Here’s the inside scoop on what went down at the recent Denim by Premiere Vision show held in Paris for Spring 13. (For the full report and more trends, check Fashion Snoops this week!) Those familiar with the show know that it’s THE most important tradeshow for denim.. a place where denim weavers and laundries present their latest developments to the who’s who of global denim brands. I’ve been covering the show and interviewing exhibitors ever since it started 9 seasons ago and I have to say the most recent show was in ways a departure from the rest. Why’s that? One of the most important trends to take away was NON-DENIM!
The message from the over 20 exhibitors that I met with was very similar. Everyone’s tired of indigo, so let’s bring in the alternatives. Chinos and Twills, which have been present at the show for the past 2 seasons explode into full-blown assortments.
Another option comes in the form of Gabardine and Herringbone. It should be noted that in many of the non-denim options, treatments and finishes which were previously applied to denim are now used on these alternative fabrics.
Another denim alternative is chambray. Yes we’ve seen it before on shirting, but this time around chambray expands into bottom weights as well.
Another HUGE do-not-miss trend at the show was COLOR. There wasn’t one tone or shade that stood out from the rest, with the majority of exhibitors featuring a full range of brights. Color applies to both denim and non-denim, with countless ready-to-dye options. Sulfer dyes and pigment two-tone color are featured.
Double faced fabrics also answer the call to color.
Getting back to actual denim there are some new blues to be had. In fact, exhibitors typically featured a range of these blues from 70s tones to crayola blues and even pales. Looks like someone finally got the memo on the 70s trend in sportswear.
Continuing along the same lines of newness, grey denim is also popular.
Indigo doesn’t entirely disappear, with intense, saturated colors remaining.
In terms of treatment and finishings, plasticized coatings are number one. Printed denim and non-denim becomes a new option which is sure to be a winner in the youth market.
I should note that the S-T-R-E-T-C-H trend continues, with comfort stretch featured nearly everywhere. And for the jegging crowd, stretch progresses with new advancements for shape retention, i.e. no more sagging in the butt with wear. But perhaps the most interesting advancement above all is the ability to achieve knit-like wovens with new fabric technology. Isko and Bossa both featured these fabrics (along with some actual knit ones).. talk about taking comfort to the next level!
**Just thought I’d share a feature I contributed to the 2012 Department Store Yearbook. It’s an in-depth look at the shape of men’s retail today (in store and online) and presents a world of possibility for brands and retailers. Enjoy!
Men finally have their very own stores to shop in after sharing retail space with womenswear for decades. The reason for the shift comes as a result of both a more educated male customer, and also because men are more into fashion and largely making their own buying decisions without influence from their female counterparts. That means that the time is right for retailers and e-tailers to finally market to guys, cultivating their very own man cave to explore.
One of the pioneers of the men’s-only retail concept is J. Crew. In 2008 the Liquor Store (named for its former use) opened in New York City’s TriBeCa neighborhood, selling an expanded selection of men’s products, which had previously only sold under one roof alongside womenswear. J. Crew’s men’s-only stores have had much success and are attributed to revitalizing the menswear business. The stores now boast 4 locations, 3 in New York City and 1 in a mall in New Jersey. Aside from offering a complete universe of J. Crew menswear and select third-party brands, each location retains elements from the store’s former use, such as the aforementioned liquor store signage as well as a bank vault used to display product at another location. Accessories and lifestyle products that inspire each store are also factored in including coffee table books, DVDs and vintage items.
Ralph Lauren has also helped cultivate men’s-only retail by turning his New York City Rhinelander Mansion into a 4-story men’s destination in 2010. While Mr. Lauren has always been a master of visual merchandising, it’s important to note that in this instance, as well as the other examples, simply creating a more “masculine” concept of the women’s stores isn’t the answer. At Mr. Lauren’s men’s-only address, 5 different brand labels are featured amidst displays like a hunting lodge. Customization and personalization services also heighten the experience. And as is the case with most men’s-only stores, the women’s store is located conveniently right across the street.
European luxury brands are also expanding into men’s-only retail outlets. 2010 was a telling year starting with Hermes Man on Madison Avenue in New York. In Paris, Balenciaga opened the first freestanding men’s store with a high-tech look featuring cube displays and an illuminated staircase.
