LAS VEGAS — Challenging. Headwinds. Those were just two of the terms retailers used to describe the state of current business. But ever the optimists, they scoured the aisles at the myriad trade shows here to stock up on merchandise they hope will reverse the trend and draw customers to their stores.
For the Doneger Group, this translates into “a well-balanced mix,” according to Patty Leto, senior vice president of merchandising. Today’s shopper is responding to newness in silhouette, color, fabric and pattern, she said, and is seeking value, which is now defined by the features and benefits offered rather than price.
Volume drivers for fall include textured knits, joggers, stretch denim, cargo pants, plaid shirts, puffer jackets, shirt jackets, anoraks and accessories including beanies and backpacks, according to Doneger’s trend analyst Tim Bess.
Chad Stauffer, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s wear for Bon-Ton Stores, said retail business in general has been tough “but pockets have been good.” Denim in particular has been strong and Bon-Ton believes there’s an opportunity to increase its young men’s business.
“We’re always optimistic, but there are headwinds,” he said, “and everybody is being conservative. You have to do more with less and we’re picking our spots.”
Steve Lawrence, chief merchant for Stage Stores, is not expecting much of a rebound in the first half after a challenging holiday season. “So we’re trying to be sharper on trends and stay on top of what’s happening,” he said.
He, too, sees resurgence in denim and activewear is still a strong category. “And we’re very traditional, so we’re also seeing growth in the updated contemporary part of the business. It happened first in women’s and now is happening in men’s.”
Eric Jennings, vice president and men’s fashion director for Saks Fifth Avenue, was “really looking closely at active-inspired collections” as he sought the right brands to fill the “movement toward all-day lifestyle dressing or active-luxe,” he said.
Collections with technological properties such as Kenneth Cole Black Label were of interest, he said, as were some of the “great accessories” that he saw at the shows, including headphones and grooming products — “peripheral men’s wear products” that could be viewed as add-on sales opportunities.
Ken Giddon, president of Rothmans in New York, said his business has been holding up — outerwear sales notwithstanding — and he doesn’t think the country is in “real dangerous recession area.”
As a result he was shopping all the shows for new items and found accessories he liked at Smathers & Branson; belts at Bucks Club; sport shirts and pants at Maker & Co.; sportswear from Descendant of Thieves and Good Man Brand, and tech jackets at Colmar and Parajumpers.
Here is a roundup of the Vegas shows and some of the standout collections:
Inspiration: Best known for its polarized performance eyewear, Revo has jumped into the apparel arena through a licensing deal with Excelled. But the company hasn’t moved far from its roots — the brand’s signature eyewear details show up in functional pockets that clean and protect, base layers that take their inspiration from frames, a minimal use of logos and uncomplicated designs. Jon McKinney, senior vice president and creative brand director of Revo Apparel, described the line as “Lululemon meets The North Face. It has the fit of Lululemon but the bells and whistles and technical performance for extreme outdoor activities.”
Key Styles: The offering ranges from base layers in merino wool to fleece hoodies and windproof and waterproof outerwear.
Prices: Base layers retail for $98 to $145; fleece is $195 to $295, and outerwear ranges from $425 to $795.
Inspiration: The outerwear brand has jumped onto the major trends of the season, offering up an assortment of military-inspired styles as well as a commuter capsule collection. Jack Wu, founder and chief executive officer, hit all the high notes with everything from military vests to fishtail coats, all of which have been treated to be water- and wind-resistant but still breathable. Rainforest’s proprietary fabric, Thermoluxe, also makes an appearance. The fabric is an alternative to down that is warm, lightweight, water repellent and hypoallergenic.
Key Styles: The Heritage coat is a cotton nylon blend with a removable shearling collar, shearling cuffs, leather details and a hood. The interior offers a quilted Thermoluxe lining. The 37-inch long fishtail military coat looks like a wool blanket fabric, but is water- and windproof with ribbed collar and cuffs and a sherpa lining. The commuter collection was developed to fit over a suit and includes a nylon raincoat with a removable quilted Thermoluxe vest, and 34- or 42-inch coats that are elegant and waterproof.
Prices: The military offering ranges from $275 for the vest to $550 for the fishtail coat. The commuter collection averages around $450 to $500.
Brand: Side Slope
Designer: Hiroki Wakisaka
Inspiration: Wakisaka was a pattern-maker and knit designer before launching Side Slope in 2005. The Japanese knitwear company has factories in Japan and China and produces knitwear for other brands. The collection is currently sold in the U.S. at H Lorenzo, Fred Segal, Ron Herman and Garys.
Key Styles: Cashmere lounge pants and matching hoodies, textured sweaters and a houndstooth cashmere blazer.
Prices: The collection retails from $275 for a sweater up to $950 for sweater jackets.
Designer: Anika Islam, who is also the founder and chief executive officer.
Inspiration: Islam, whose family is in the manufacturing business, introduced Wåven, which is pronounced “woven,” four seasons ago in an attempt to offer contemporary, Scandinavian-inspired product at a reasonable price point. The London-based men’s and women’s line, which is primarily denim, is currently sold at ASOS, Selfridges, Luisa Via Roma and Urban Outfitters.
