Bode Men's Spring 2019

Men’s wear retailers had a choice to make this week: stay in New York for the men’s runway shows or jump a flight to Las Vegas for the trade shows.

As reported, both events overlap this season; an unfortunate shift in dates by Project to a week earlier forced merchants and vendors to choose between the two.

NYFW: Men’s will run Feb. 4 to 6 in New York City — the start of the larger 10-day New York Fashion Week — while Project, Liberty Fairs and Agenda will run Feb. 5 to 7 in Las Vegas.

The men’s part of the show calendar has had trouble gaining traction since it was introduced by the Council of Fashion Designers of America four years ago. Most of the marquee designers have either opted for dual-gender shows — Tom Ford, Michael Kors and John Elliott among them — or showed in Europe, such as Ralph Lauren and Thom Browne. Other men’s designers have opted out of showing in New York altogether including Billy Reid, Perry Ellis and Carlos Campos.

With some exceptions — Joseph Abboud, Todd Snyder, Robert Geller and Ovadia & Sons — the men’s-specific days on the calendar are full of little-known designer names, many of them from Asia.

That being said, high-end retailers, most of whom are based in New York, are still planning to attend the men’s shows to check out the under-the-radar brands in hopes of finding some gems.

Here, WWD talks to men’s merchants about what they’re hoping to find at the shows or the reasons they decided to skip the runway presentations this season.

 

Tom Kalenderian, executive vice president, general merchandise manager, men’s and Chelsea Passage, Barneys New York: 

Will you be attending NYFW: Men’s?

The Barneys men’s team will be attending many shows and presentations during NYFW: Men’s.

Do you find a separate men’s week to be useful or do you think it isn’t needed? 

It is difficult to put the spotlight only on what happens in New York since the topic of when to show men’s wear internationally is a somewhat fractured and chaotic picture. In New York, many American brands are absent, showing in Europe for the most part. In Europe, the men’s brands are divided between showing during their corresponding men’s fashion weeks in London, Florence, Milan and Paris, or they show outside of the men’s calendar together with the women’s shows. In spite of these difficulties, we remain committed to see as much as we can to make the best decisions for our merchandise assortment.

Which shows are you most eager to see in New York?

Our list for NYFW: Men’s is a mix of some men’s-only and dual-gender collections. I am looking forward to seeing the Prabal Gurung show, as we are launching his first men’s collection now. It will be great to see Palm Angels, Helmut Lang, Dyne, Sundae School and John Elliott. I just received an invite from the Ovadia brothers to see their exhibition in an art loft setting, which sounds very sophisticated.

Dyne Men's Spring 2019

Dyne’s spring collection was of interest to stores.  Rodin Bianca/WWD

Based on what you saw during the shows in Europe, where are the opportunities for fall in men’s in terms of categories and brands, and are you planning to add any of the New York designers if their collections are good this season?

We have our eye on quite a few new brands; one of which we are most excited to feature is the launch of Buscemi apparel.

 

Roopal Patel, senior vice president of fashion direction, Saks Fifth Avenue

Will you be attending NYFW: Men’s?

Yes, men’s fashion in New York is very important and relevant when you look at American fashion and the trends that have emerged. We look forward to it.

Do you find a separate men’s week to be useful or do you think it isn’t needed? 

Considering how New York Fashion Week has been changing, it’s very helpful and more efficient to combine the weeks for retailers and designers. A seven-day calendar would be helpful.

Which shows are you most eager to see in New York?

We’re always on the lookout for new brands and it’s an incredible opportunity to see new talent. We just added Fear of God and Rhude out of L.A. In New York, we’re looking forward to seeing Telfar, a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner; Dyne, who shows so much promise, and we like the theatrics of Palomo Spain. There are also some new names, especially during New York Men’s Day, so it’ll be a discovery for all of us.

Telfar RTW Spring 2019

Much of Telfar’s collection is unisex.  Courtesy Photo

Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus

Will you be attending NYFW: Men’s?

Yes. I am very much looking forward to attending NYFW: Men’s as I have every season since its inception. I know that the show roster and number of participants ebbs and flows from season to season but I do still find it valuable and have definitely seen designers and brands that we have found compelling for both Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. I do think that Erin Hawker’s New York Men’s Day also adds to the sense of discovery necessary for these fashion weeks.

Do you find a separate men’s week to be useful or do you think it isn’t needed? 

In order to maximize the impact and effect, it is vital to coordinate the men’s market and trade shows here in New York City with NYFW: Men’s and it is unfortunate this year that they are not in sync. Also, as in Paris, showrooms can take a greater role and add an important presence to the fashion week, rounding out runway shows and presentations with various collections presented to editors and buyers.

Which shows are you most eager to see in New York?

Emily Bode is one designer, in particular, who made an immediate impact on me after her first presentation and I’m thrilled to be stocking her collection at my new B. shop at Bergdorf Goodman’s men’s store opening Feb. 4 in time for fashion week. And I am always on the lookout for others who present a fresh, exciting voice in men’s wear.

 

Justin Berkowitz, men’s fashion director, Bloomingdale’s

Will you be attending NYFW: Men’s? 

Yes, I will attend a number of shows; some during the few days dedicated to men’s wear and some dual-gender shows later in the week.

Do you find a separate men’s week to be useful or do you think it isn’t needed? 

It is probably more necessary when seeing the spring-summer collections as the timing is so removed from the women’s calendar. That said, the upcoming schedule feels less “separate” as the days meld together between men’s only and dual-gender shows.

Which shows are you most eager to see in New York?

