by Karen Alberg Grossman

If you haven’t already gotten your copy of MR Magazine’s January 2023 issue, never fear! We’ll be posting every article right here on over the next week or so. You’ll also be able to pick up a copy at most of the menswear trade shows coming up in January, but be sure that we have your name on our mailing list for future issues by completing the form at the link here.

What’s been the biggest change since the pandemic?
The biggest change is that men now have the freedom to present themselves any way they want and it’s all good. I think it’s more the internet than the pandemic, but the work-from-home wave definitely moved us more casual.

But viewing through a longer lens, when you look back at the history of men’s fashion, so much has been based on uniforms, whether army green fatigues or classic blue suits! Now that we’re actually moving away from uniforms (except for weddings and events), men can use clothing to express themselves however they choose. There’s still a level of formality to it, and it’s our job to define the parameters and suggest great choices.

Can you discuss the biggest shifts by category, starting with tailored clothing?
The biggest shift is a hard turn toward truly dressy styles in both nested suits and sportcoats. There’s been a definite shift away from leisure to a balanced mix of classic and fashion. Before the pandemic, we carried a couple of fashion SKUs to keep the floor interesting but most tailored clothing was basic. Now, there’s a more equal split, with half the business in more seasonal fabrics, colors, patterns, and updated models for guys who don’t have to wear suits but are choosing to do so for various reasons.

Do more fashion-forward assortments mean higher markdowns?
Not at all. If we learned one thing during the pandemic, it was to consider what the customer needs in his wardrobe. There’s still such a backlog of social events, at least through next year, that formalwear will remain a bigger piece of our tailored clothing business. We’ve been able to add more variety: four or five different models in black tuxedos, for example. A lot more color, pattern, velvet, clean dinner jackets…

What’s happening in outerwear?
Since it’s 75 degrees on a mid-November afternoon, it’s almost a rhetorical question. Outerwear is a seasonal business, and clearly, the season has not yet started.

That said, the biggest piece of our mix is down-filled, but so far we see an outsized contribution from wools, leathers and suedes, bomber jackets, chore coats, overshirts, pieces that can be worn inside or out, as lightweight outerwear or sportswear.

What about pants and jeans? Any trends here?
Denim at this moment is very clean and office appropriate. Fewer holes, less destruction, minimal rips and repairs. Five-pocket is still the predominant model, but we do see a possible shift in silhouette for 2023. Women have already moved away from skinny styles to embrace several new models, like high-rise, pleats, wide legs, and crops. While it’s unlikely men will go for the extreme options, straight could certainly replace skinny for fall 2023. A more shaped and relaxed style is also on the horizon. We’re on the precipice of the next change, but it won’t happen immediately. While fashion changes by the season in women’s, it’s by the decade in men’s.”

How’s footwear business?
Dress shoes are definitely back! Loafers did incredibly well this fall: the guy who was buying a clean white sneaker was also buying a clean loafer. The guy who likes bolder streetwear-inspired sneakers is now buying bolder loafers. Sneakers are still very important, but the big shift is to dressier styles. Hero items for us are Birkenstocks and Boston clogs.

How would you describe your personal style and what was your most recent purchase?
I’m definitely modern-classic. I believe in a wardrobe of building blocks where pieces can mix and blend in various ways. I’ll wear a great cashmere sweater with either sweats or wool trousers. My most recent purchase: a Massimo Alba hip-length jacket, straight bottom, three pockets, in a beautiful blue-on-blue herringbone. It’s these kinds of “third pieces” that are driving sales this season.

What are you doing to get more young guys into the store? Is luxury streetwear important to your mix?
We’re very focused on offering the best product at a variety of prices, whether it’s a $150 jean or a $2,500 blazer. We find the best version within different price ranges so there’s value for every point of view, be it classic or contemporary.

As for luxury streetwear, we’re indebted to streetwear manufacturers for adding this graphic, colorful element of street culture to our offerings. Even when customers don’t wear it all together, certain elements define a specific point of view that’s an important part of the mix.