As we slog through the Summer doldrums, it occurred to The Shophound
that we had never bothered to cover any of the Men's trade shows that
are hitting New York this week to sell the Spring 2011 collections. Yes,
it's actually time for retailers and press to think about next Spring,
as the European runway shows were already held last month. Since we
were pretty sure it was air conditioned, we headed to the western end of
22nd Street to CAPSULE for the New York leg of
the trade show that presents top men's designer and contemporary
collections. We knew it was a good sign when instead of a dorky ID
badge, we were handed a tiny metal capsule pendant on a cord upon registering.
Upstairs we found three floors of booths featuring over 150 exhibitors
including everything from designer labels to sunglasses to shoes to
artisanal denim to leathergoods and accessories. There was a strong contingent from Stockholm It's a little
overwhelming, but eventually felt like shopping in the best indoor flea
First up was Shophound friend and favorite John Bartlett who landed a
coveted bit of real estate right at the show's entrance. After focusing on
his own boutique and design duties for Claiborne for the past few seasons, Bartlett is
re-entering the wholesale market. His buoyant collection featured
bright Hare Krishna-inspired colors and a custom designed camouflage
print based on his now famous three-legged dog and company mascot Tiny
Tim. It covered everything from polos to yoga bags and sneakers that
were proving to be a surprise hit for the season. For his first offerings after forgoing leather and other animal products, Bartlett is
instead using vibrantly colored Ultrasuede in a soft, supple version
that is a far cry from the stiff jackets of years ago. He shrewdly added a personal dimension to his own favorite workwear and military themes that also happen to be so current at the moment, putting him several steps ahead of many exhibitors.
There was no shortage of the Americana trend that continues to dominate the men's market, and so called "heritage brands" abounded, hoping to further fuel their collective resurgences. Next door to Bartlett was Florsheim's ever expanding Duckie Brown collection which added corded suede oxfords and woven wallaby styles for Spring. The collaboration has been a runaway success, and reps told us that even Brooks Brothers was picking up an exclusive selection, and a limited women's capsule collection is also on the way.
We soon realized that if we went through the entire show in exhaustive detail, it would easily take the rest of the week, so here are some highlights (see a slideshow HERE):
The Perfect Tangent, a Hong Kong based label eschews fit models in favor of the Concept of the Golden Ratio (ø = 1.618034) and scales each size down to the collar and cuff using the Fibonacci sequence. The fit model is not an actual human, but Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man. Sound hopelessly nerdy to you, or just plain inscrutable? Well, the luxurious fabrics and inventively detailed sportswear prove that mathlete and fashion designer need not be mutually exclusive terms.
Spurr, now the sportier, more gently priced label from designer Simon Spurr updated his classic leather bombers with motorcycle zips and translated his signature jeans into lightweight cotton and linen.
Kitsuné, the music label-cum-sportswear brand brought their French take on Preppy sportswear to New York for the first time and introduced a shoe line made for them by Maine moccasin masters Quoddy.
Grahame Fowler recreated the idiosyncratic ambiance of his own West Village boutique to make his collection available to selected retailers for the first time.
Onia, a swimwear line showing its second collection managed to show the kind of sleek, well-cut and thoughtfully detailed bathing suits that tons of men wish they could find.
Fremont, the young L.A based sportswear line has found a way past the preppy/surfer archetypes dominating the men's market by adding an architectural edge to classics.
Schott, the original motorcycle jacket company, offered its premium Perfecto Label in softer, more luxurious leathers and updated cuts, just if you don't happen to have years to break in a steerhide original.
Parabellum's accessories are made from North American Bison hides reinforced with Kevlar, but it's the military grade ceramic buckles and fittings that intrigued us, especially on thoughtfully designed laptop and iPad cases lined with vintage cashmere.
Oh, there's so much more. Tomorrow, the shoes!