Karen Alberg Grossman
by Karen Alberg Grossman

Portrait of Karen for MR Magazine

In this, MR’s first ever style issue, we tackle a few essential industry issues. What is style in 2018? Who’s got it and why do we think so? What makes a brand cool and what happens to its cool factor once it’s broadly distributed and/or overly discounted? In this precarious era of disruption, discord, and volatility—in fashion, retail and politics—how can forecasters accurately predict trends? What are the key trends for fall ‘18 and beyond? How can iconic/heritage brands reinvent themselves and how can emerging brands get noticed on an increasingly cluttered internet? And in a world where disasters, both natural and manmade, are daily occurrences, how important are clothes really?

Of course, our answer to the last question is VERY. In fact, after 28 years of analyzing men’s fashion, we believe that fashion today is more relevant, and certainly more exciting, than ever. Consider age-old adages that still ring true: What’s outside reflects what’s inside. We have only one chance to make a first impression. Clothes provide a daily opportunity to reinvent ourselves. Clothes can elevate mood or change it entirely. Shifts in fashion reflect social, political and economic changes in the world. Clothes make the man. Fashion is fun!

Consider too the more recent cultural and technological changes impacting the fashion world. With less restrictive dress codes, fashion has become increasingly eclectic and personal, rather than dictatorial. Creativity abounds, with new gender fluidity, unexpected brand collaborations, and diverse ethnic influences all impacting men’s fashion. Ever-evolving technical fabrics and features have led to clothing that performs as well as decorates. The proliferation of online options makes shopping virtually effortless, a shift that should ultimately increase sales. And the growing number of brands and stores giving back, be it through fundraising events, charity tie-ins, cause marketing, ethical sourcing, sustainability, etc., reflects the extent to which our industry cares about creating a better world. (Of course, giving back these days is also good business!)

On a personal note, I’m so proud to be part of an industry that believes in people as well as profits and I can’t wait to see what the new year has in store. Among the much-anticipated innovations, expect to see some exciting changes at Project/MRket at the Javits Center on January 21-23. According to UBM fashion director Tommy Fazio, the show floor will be more focused and compelling than ever, with an unprecedented emphasis on trend direction (styled by Matthew Marden from Esquire). “We’re merchandising the show the way retailers want to shop, calling out what’s new and ensuring each area is well defined and inspirational,” says Fazio.

With thanks to our loyal readers and friends for your inspiration over the years, we at MR wish you a joyful, peaceful and STYLISH 2018!