by Karen Alberg Grossman

With trade shows and showrooms spread out all over the city, it’s hard to be everywhere and see everything. We asked some savvy retailers what they loved, and what they plan to buy, for fall ‘19.

Dana Katz,  Miltons, Braintree and Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts:

For fall ’19, I’m planning to grow sportscoats and casual bottoms. My most exciting finds include a Cardinal of Canada corduroy puffer jacket, Hugo Boss Japanese fabric washable suit separates, and Peerless outerwear with battery-operated coat warmers.

Bruce Liles, Liles Clothing Studio, Raleigh, North Carolina:

Some of the exciting trends I found and plan to buy:

*The color story at Eleventy. The grey/navy/camel/cream palette set the mood for many of my category buys.

*Shoes with the technology and comfort of a sneaker combined with dressy uppers, such as at Scarpe di Bianco and Santoni. 

*The jogger pant, in many brands, from knit and jersey fabrics to dress wools.

*The whole Neapolitan feeling of southern Italy, combining beautiful fabrics and soft tailoring in a unique and elegant way. Orazio Luciano is a particular favorite, but there are some wonderful sportswear offerings as well. The “Made in Italy” section of Mrket offered quick access to many quality lines at once.

*Great vests at Maurizio Baldassari and the linen sweaters at Inis Meain.

*A great double-faced pea coat from Samuelsohn. Weightless jackets from Hickey Freeman. *Beautiful print shirts from Stenstroms. Vintage turtlenecks from Gran Sasso. A wonderful safari jacket and some great overcoats at Ring Jacket.

*Socks were fresh at Edward Armah. Knits that look like wovens at Left Coast Tee.

Knit and performance fabrics were a huge trend, as was an injection of street and athletic influences even in some rather traditional lines. Runners and alpine boots seemed prevalent in casual footwear. Scarves, bandannas, bracelets and pocket squares were big in accessories. Turtlenecks were everywhere.

For fall ’19, I plan to grow both sportswear and tailored by showing how they can be worn together. I plan to work with vendors who maintain stock positions and make sure I keep the right mix on the floor while working within my open to buy. I plan also to grow our made to measure business, already a big percentage of our overall number, by seeking out vendors who provide quick turnaround, artisanal quality, and great value. I’m working directly with several mills for an unparalleled fabric selection.

Stephen Shendow, Bell’s, Winchester, Virginia:

We’re always searching for “the unique”, “the special”, to challenge our clients without scaring them. The word is ‘enticement’ since most men need nothing, enticing them is really the key. In order to be a true specialty retailer, clothing must be selected and presented as an “art form” …something truly unique. Otherwise, customers won’t be inspired. Uniqueness is something all businesses must seek. While the “distribution model” receives all the accolades, the “art form” model is just as viable.  

We’ve been in a solid world —navy and black— for too long. The continued reemergence of colorful, fantasy outerwear, sweaters, trousers is the excitement. Unique pieces: Dalmine, Schneider, Jack Victor, Canali, Handstitch, Oxford Lads, Gimos.

For us, the growth is coming not from a single category or brand but rather from continually re-allocating resources to bring excitement to the overall store. While “window pieces” are key to uniqueness, coordinating less unique pieces with special pieces to create that “aha” moment” is also necessary since few men will buy a wardrobe of window pieces.

David Rubenstein, Rubensteins, New Orleans, Louisiana:

Fall product is often a little too heavy for us in New Orleans but this time around I found lots of well-priced sportswear that looked terrific. Although no single item or brand stands out (except some new synthetics geared to an upscale customer and everything at Michael Sestak’s showroom), there was plenty of innovation in the market: sportscoats, sportswear and especially outerwear. We had cut back on orders when the stock market tanked but now we’re finding we’ll probably come up a bit short.

David Matsudaira, Butch Blum, Seattle, Washington:

We were very excited to see many offerings from many vendors in ideas that we had gone into market already planning to grow – mid-priced, unconstructed, soft-shouldered coats and suits in interesting fabrics (L.B.M.1911 and Angelo Nardelli looked especially good); higher-end cashmere pieces in unique silhouettes (Colombo and Fioroni were impressive); weather-friendly, cool outerwear pieces for our wet winter climate (Herno had plenty to offer); and great sweaters with interesting and unique yarns (Inis Meain never disappoints).  Aside from these, not unexpectedly, we saw a lot of corduroy in every category, which we will grow, and lots of flannel.

Larry Davidson, Davidsons, Roanoke, Virginia:

If men remember this cold winter, I hope to get some growth from chunky sweaters. I saw some great looks from the Peter Millar Collection and beautiful Irish sweaters from Irelands Eye. The sportcoat business still has room for growth. Softer coats in general and in particular the value and spectacular fabrics from TailoRed – a division of Peerless. I saw many fresh looks in 5 pockets in fabrics that are not denim – especially 34 Heritage. Tretorn has rainwear made from groundfish nets, i.e. tossed out fishing nets of fabric as tough as steel that is abandoned in the sea. Left there, they destroy reefs and tangle or choke fish and other sea life. Instead, Tretorn reclaims the netting which is then ground up and turned into fabric. It’s a great recycling story.

Scott Shapiro, Syd Jerome, Chicago, Illinois:

What I didn’t like about New York was the weather. What I liked best was taking some time to talk to other retailers, over drinks or over dinner, to learn what they discovered, which helps me find new lines I never knew about. This trip, I found a few new sweater collections; also, a new Alpaca scarf maker and a wonderful belt collection out of France, both showing at a suite at the AKA Hotel. It’s hard sometimes when you have to shop all your major collections (and those appointments can take five hours) to fit in time for discovery so I’m grateful to those retailers who point me in a new direction. At the major brands, I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot more color in patterned sportcoat fabrics.

Brad Sherman, Hubert White, Minneapolis, Minnesota:

I am hot on the following brands/trends for Spring 19.  We will be in Chicago looking for more, but this is the impression NYC left with us.

  1. Zegna sportswear – phenomenal (and expensive)
  2. Maurizio Baldassari – very strong, especially in knit and jersey categories (trending)
  3. Incotex 1.0  new cotton program with soft waistband and easy closures
  4. Corneliani outerwear was very strong
  5. Gran Sasso’s knit blazers

The main trends we saw were jersey fabrics and knitwear.

Photo courtesy of Informa Exhibitions



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