Key Styles: Patchwork was a dominant detail in the fall collection, with Islam showcasing patchwork jeans and a patchwork kimono. The denim collection is made up of about seven silhouettes including a slim style made from 70-pound selvage denim. Outerwear includes a classic bomber jacket and mac jacket along with a burgundy work jacket and a deconstructed blazer.
Prices: Selvage denim is priced at $150; the patchwork denim retails around $90; outerwear retails from $100 to $130, and work shirts are priced from $70 to $100.
Brand: Tommy Bahama
Inspiration: It gets cold even in the tropics sometime, so the sportswear brand is branching out into outerwear for fall. Manufactured through a newly inked licensing deal with NoXS, the outerwear will offer performance pieces that remain true to the brand’s island-inspired signature with a dose of streetwear and field and stream thrown in for good measure. For example, a puffer coat will have a tropical-themed lining and there will be colorful sleeve bands that speak to the signature of Tommy Bahama, according to Peter Leff, executive vice president of wholesale for the company.
Key Styles: Parkas, puffers, trenchcoats, workwear, car coats and peacoats in a variety of technical fabrics, waxed finishes and pigment dyes with intricate details. Leff said it’s “true fall outerwear” targeted to the Tommy Bahama aficionado. “If they buy our home product, swimwear and sportswear, why not a down coat?” he said.
Prices: Retail prices will range from $170 to $300.
Inspiration: The 80-year-old family-owned Swedish brand got its start making gloves for lumberjacks who worked in the forests in the country’s upland. Soon after, a ski slope was created in the area and the family saw an opportunity. Today, the fourth generation of the founding Magnusson family still operates the business, which has become known as one of the finest glove manufacturers in the world.
Key Styles: While the company is still a leader in ski gloves, Hestra also offers three dress collections: a Sport Classic line of burly elk and deerskin leathers with heavy wool liners for the rugged classic enthusiast; the Collection is a more refined dress-oriented grouping made from fine Napa leathers, while the most premium collection is called Table Cut with gloves that are hand-measured, cut and sewn in a small factory in Hungary. Options here include peccary leather, which is warm and durable, and vegetable-tanned deerskin.
Prices: The Sport Classics open at $70 for wool and go up to around $200 for leather. The Collection sells for $100 to $170 and Table Cut models are $250 to $400.
Brand: Kenneth Cole Black Label
Designer: Kenneth Cole
Inspiration: The designer is serious about reviving his more-premium apparel business and has introduced an elevated collection under the Black Label for fall. The line offers some of the brand’s signature pieces including bomber jackets, suits, five-pocket pants and oxford shirts but with technically updated materials and modern details. “This is our effort to bring back some of the unique products but with an elevated point of view,” Cole said. “It’s where the brand used to be and the customer is welcoming and encouraging.”
Key Styles: The bomber is offered in Neoprene, the joggers are in leather and the “Techni-Cole” travel suit is lightweight, stain- and crease-resistant and offers high-twist yarns for comfort and mobility. The pants are in a cargo style with a jogger bottom. There’s an overshirt in cotton/wool and another is in coated cotton with leather sleeves.
Prices: The line is priced around 30 percent higher than Kenneth Cole New York with the Neoprene bomber at $198; the leather bomber at $695; jackets at $495, and pants at $295.
Designer: Scot Shandalove and Jake Zeitlin
Inspiration: The team behind Matiere, a men’s wear line known for its intricate textiles, wanted to create a younger, more-affordable collection. For fall, Strand, which is in its third season and currently sold at U.S. retailers including Urban Outfitters and Lord & Taylor, is more streamlined and elevated.
Key Styles: Although Strand is more affordable than Matiere, fabric selection is still a signature for the brand. A bomber jacket is made from a speckled wool rayon blend, plaid fleece baseball shirts are constructed with jacquard cotton french terry and a utility jacket is created with a water-resistant polyester herringbone. New details include jogger pants with an interior drawstring, a cotton jersey top with a zip opening and henleys with high-low hems.
Prices: The collection starts at $46 for a raglan T-shirt and goes up to $240 for a mixed media bomber.
Brand: Norman Russell
Designer: Kortney Hastin
Inspiration: When Hastin started his Los Angeles-based denim brand, the collection was made up of 70 percent denim and 30 percent tops. Now the line has evolved into a full lifestyle collection. For fall 2016, Hastin looked to Seventies and Western references.
Key Styles: Work shirts made from denim and flannel feature Seventies-inspired chest pockets. A shawl collar sweater, which is Hastin’s first attempt at knitwear, features mahogany buttons. He’s also expanded his outerwear assortment, which includes a suede moto jacket and a shearling coat. The Oliver, a new denim silhouette, is cropped with a wide leg, while the Norman trouser, which is made from confetti weft denim, is a replica of the jeans Hastin’s grandfather wore when he was in the Navy.
Prices: Wovens retail from $198 to $240; knits retail for $380; jackets are priced from $380 to $1,280; denim retails from $250 to $360, and knitwear is $380.
