LAS VEGAS — There are a lot of opportunities to capitalize on in the men’s market this year. While the industry tends to move more slowly than women’s, the continuing popularity of streetwear, heritage influences and technical fabrications are all understandable trends for the men’s shopper and are buoying the spirits of stores attending the Project, Liberty Fairs, Capsule and Agenda trade shows here this week.
Most men’s retailers are coming off a solid 2017 and believe that the fashion trends in the market will help them continue the momentum into this year.
As James Starke, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s for J.C. Penney, put it: “We had a good fourth quarter and are off to a good start in Q1. There’s a lot of newness in men’s and kids and we have a lot of new brands coming in, so we feel good for spring.”
Looking ahead to fall, Starke has similar optimism — albeit tempered with some caution.
“These shows have become a touch point for us and our suppliers,” he said. “They help validate what we’re doing for fall.”
Tom Ott, chief merchant for Saks Off 5th and Gilt, said he appreciated the shows, particularly Agenda and Liberty, for all the trends he discovered. “I liked the melding of the designers and streetwear,” he said. “It’s a cool zone and our customer is buying it.”
Although the team also explored more tailored options, Ott said the orders they left were mainly for sportswear for fall and holiday.
Ott said the trends that emerged at the shows have raised his optimism for the rest of the year. “I’m inspired by all the new fashion,” he said, “especially for the younger customer. It’s making an impact in the industry and creating new business. We’re not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but we’ve got to be current, hip and cool.”
Durand Guion, group vice president and men’s fashion director for Macy’s, said: “The Las Vegas shows confirmed many of the trends we are feeling strongly about for fall including color, corduroy, innovation in pants — fuller silhouettes, side stripes — and non-denim fabrications. And the amount of outstanding outerwear options will continue the momentum around this classification.”
Patty Leto, senior vice president of men’s wear for the Doneger Group, also cited the “overall momentum” in the market, adding that the “bright light” that emerged in the fourth quarter continues to burn bright. However, “we cannot rest on our laurels,” she added, saying that the fashion industry continues to compete with “technology, travel and food” for consumer dollars.
The solution, she said, is to provide shoppers with merchandise that will help them “up their fashion game.”
Among the most popular trends for fall, according to Doneger’s Tim Bess, men’s trend analyst, are outdoor-inspired lifestyle elements such as plaids and checks in shirts and jackets, sherpa tops, corduroys and retro skiwear. Heritage styles updated with modern fabrications in tartans, tweeds and Ivy League influences in accessories will be key, Bess said, along with luxe streetwear complete with animal prints, bold logos and a mix of prints and patterns. On the other extreme is what Bess described as “dadcore,” which includes baggy fits in pants and “ugly sweaters.”
Lacy McAngus, men’s fashion stylist at Rothmans in New York City, was scouring the shows searching for items that would appeal to the company’s customers.
“I love putting together collections and capsules,” she said. “I see what’s on trend and that gives me inspiration for our stores and customers.”
Among the top brands she and Rothmans president Ken Giddon found at the shows included M. Singer’s collection; Belstaff’s waxed cotton coats; Nifty Genius’ bomber jackets and floral shirts; the Billy Reid and Selected Homme collections; Parajumpers coats, and Trask and Seavees shoes.
The retailer is also considering adding Bonobos to its assortment. “Even though they have a store near us, it’s a good product at a good price,” Giddon said.
Overall, Giddon is expecting 2018 to be a good year after a solid end to 2017. “January is always a challenging month,” he said, “but we’re optimists. We’re here looking for opportunities and pop-ups.
“Liberty looked great and had a lot to offer,” he added, “but we felt a little squeezed and couldn’t get to everybody because it opened at 10 o’clock.”
Here are a few highlights from the Las Vegas shows:
Brand: AG Adriano Goldschmied
Backstory: In a move to shift the venerable brand in a “new direction,” the Los Angeles-based denim label recently brought on Maurizio Donadi of Levi’s and Atelier & Repairs as creative director and David Lim as brand director. According to Lim, whose background includes Big Star and Paige Denim, they are working to push the brand ahead by injecting some color and updated classics into the fall collection.
Key pieces: While premium denim continues to be the hallmark of the brand, fall’s story centers around “More Than Denim.” Lim said the crisp white poplin shirt is a key item for the season, as are more fashion-forward colors in shirts and pants. Looser fits have become more prevalent in the line, which includes everything from leather jackets and heavy twill workwear jackets with faux shearling collars to head-to-toe wide-wale corduroy. And of course, since this is AG, denim continues to be a key component of the line with new silhouettes that include carpenter pants and washes that range from raw to aged washes in a variety of fits.
Prices: Jeans retail for $178 to $348; jackets from the mid $200s to $350, and the white poplin shirt is $158.
