Jack Jones

Jack & Jones

The Jack & Jones men’s label is a household name in Europe and Asia but is still a fledgling brand in North America. That’s about to change.

A division of Denmark’s Bestseller group, the denim-focused brand operates more than 1,000 stores on its home continent of Europe as well as 2,000 in China. It entered Canada more than a decade ago and has 48 stand-alone stores in that country. Now it sets its sights on the U.S. market.

Because of its Canadian presence, Jack & Jones has been sold in all Lord & Taylor stores — its parent is Toronto-based Hudson’s Bay Co. — for the past two years, and the goal is to add more moderately priced department and specialty stores in America. Macy’s and the Buckle have also started to carry the collection with Bloomingdale’s coming on board for fall, the company said.

In order to service its U.S. business, Jack & Jones has set up an office here with its own management team and sales force.

“We’ve been training in the Canadian market for 12 years, but there’s a lot of knowledge we know we don’t have [about the U.S. customer],” said Dennis Birk Jorgensen, sales director. “But now that we’re in all doors at Lord & Taylor, we’ve had good feedback and see the opportunity to build the brand here.”

The U.S. offering will be tweaked from that offered internationally, with fewer styles, more roomy silhouettes and a focus on zippers rather than button-flys on the jeans. “Our international strategy is to offer 500 hangars,” Jorgensen said, “but we only need 100 for the U.S. market.”

For spring, slim-straight jeans, a year-round bomber jacket and graphic T-shirts are among its most popular offerings. Jeans retail for $69 to $149 while T-shirts sell for $14.90 to $19.90. And because of the depth of the Jack & Jones offering, Jorgensen said, “We have enough product to segment at will.”

Jorgensen said that although retail is a big driver of the brand internationally, the U.S. push will be for wholesale exclusively — at least for now. “We always start with wholesale so we can get the message from the consumer first,” he said.

In addition to regular sizes, Jack & Jones also offers big and tall as well as kids. But in both cases, these collections mimic the brand’s core men’s line. “We did our homework and found that the plus guy was put in a corner, and there’s no reason for that any longer,” Jorgensen said. “And kids want a more adult look.” Accessories and shoes will be offered here eventually as well, he added.

Jack & Jones, which was founded in 1990 as the first men’s offering from the privately held Bestseller group and is now the corporation’s largest brand and “committed to being green,” Jorgensen said, and has a goal to be 100 percent sustainable within four years.  — JEAN E. PALMIERI  

Mazu Resortwear

Mazu Resortwear  Courtesy Photo

Mazu Resortwear

More than swim trunks, Mazu Resortwear is in the storytelling business.

While new brands hit the ground running and figure out their DNA along the way, founder and designer Adam Raby started with a well-crafted tale for his Hong Kong-based men’s and boys’ collection where every detail holds meaning. And he had a lot of good material to mine with the city’s immensely rich maritime mythology and history.

“You need a fundamental concept if you’re going to be a long-term company,” said Raby, during his Stateside premiere at Miami Swim Week in July. “We are unique. People want an emotional connection.”

Identifying a white space in the swimwear market for a designer line produced in Asia, the preppy, professional rugby player with an advertising and sports apparel background launched Mazu five years ago. It’s represented at luxury stores and resorts throughout Asia including Lane Crawford, Four Seasons, Aman, Como and One&Only, so he’s expanding to the Western Hemisphere with similar prestige accounts in mind. In the U.S., men’s suits retail for $155 to $180, and boys’ for $100. Raby feels the time is ripe for Western markets to embrace Asian brands.

“With globalization, more people are traveling to Asia. There’s interest in the region like the Art Basel fair in Hong Kong,” he said. In addition, Eurasians like himself are now being featured in advertising campaigns and look books as another bridge and contemporary statement.

Raby, who named his line after the Chinese goddess of the sea, comes from a nautical background. His grandfather served in the Royal Navy, while his father sails and photographed many of Mazu’s marketing images of 20th-century Hong Kong. Swimwear prints depict various vessels from iconic wooden junks and China’s grand sailing ships to sampans, flat fishing boats. Others reference maritime materials such as bamboo and tiles, whose geometric patterns disguised Fuzhou junks from pirates, as well as sketches of the Keying, a junk that’s famous for being the first Chinese ship to sail to England and America in the 1840s.

“When my dad photographed the harbor in the Seventies and Eighties, these boats were for commercial use. But now they’re mostly for tourists,” Raby said.

Suits’ handmade metal aglets shaped like monkey fist knots also pay homage to the seafaring working class. Besides weapons of thick, coarse rope, the sailor knot’s fabric versions were a cheap substitute for buttons. He chose gold hardware as a symbol of wealth and adopts his signature knot versus traditional buttons for polo shirts, which debut along with T-shirts for resort 2019. Red, the Chinese color for good luck, appears more often such as sailor’s canvas ditty bags, which come with every suit.

“People don’t look on the inside of suits,” he said, turning a pair inside out to reveal red stitching and clean construction. “But the details are important to me.”

Charity is also part of his mission. Proceeds from swim trunks printed with pink dolphins support conservation efforts for Chinese white dolphins. (Their blood flow turns them pink.) “They’re native to Hong Kong, and their natural habitat has been developed,” he said. — REBECCA KLEINMAN

Atelier Tuffery

Atelier Tuffery  Courtesy Photo

Atelier Tuffery

This heritage French denim label lays claim to being the oldest jeans manufacturer in France.

Founded in 1892 by Célestin Tuffery, who created a clothing workshop in Florac, in the heart of the Cévennes mountains, the family-owned company originally specialized in indigo-dyed workwear.

Tuffery’s son, Jean-Alphonse, in the early Twenties introduced styles made from toile de Nîmes — denim’s main ingredient, which originated in the French town of Nîmes — and one of those archive patterns figures among the brand’s offer today.

Now the label is helmed by fourth-generation family member Julien Tuffery and his wife Myriam, who work with fabrics produced locally in the South of France, as well as a premium Spanish cloth and Italian selvage denim.

In its heyday in the Sixties, Atelier Tuffery was producing 500 jeans per day and employed up to 40 clothiers. Today, after being hit by the period of historic decline in France’s textile industry in the late Seventies, it’s a much more intimate affair. The brand is only sold on its own web site, though this fall it will enter a new concept store in Paris’ Marais district, Ambassade Excellence, focused on French brands with know-how.

Styles include jean jackets and dungarees with a focus on classic, timeless cuts. Prices go from 99 euros to 300 euros. A made-to-measure service is also available at the brand’s atelier and store in Florac in the Cévennes National Park. — KATYA FOREMAN