Dries Van Noten also went the route of men’s-only in Paris and sells one-of-a-kind products not sold elsewhere. In Fall 2011, another crop of luxury brands opened men’s-only locales, including Christian Louboutin in Paris, Jimmy Choo in London (a simultaneous men’s collection and store launch) and Valentino in Hong Kong.
With so many designers and brands going the route of brick-and-mortar men’s-only stores, it will become increasingly difficult for department stores to differentiate themselves. If you’re a department store with only a selection of a branded product, the customer is going to go to the designer’s store for greater assortment. One solution would be collaborations between retailers and brands to provide “exclusive” product and drive customers into department stores. It is also becoming more important for department stores to invest in their own private label lines, which can be used to fill a void in merchandise and also help in developing a unique identity. Keeping in mind that men tend to be highly brand/store loyal, department stores have the added advantage of selling familiar labels, while also introducing new ones that customers will be more open to because they’re right next to their favorite brands. The key to this is finding the right balance to make the customer feel at home with the brands they know, while presenting just the right amount of newness.
THE LANGUAGE OF SHOPPING ONLINE & EDITORIALS
Knowing that we are now dealing with a more educated and interested customer, the key to success for brands and retailers is to engage the male audience. Recognizing the fact that men shop differently than women is key, and so far the e-commerce route has been much more editorial, speaking to a man’s quest for information and advice.
Launched in February 2011, Mr Porter, the male extension of Net-a-Porter, has already achieved much success. The e-tailer features extensive editorial content ranging from brand introductions to style icons and lifestyle tips. Much of the point there is to engage the customer into what to wear and how to wear it. The site’s Style Advice section is popular for answering common questions from an expert, and then suggesting related products to purchase. Recognizing that there is still the demand for women shoppers, Mr Porter also launched a guide geared to women buying for men.
Gilt Groupe, the American purveyor of flash sales, has also quickly grown into several male outlets. First there was Gilt Man, the flash sale site in which 400,000 male customers proved that women are not alone in their quest for discounted impulse buys. Then, GiltMANual was introduced as an editorial outlet providing fashion news, mostly drawing viewers back to flash sales.
In August 2011, Gilt launched Park & Bond, a full-priced men’s site which not only offers a full assortment of products, but also provides more extensive advice and editorials. Furthering the cross between editorials and retail, GQ magazine teamed up with Park & Bond for a brick-and-morter pop-up store in New York City just in time for Holiday 2011.
Coach has had men in mind ever since the launch of their first men’s-only store in New York City back in 2010. While the brick-and-mortar store concept continues to expand (a new men’s store recently opened in Las Vegas and a Coach Men’s pop-up opened in London for the holidays), Coach has a men’s Facebook page which has harbored over 14,000 fans since May 2011. The goal here is parallel to other editorial initiatives, featuring products and features such as “Did you Know” with the goal to educate the customer.
The younger male customer is also becoming more responsive to editorials. Topman recently launched Topman Generation, a monthly online magazine that features icons, music, film and art. The only connection to product is noted on items worn by featured personalities, with the end point once again speaking to engage the customer.
A STYLISH RELATIONSHIP: MAN & BRAND
It’s an exciting time in men’s retail. The eagerness of men to listen and learn makes retail and e-tail environments much more enticing. We are no longer only speaking to wife or girlfriend who tends to buy exactly what they’re looking for; instead we’re providing the story behind brands and educating men on what to wear and how to wear it. Knowing that men and women shop differently in both brick-and-mortar and online environments means that we can now provide men with the right options to engage them, increasing loyalty and encouraging an ongoing style relationship.
Drawstrings become an important detail on men’s bottoms for S12. An athletic or surf reference is evident on both pants and shorts.
Pieced construction continues to be one of the leading details for Spring 12. In New York, we see a number of designers follow through with contrast sleeves, especially in leather.
The brands at NY Fashion Week, that’s who. European designers have been driving short shorts, however the acceptance of the silhouette in NY signals a more widespread influence of this trend.
Although in Europe we see designers transition from the double breasted blazer into elongated single breasted styles, in New York brands prove that double breasted silhouettes are still relevant, and above all, commercial.
Edgy European collections introduced the concept of sheer layering for Spring 12. However what we saw in Paris was much more forward, especially considering that sheer materials often nodded to a very feminine influence. In New York designers present transparent fabrics in a more subtle and commercial way.