Brand: Tommy Bahama and Pendleton
Backstory: The two brands came together for a capsule collection that blends Pendleton’s fabrics with Tommy Bahama’s popular patterns. “It’s a fresh look for both our brands,” said Tommy Bahama chief executive officer Doug Wood. The collection includes men’s and women’s apparel, footwear, accessories, luggage and home products.
Key pieces: The capsule includes two prints — the Aloha Harding print, which is inspired by Pendleton’s Chief Joseph blanket and was introduced in 1923, and the Island Serape Stripe, a tropical leaf pattern jacquarded with Pendleton’s classic blanket stripe. Styles include casual shirts, vests, jackets, sweaters and even a poncho and swimwear for women.
Prices: The men’s assortment ranges from $99.50 for a long-sleeve T-shirt to $395 for the striped shirt jackets. The woven camp shirts are $145.
Brand: Scotch & Soda
Backstory: This season, the design team focused on plaid, corduroy and a retro ski theme. They also introduced more logos into the assortment.
Key pieces: Outerwear is an important category for the brand and this season it showed parkas with a removable plaid lining, chevron ski vests, flannel jackets with a shearling collar and a plaid, quilted shirt jacket. Ath-leisure pieces including a tracksuit and a half-zip sweater featured logo tape on the arms. The brand also presented a ski capsule that consists of shirts and pants embroidered with ski insignia. Bottoms ranged from striped corduroy pants to an abstract camo pair and pleated styles that came in houndstooth.
Prices: Knits range from $49 to $150; outerwear is priced from $198 to $498, and bottoms are priced from $98 to $198.
Brand: Quartz Co.
Backstory: Quartz Co. is a 20-year-old Canadian outerwear company that was founded by Yves Trudeau but was acquired a few years ago by brothers Jean-Philippe Robert and François-Xavier Robert, who are both entrepreneurs. Jean-Philippe Robert was previously a partner at LXR and Co., an e-commerce site that sells vintage designer items. After acquiring the brand they maintained the craftsmanship — all of the outerwear is made in Canada — but updated the design to make it more minimal and modern. It’s sold at specialty retailers including Steven Alan and Paragon Sports.
Key pieces: This season they introduced a new transitional piece called the Hemming, which is a zippered, collared coat made with Canadian duck down. A bestseller for the brand is the Vostock that features a detachable hood, 3M reflective bands and an adjustable waist. Other important styles include the Labrador, a minimal parka with two-way zippers, and the Belfort, a new, slimmer style with two-way zippers and a button closure.
Prices: Outerwear starts at $800 and goes up to $1,200.
Backstory: Founded in Italy in 1974 by Giuliana Marchini Gerani and her husband Silvano Gerani, the brand’s foundation is built on knitwear. Its first creative director was Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, and over the years, the brand has become synonymous with Pop Art, working with Andy Warhol, Vivienne Westwood and other icons of that period. Now designed by James Long, the collection re-entered the American market in 2016 after a long hiatus. The line made its wholesale debut at the Vegas trade show.
Key pieces: Long has been reinterpreting and updating pieces from the line’s rich archives so the fall collection featured a lot of classic motifs on T-shirts, track jackets and other pieces. Key items included a track pant in nylon with metallic details and a side stripe, a taped tracksuit and a puffer jacket with big Iceberg logos. The brand is also revisiting its collaborations with cartoon characters and for fall, its Taz and Tom & Jerry whose likenesses are splashed on sweaters and other items.
Retail prices: T-shirts start at $200, sweaters and outerwear are around $600 and tracksuits sell for $700.
Brand: Unknown London
Backstory: Jarred Elliott of DXL Agency in New York stumbled across the London-based brand when he saw a crowd gathered outside a storefront in Paris. Recognizing the brand from its popular Instagram feed, he met with the 22-year-old founders and owners — Joe Granger and Callum Vineer — and brought the brand to the States. Unknown London offers recognizable streetwear styles but at an affordable price.
Key pieces: Elliott prefers to steer clear of the streetwear moniker, opting instead to describe Unknown as a luxury sportswear collection that offers fashion styling and technical fabrications with streetwear details. For instance, a half-zip jacket in nylon is accented with harnesses and buckles and is available in bright yellow or white. Vests feature similar details with lots of straps and zippers. Hoodies and T-shirts have printed graphics on the rear of the front page of the New York Times of the first moon walk in 1969.
Retail prices: T-shirts sell for $80 and the more elaborate pieces retail for up to $350.
Brand: 1791 Supply & Co.
Designer: Priscilla Barroso
Backstory: This Dallas-based brand, which is named after the year the Bill of Rights was added to the U.S. Constitution, used to focus on hunting-influenced gear, but Barroso acquired the line a year ago and has changed it to be a more modern, American heritage collection. Everything is made in Dallas.
