MAGIC played a critical role in popularizing urban streetwear in the 1980s when Cross Colours, FUBU, Phat Farm, Sean John and other hip-hop-inspired brands filled the aisles at the trade show and attracted retailers of all types who clamored to add these brands to their mix.
Now in 2023, when hip-hop is celebrating its 50th anniversary, MAGIC and its sister show, Project, embraced that history and recognized some of the figures who defined that era. One of them was Karl Kani, known as the Godfather of Urbanwear, who was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award recognizing his contributions to the industry over the past three decades and his impact on fashion and pop culture.
As Tony Shellman, founder of the Blue Deluxe Group consulting agency, put it: “When one brand hits, it opens a pathway for all the other businesses. That’s what Karl Kani did — he was the tipping point.”
Edwina Kulego, vice president of international and business development and men’s for Informa Markets Fashion, which now owns MAGIC, said Kani and his contemporaries “opened up doors for the Now community and made urban streetwear relevant. We should celebrate this.” Now is the current name for the streetwear section at the Project show.
The celebration will continue at the August edition of the show, she said, when MAGIC hopes to honor some of the most important females in the hip-hop community.
MAGIC and Project still have a section devoted to streetwear brands but they’re complemented by menswear labels in a variety of categories, ranging from tailored clothing and activewear to footwear and accessories.
Here are a few of the highlights from the show:
Brand: Kenneth Cole Collection
Designer: Kenneth Cole creative director Matteo Gottardi
Backstory: It’s been just under two years since Peerless Clothing signed the license for both tailored clothing and sportswear for the venerable brand. In that time, the company’s approach to create “tailored softwear,” or more comfortable, less constructed clothing that can work in an office or at home, has proven popular with retailers, according to Peerless president Dan Orwig. “It’s the new way of hybrid dressing — functional yet polished,” he said.
Key styles: Chore coats, utility jackets, bombers and a new take on suit separates with updated sport coats worn with five-pocket pants, cargos or joggers, are among the top pieces along with stretch cotton polos, performance stretch wovens and a reversible vest with a water-repellent quilted nylon on one side and faux suede on the other.
Retail prices: Five-pocket pants are $89, a utility jacket is $175, polos are $59 to $69, wovens are $79 and long-sleeve knits are $99 to $110.
Brand: Psycho Bunny
Backstory: Alen Brandman was the outerwear licensee for Psycho Bunny when the brand started to experience some operational issues around 2013. The chief executive officer of Thread Collective, a successful Montreal-based manufacturer, stepped in to help and ultimately purchased 100 percent of the brand in 2021. The self-professed lover of product has since expanded the brand’s reach beyond its signature polo shirts into a variety of categories including swimwear and outerwear.
Key styles: An elevated subbrand called Outline, which had a small launch last fall, was among the highlights being showcased. The collection included sweatshirts and sweatpants, polos, T-shirts, shorts and other items. The brand’s familiar logo of a slightly maniacal rabbit is still there, but is more subtle, only showing up as an outline — hence the name — and the fabrics and construction are higher quality than that in the core line. “If you love the bunny,” Brandman said, “this is the more-sophisticated, next level.”
Retail prices: Polos are $155, higher than the $98 price in the core line and sweatshirts are $295, about $100 more than that in the regular collection.
Brand: Brooklyn Cloth
Designer: Daron Jacob, cofounder and chief creative officer
Backstory: The streetwear brand was founded in 2011 by Jacob and Norman Jemel, president of Icer Brands, an apparel manufacturer that holds a license from both the NBA and NFL. The idea was to offer trend-right menswear with monthly drops, similar to that targeted to women by fast-fashion brands. The extensive product line now offers everything from “middle American suburbanwear to streetwear,” he said, for retailers in categories from “value channels to better department stores.”
Key styles: Everything from knit tops and fleece to shorts and full-length bottoms in sherpa-lined plaids and camo patterns. A flannel shacket in a boxy fit with a full zip closure, drop-shoulder bombers, work shirts with a dancing mushroom motif and color-blocked terrycloth polos were also part of the fall collection.
Retail prices: T-shirts sell for $22 to $32, hoodies in the $40 range, joggers were $40 to $46, and shackets ranged from $45 to $75, depending on weight.
Designer: Priscilla Shum, head of product and design
Backstory: The Canadian based brand was founded in 1980 when Alex Tilley needed a good hat for sailing and couldn’t find one. So he decided to make one himself. Known for its signature outdoor adventure hats — mainly bucket and safari options — Tilley has just relaunched under new ownership from Joe Mimram (founder of Club Monaco and Joe Fresh) and has expanded into men’s, women’s and kids’ outerwear, apparel and headwear, all in high-performance materials with an outdoor sensibility and a design ethos that centers on design, function and longevity.
Key styles: Merino sweatshirts (made in Japan), travel safari shirts, an Italian stretch wool trouser with elastic trim on the waistband, seamless waterproof coats, and a wool tech down coat in water-repellent wool are among the key items for fall.
Retail prices: Outerwear ranges from $495 to $895, with $1,000 being the top tier; sweaters and shirts are $160 to $350, the RDS down/merino sweater jackets come in at $495 with the rest of the lineup ranging between $90 to $290.
Backstory: Launched in Istanbul in 1991, Mavi has evolved into an international premium-denim brand for men and women. Mavi, which means “blue” in Turkish, is known for using fabric innovation to create jeans with a fit infused with Mediterranean detailing. Mavi is sold in more than 4,000 specialty stores in 50-plus countries and has more than 400 retail stores with flagships in New York, Vancouver, Montreal, Istanbul and Berlin. For fall, the denim giant is introducing the Natural Dye Collection, using natural dyeing methods that produce earthy color tones achieved through using a mixture of different types of clay colorants and ratios.
Key styles: Oversize shackets with fringe at bottom and denim jeans in various clay tones in the brand’s “Jake” slim-leg iteration are being offered for fall. The lineup is composed of biodegradable nut shell buttons, woven labels and thread made from recycled materials, and the jeans’ back label is made from olive seed which can be planted. Ditto for the hang tag which contains basil seeds.
Retail prices: The Natural Dye Collection is priced at $138 for both tops and bottoms.