A mix of shows and presentations; I think one of the more special things about NYFW is the opportunity to see independent voices and creators present their collections on our home turf. A few I’m looking forward to are Dyne, Bode, Todd Snyder, John Elliott, and Helmut Lang.

John Elliott RTW Spring 2019

John Elliott will be holding a dual-gender show for fall.  Rodin Banica/WWD

Based on what you saw during the shows in Europe, where are the opportunities for fall in men’s in terms of categories and brands, and are you planning to add any of the New York designers if their collections are good this season?

There are certain American brands that often nail the mix — a bit of sport/informal combined with a bit of tailored/formal. That feels like the biggest opportunity for the fall. While the shows in Europe showed an overarching return to elegance, my feeling is that for the American consumer, the shift will be more gradual.

 

Damien Paul, head of men’s wear, Matchesfashion.com

Will you be attending NYFW: Men’s?

Yes, I will. We have good business with several U.S. designers on schedule and it is always a good place to seek out the best U.S. talent.

Do you find a separate men’s week to be useful or do you think it isn’t needed?

I think in many ways joining men’s wear and women’s wear fashion weeks makes sense in some of the cities, especially for travel schedules that are already very consuming. That said, when it comes to co-ed shows, generally, women’s wear becomes the focus, which is of course disappointing especially when the men’s wear is diluted and squashed into a women’s wear show as a token gesture. The great thing with men’s shows and weeks is that you see clear trends emerge and evolve. Each designer presents a pure vision of their men’s wear offer, which is vital for our storytelling.

Which shows are you most eager to see in New York?

Bode, which is a men’s wear collection, although our women’s team also picked up pieces from the men’s collection for spring.

Based on what you saw during the shows in Europe, where are the opportunities for fall in men’s in terms of categories and brands, and are you planning to add any of the New York designers if their collections are good this season?

Well, we have seen a shift toward tailoring, not based on tradition but rather a modern take on the suit and a distinct move from streetwear. We’ve also seen a fantastic array of knitwear and, of course, a belted coat is important. Key in footwear was the boot, in many variations. I’m keeping an open mind — in New York you will see a brand like Bode whose aesthetic immediately grabs you, so let’s just say I’m looking forward to new discoveries.

 

Fiona Firth, buying director, Mr Porter

Will you be attending NYFW: Men’s?

Yes, we will be in New York for the February shows and seasonal buying appointments.

Do you find a separate men’s week to be useful or do you think it isn’t needed? 

Personally, for the European shows, I prefer men’s-focused weeks. It’s a less crowded atmosphere, giving us more time with our partners and to discover new brands. That said, I understand the efficiency of brands that consolidate their men’s and women’s shows, and these are most often tied to the women’s calendar. There seems to be a nice flow in New York this season that includes early days dedicated to men’s with mixed-gender brands showing later in the week.

Which shows are you most eager to see in New York?

Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren, Palm Angels, John Elliott, Sies Marjan. As in seasons past, I can imagine Tom Ford and John Elliott will show men’s and women’s. Todd Snyder is men’s only.

Todd Snyder

Todd Snyder has been a regular on the NYFW: Men’s calendar. 

Based on what you saw during the shows in Europe, where are the opportunities for fall in men’s in terms of categories and brands, and are you planning to add any of the New York designers if their collections are good this season?

We’ve seen a lot of great sportswear, but the key trend this season for me is tailoring and the use of both traditional tailoring cloth and casual fabrics. Suiting is back in a big way and was seen across most catwalk collections in Milan and Paris. We’ll be looking out for some fantastic tailoring and structured suits on the New York runways.

 

Durand Guion, group vice president, Fashion Office, Macy’s Inc. 

Will you be attending NYFW: Men’s?

We had to make a very difficult decision to skip NYFW: Men’s this season due to the overlap with the Las Vegas trade shows. It is unfortunate because supporting New York brands and staying tapped into our local fashion industry is a key part of our role. It is particularly disappointing this season as we have some soon-to-be announced plans for the Herald Square Men’s Store that will provide an opportunity to bring a new mix of truly elevated brands and collaborations into our flagship location.

Do you find a separate men’s week to be useful or do you think it isn’t needed? 

I continue to enthusiastically support the idea of a separate men’s week as the acceleration of men’s wear at all levels truly warrants it. However, it must be scaled and supported in a different way to be worthwhile. In today’s world of retail, time, energy and financial resources must be carefully evaluated to deliver a maximum return on investment.

 

Alex Chirgadze, men’s wear buyer, Opening Ceremony

Will you be attending NYFW: Men’s?

Yes, of course.

Do you find a separate men’s week to be useful or do you think it isn’t needed?

Both have their pluses and minuses, but the huge advantage of New York Fashion Week: Men’s being separate is actually to give some light to the new up-and-coming designers who otherwise would have been overshadowed by the plethora of industry giants all showing at once. It allows buyers the freedom of not having to choose between going to see a big brand or new designer.

Which shows are you most eager to see?

Overall, Ka Wa Key, Keenkee, Landlord, Telfar, Eckhaus Latta and Luar are all shows I’m most excited about. They are also brands Opening Ceremony has discovered and has carried since their first collection. Most of the brands are unisex.

Based on what you saw during the shows in Europe, where are the opportunities for fall in men’s in terms of categories and brands, and are you planning to add any of the New York designers if their collections are good this season?

There is a great transition to sartorial elegance in men’s wear and that’s what I am super excited about. We are always looking for new and up-and-coming designers, especially from our home city of New York.