Key pieces: Each of the pieces from the collection come in three different washes: raw, rinsed and distressed. Retailers and customers are able to customize items by wash and fabric. The fall collection includes a utility jumpsuit, a knit sweater embroidered with “grandpa,” a shirt inspired by a Boy Scout uniform, and a shirt that references the uniforms worn during the Vietnam War, which included a sweat pocket to keep a soft pack of cigarettes dry. Now the pocket is ideal for a smartphone.
Prices: The line retails from $150 to $400.
Designer: Pedro Monteiro
Backstory: This line, which is made in Portugal, was founded three years ago by Monteiro, a self-taught designer and has a background in photography. The collection is inspired by the intersection of land and sea and is comprised of minimal, clean separates in washed out colors.
Key pieces: The fall assortment looks to Nineties nostalgia, which comes through in the plaid shirts, the thermal hoodies and matching pants and the cotton jackets with shearling collars. Other highlights include a Baja vest and shirt, cropped khakis and a hooded, fleece vest with navy pockets.
Prices: Shirts retail for $190; sweaters are priced at $215 and jackets around $335.
Brand: Mr. Completely
Backstory: The Los Angeles-based high-end streetwear brand counts Fear of God and Stampd among its competitors. And it has street cred: One of its partners, Billy Walsh, is a stylist for The Weeknd who created a custom creeper for Adidas that was a favorite of Rihanna.
Key pieces: The brand is centered around skinny jeans and baggy tops and everything is manufactured in Los Angeles. Among the highlights for fall are skinny jeans with side zippers, baked-in creases and paint splatters. Polyester-filled hoodies and plaid workshirts are also key for this season as is a mixed-media cropped trucker jacket with a nylon top and a denim bottom.
Retail prices: The denim retails for $275 to $350, outerwear is $450, fleece is $200 to $250 and T-shirts are $120.
Brand: Fried Rice
Designer: Maya Wang
Backstory: Wang partnered with Nolan Mecham to start this three-year-old brand that’s based in New York’s Lower East Side. Wang, a self-taught artist who attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, named the brand Fried Rice to symbolize the cultural mix that exists in the neighborhood and as the brand has expanded into different markets, she’s maintained that ethos. Wang and Mecham describe the label as eclectic urban and sell the fall collection each season at AfroPunk, a music festival and market that takes place in Brooklyn every August. The line is sold at retailers including Urban Outfitters along with Grit and Honor.
Key pieces: Wang focused on bringing more color into the collection. Her faux furs, which are a signature for the line, ranged from a pastel-colored style, which is named Candy Shop, and a reversible, kimono-inspired style that comes in a green leopard with a black interior. She referenced vintage plaid patterns to create outerwear and showed a corduroy shirt and matching trousers with contrasting pockets and button plackets. Other strong items were the color-blocked shirts with corduroy collars and cuffs.
Prices: The collection ranges from $100 to $500.
Designer: Zack Fryer
Backstory: The brand was created by now-19-year-old Fryer when he was in the eighth grade as a 12-shirt run of a single design that he printed on T-shirts. “I was sick of showing up at school and finding other kids wearing the same thing,” he said. “So I printed some T-shirts with all the money I had, around $120.” They sold and so by the time Fryer graduated from high school — a year early — he had decided to pursue a fashion career full-time. His high-end streetwear brand is just starting to make its mark at retail, with two stockists in Japan and one in New Jersey. This was his first appearance at Agenda, which provided him with a free booth after he won a scholarship contest organized by the show.
Key pieces: The collection offers classic styles such as trucker jackets and button-down shirts but with interesting twists. The jacket, for instance, is created from corduroy in different colors while the shirt has two complementary plaid patterns separated by yellow stitching. There are ripstop nylon tracksuits, mesh basketball hook-ups and graphic Ts. The top-of-the-line item is a red and white moto leather jacket with the brand name emblazoned on the front. “I design things I want to wear,” Fryer said.
Retail prices: The flannels are $70, the corduroy jacket is $120 and the leather jacket is $300.
Brand: Prime Life Clothing Company
Backstory: Started in 2012 by Jordan Stewart, Kyle Young, Tim Crome and Emmanuel Chege — 22-year-old friends who grew up together in Chino Hills, Calif. — Prime Life, which stands for Pure Royalty Inside Me, was one of the two scholarship winners at Agenda. The mission of the brand is to push its fans to live out their passions. They currently sell direct-to-consumer via their e-commerce site but are using the complementary booth at Agenda to explore distribution options.
Key items: The founders infuse reference points from their life into the collection. For example, they play the Fifa video game series in their spare time so they made a soccer jersey with a Prime Life logo that was inspired by the Croatian jerseys. They are all college graduates, or still attending college, so they produce graphic T-shirts covered with “Educated State of Mind.” A T-shirt with drawstring detail at the bottom features a Black Panther graphic, which they referenced from Huey P. Newton, and “True Creative” messaging. A collegiate tone also comes through in their hoodies, which feature chenille “P” patches. Another signature of the brand is adding athletic trim to cut-and-sew knits.
Prices: The line retails from $30 to $80.