Brand: Daniel Won
Designer: Daniel Won
Inspiration: The designer, who attended fashion school in both Seoul and New York, launched his collection in fall 2014 with a focus on outerwear. The line has expanded into sportswear as well as it transitions into a lifestyle offering and this season the collection is inspired by military and varsity; leather is a common theme that runs through both classifications.
Key Styles: A military aviator with a zip-off hood and real fox fur has a patch on the front that can be removed to uncover a varsity patch underneath. There is a shirt jacket in a bonded jersey with a fleece lining, popovers look like button-down shirts but with a leather panel across the front. Leather also makes an appearance in a white button-down or a long-sleeve shirt with details on the sleeve. Military references show up in a Henley with a rubber print of dog tags.
Prices: Jackets retail for around $1,000, a bomber is $695, sweaters are $350, T-shirts are $99.50 and jeans range from $195 to $595.
Brand: Mitchell Evan
Designer: Marina Leight
Inspiration: Mitchell Evan Sandler is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker with a taste for fashion. His most recent project, “Day One,” was just nominated for an Academy Award but in his spare time Evan works with Leight to create a military-inspired men’s line. The line was inspired by Sandler’s grandfather, Sgt. Samuel Sandler, who landed in Normandy on June 14, 1944, and served in both France and England during World War II.
Key Styles: With this as a backdrop, Mitchell Evan recently moved the production of the collection to Los Angeles into a factory owned by Leight. She finds deadstock of military fabrics such as parachute cloth and tenting that she repurposes into outerwear, including a tent bomber with a shearling collar, a leather bomber with removable shearling collar, a zippered cotton flannel jacket with a woven front and a knit back and a collarless double-ended zip jacket with quilted patches made from a World War II military tent fabric. There’s also a collection that Sandler calls “Sunday attire,” or comfortable joggers, pullover hoodies, and hemp/cotton T-shirts.
Prices: The hemp T-shirts retail for $110 and a wool and cashmere officer’s coat in olive green is the top of the line, with a retail of $2,200.
Designer: Masahiko Nakane
Inspiration: Chaff is the dry protective casing of wheat, and it’s also the focus of Nakane’s handmade jewelry collection. The Japanese designer is inspired by natural products such as wheat, coffee beans and shells and uses these as inspiration for his rings, bracelets and necklaces. He also uses vintage ceramic pieces that he fashions into decorations for the sterling silver or gold-plated rings. Turquoise is used for bracelets that are fashioned from the material that Japanese swordsmen use to tie their weapons to their belts.
Key Styles: Coffee bean bracelets and necklaces; wheat sheaf designs in rings, and silver and turquoise bracelets.
Prices: Most pieces retail for $150 to $350 with silver chain-link bracelets selling for $700.
Brand: Golden Goose
Designers: Francesca Rinaldo and Alessandro Gallo
Inspiration: After a successful all-white collection that was released four seasons ago, this Italian sneaker brand, which recently collaborated with Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh on a line of sneakers, is starting to shift gears and present cleaner versions of previous styles.
Key Styles: New, minimal sneakers include the Ghost, which is an all-white, monochrome take on Golden Goose’s signature sneaker silhouette; and the Starter, a platform sneaker. Signature, vintage-inspired styles are also receiving newness with more pastel colorways and metallics. Golden Goose has covered an entire sneaker in silver duct tape.
Prices: The sneakers range from $495 to $595.
Brand: ’47 Global Artist Project
Inspiration: ’47, a premium sports lifestyle brand, recently secured the Major League Baseball International license and is promoting that with its Global Artist Project assortment, which will be available worldwide this August. The collection includes MLB merchandise designed by six graffiti artists from Europe: Matthieu Bessudo (McBess) from France; Conzo Throb from the U.K.; Jose Sabate (Pez) from Spain; Lennard Schuurmans (Via Via) from Holland; brothers Christoph and Florin Schmidt (Low Bros) from Germany, and Anya Blom (Bless One) from Sweden.
Key Styles: Each artist made a T-shirt, hoodie, pennant, bucket hat, beanie and baseball caps. Highlights include the Cleveland Indians hoodie created by Via Via, the Oakland A’s pieces inspired by Sixties nostalgia from Conzo Throb and the San Francisco Giants merchandise covered in Pez’s signature piranha.
Prices: Items in the collection retail from $26 for a baseball cap to $150 for a hoodie.
Inspiration: This Vancouver-based footwear line launched in 2009 aiming to create shoes with classic silhouettes and ethylene vinyl acetate uppers. They’ve built on this idea for fall with new styles made for the elements.
Key Styles: The Monaco is an unperforated shoe that comes in a midtop and low-top. The Hydro Collection is a water-resistant assortment treated with Scotchgard’s Defender Repellent System. The line is composed of the Apex, which has a sawtooth rubber outsole; the AP Chukka Hydro, a new take on a desert boot, and the AP Rover sneaker. Native has also released a new white and black colorway in its popular Fitzsimmons boot.
Prices: Footwear retails from $65 to $125.