Collectively Speaking

by Harry Sheff

Wow, what a week.

OK, so I may have mentioned that normally I have an approach to trade shows that involves a quick walk-through, just to get the lay of the land, then I’ll come back for a more in-depth look. This past week’s Collective would have none of that. Basically I rounded the corner upon entering to my left, and was immediately drawn into the Rufus booth. April Singer is one of my favorite people in this business, and her Spring 07 collection is bright, colorful and wearable.

John, caught blogging in mid-market

Only a few steps later, and I was aware of a real buzz in the air. People were WORKING!

Was it true? Were they actually looking at lines? Maybe even leaving paper? Wow. Now, as one retailer noted, the weather sucked; hence, a perfect day for shopping the show, rather than going to the beach. Whatever…we’ll take it. 

Next stop—and this is where I just gave up on the idea of a quick run-through, got out my notepad and started working—I was called over by my old colleague Mark Tannenbaum, who’s now at Options. It’s a collection of basic sportshirts, with a pretty palette, and, as Mark puts it, a linen program that has been all about reorders from stores like Jonathan’s in Cedarhurst, NY.

Options features something they’re calling the “Sportigan,” a gray heather fleece sportcoat…. I also fell in love with a pinstriped version at American Chang. Maybe it’s time for a little fashion déjà vu, recalling Norma Kamali’s groundbreaking 1980 sweatshirt fabric ready-to-wear collection.

As I walked the show, particularly the south wing, I felt like I’d been transported to a Bermuda commercial. All of those classic, formal silhouettes, washed down and in pastel colors…all we were lacking was a bobby to direct traffic. And speaking of islands, the Jack Simpson neckwear line featured an interesting take on Hawaiian style. Rather than making ties with Hawaiian prints, he’s created a collection of neats, featuring idols (how Brady Bunch) and the Hawaiian coat-of-arms: playful without being too loud.

A quick stop at our buddies at Jack of Spades. This collection of denim was one of the first to aim premium denim at men with…let’s say “more than premium” proportions. (And, in the interest of full disclosure, Yes, they fit me just fine!) They’ve adapted their winning fit to jean-cut khakis in cement, khaki, British khaki and white; as well as a standard flat-front. They’re lightly distressed – I joked with Ardie Ulukaya that by the contemporary market’s standards, this wash is practically “raw.” And don’t miss his new 7 ½-ounce Maverick cut.

40 Weft is a new collection at Michael Ryan’s Blue Agency. It has a real military feel, but is washed down enough to feel casual, not camo.

There’s more to come, even just from the South Wing, the rest of the Collective, Blue and the MR Uptown/Downtown awards dinner…like I said…what a week.