016
The New York Men's Day installation at Liberty Fairs

The gyrations surrounding men’s fashion week this summer continue to prompt debate.

Earlier this week, Capsule and Liberty Fairs revealed they planned to break ranks with the other trade shows and shift their dates in July to align with the runway shows of New York Fashion Week: Men’s. Project and MRket are sticking with their original dates and will show the week after the runway shows.

Unless things change again, the plan is for the spring 2017 Liberty and Capsule trade shows to run from July 10 to 12. NYFW: Men’s will take place from July 11 to 14. Last summer the trade shows occurred a week earlier, the same time as Project and MRket, which are planning to host their shows from July 17 to 19. The Man New York show has also opted to shift its dates to July 10 to 12.

“Sometimes you just have to roll the dice and do things differently to get different results,” said Sam Ben-Avraham, founder of Liberty Fairs. He said there have been ongoing conversations since NYFW: Men’s launched in July about the best timing for the trade shows and “it made more sense to be the same week. Not every buyer goes to every show.”

Deirdre Maloney, Capsule’s cofounder, agreed. She said Sunday will be a “stand-alone day” for the trade shows and Monday is a “light day.” That’s the date of New York Men’s Day, Agentry public relations’ emerging designer showcase, which has two separate 90-minute presentation blocks during the day: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. This will allow buyers and editors the time to get to Capsule and Liberty during the down time, she said.

Erin Hawker, owner of Agentry, is also in favor of the shift. “From an industry perspective, it makes sense,” she said. “If the shows are in sync, it’s better for the buyers and short-lead media. I think most people will be able to go to Liberty and Capsule on Sunday and if they need to see our collections on Monday, it’s an easy in-and-out.”

Liberty has a collaboration with Agentry and offers an installation of the designers showing at New York Men’s Day. While most of the brands participating are small, Hawker said most should have a second set of samples that will allow them to be represented at both places at the same time.

Retailers are generally in favor of the shift, with certain caveats.

Kevin Harter, vice president of fashion direction for Bloomingdale’s, said: “I’m all for it. The more the calendar can be aligned, the better.” He said that once the Council of Fashion Designers’ runway shows start on Tuesday, the days are filled with shows, basically one an hour. But before that, “I had a lot of down time.”

Additionally, he pointed out, at most department stores, the buyers and the fashion directors have different agendas. The buyers are better served walking the trade shows, while the fashion directors attend the runway shows.

Eric Jennings, vice president and men’s fashion director for Saks Fifth Avenue, is keeping an open mind, but would be happier if the trade and runway shows were in the same area. The fashion shows are in TriBeCa and the trade shows are at Piers 92 and 94 on 54th Street.

“Getting uptown is a problem,” he said. “It can take 45 minutes to an hour during the day.” That said, he said that since the buyers who walk the trade shows are not necessarily attending fashion shows, it could work. “It’s more of a problem for editors and fashion directors who might not want to give up a summer Sunday in July.”

Ben-Avraham and Maloney said they will be providing transportation — buses and Uber cars — to get attendees between the two locations. But since both locations are on the West Side, Ben-Avraham believes it will only take 10 to 15 minutes to get between the venues.

Mark Beckham, business director for Fashion Week for the CFDA, believes the date shift will be advantageous. “From our standpoint, it’s a great thing,” he said. Once the runway shows kick off in earnest on Tuesday, he knows it’ll be harder for retailers and editors to make it to the trade shows, “but we’ll take this into account when we’re scheduling,” he said.

“We want this to be a positive experience for everyone and condensing it over five to six days will make it a true men’s week,” Beckham added.

Even so, Project is holding tight. Tommy Fazio, the former president of Project and now president of retail fashion for its parent, UBM Americas, said he was sticking with his dates since that is the “traditional market week and that’s when the retailers are here.” So, for “ease, speed and convenience” to the merchants, Project will go off a few days after the conclusion of the shows.

A spokesperson for MRket said the company is not ready to discuss its July plans at this point.

Designer reaction was mixed.

Peter Trainor, designer of Max ‘N Chester, said the company will show at New York Men’s Day and Liberty. “I think it’s wonderful and it’s long overdue. Now we can invite the buyers to our show to see everything live and how the collection has some functionality, and then they can see the collection from a merchandising point of view at the trade show.”

Scot Shandalove, founder of Matiere, who shows at New York Men’s Day and Man New York, said: “It’s nice to pack all of that excitement in one week. For a West Coast brand, it’s great in terms of travel arrangements. It’s also great to get the buyers to the presentation and to the trade show so they can see how to style it. We get a great reaction when we have the look book imagery for the trade show.”

David Hart presents at New York Men’s Day and has previously showed at Capsule and Liberty Fairs in New York. The designer will continue doing the Las Vegas trade shows but has opted out of the New York ones this season.

“I think it makes it tricky for a lot of designers. I don’t have the bankroll to make two sets of samples,” he said. “For me this is the nudge to get the collection overseas to get into some of the international markets. It’s just a bigger opportunity for me and my brand.”