New york market week: let there be light!

by Karen Alberg Grossman

The mood during last week’s NY menswear market was overwhelmingly upbeat. Retailers confirmed their commitment to offering fewer basics, more fashion. More than ever, many specialty store merchants are looking to increase private label. Confirms Hal and Julie Lansky at Lansky’s in Memphis: “It’s getting harder and harder to compete with all the discounts and promotions online: offering exclusive product seems the best way to maintain margins.”

For spring ’16, major menswear trends include soft lightweight fabrics, Mediterranean-inspired colors, sheer fabrics (many from the women’s market), featherweight denim, lots of linen (finally American men are accepting wrinkles, although too many still insist on ironing…) and soft, sexy sweaters.

In the linen shirt category, we loved the gorgeous sorbet shades at Raffi, $40-$50 wholesale (with 70 percent markups).

Raffi
Raffi

RaffiInternational Laundry has brought down their prices this season: great linen shirts out of Turkey are now $45 wholesale.

Brenda, Michael and Cyndie at International Laundry
Brenda, Michael and Cyndie at International Laundry

A very special, sophisticated men’s collection, Sebastien James, produces in and around Barcelona, mixing tailored clothing with funkier pieces. A jogger-style pant in super 180s fabric is shown with a shawl collar sportcoat and sheer cotton voile shirt. Check out their perfect jogger pant in cotton/poly/elastin; note the detail (double cuffs, perfect matching) on the shirts (cut one at a time, not stacked…) “The euro is down so we’ve passed along the savings to our retail clients,” says Sebastien Scemla, whose grandfather was a tailor in Europe. Suggested retails are $198-$225 on the shirts, $550-$695 on the jackets and $200-$240 on the pants.

Sebastien Scemla
Sebastien Scemla

Yes he’s back and better than ever! Sal Cesarani (with business partner Willie Fung) offers a fashionable, well-priced collection that’s both stylish and salable. We love the cotton/linen/cashmere knits (a herringbone pattern vest wholesales at $67.50), the reverse cable cardigan at $125 wholesale, the blazer shirt in 90% cotton/10% cashmere and a fabulous cotton/linen striped crew, wholesaling at $57.50. (I was freezing at the Javits Center so I borrowed a super-soft sweater and was very reluctant to give it back…)

Karen at Sal Cesarani's booth
Sal Cesarani, Karen, Willie Fung

Also loved the Spring ‘16 denim collection from 34 Heritage, especially the incredibly light 5.5 ounce featherweight jeans with contrast roll bottom (98% cotton/2% elastin) in beautiful soft shades. Also hot: a 9-ounce denim that booked best in a very bleached wash (it’s back!) Check out the selvedge twill with interior details and trim, and a perfect soft knit jogger (retail $195). The surprise sell-out from spring ’15 to be carried into next spring: knit shorts ($115 retail) in great colors like sage, sky blue and mustard.

34 Heritage
34 Heritage

For those who can’t get enough Modern Prep, a few new entries are worth investigating. Check out Pelican Coast, boasting great fashion, quality make and value prices. Shirts and pants are $79 retail, swimwear at $50-$60, summer cashmere sweaters at $105.

Matt and Hunter at Pelican Coast
Matt and Hunter at Pelican Coast

Offering a unique version of Modern Prep, Tory Lenzo with Blankenship Dry Goods was MRket’s youngest exhibitor. He launched the collection, all made in America, at age 18 while a freshman at NYU. Crafted in NYC (he spent much time investigating production in the garment center) with ample attention to detail (pockets lined with stars and stripes, subtle American flag embroidery), the company donates 5% of profits to the Wounded Warriors project. Wholesales are $50 for shirts and pants, $37.50 for shorts, $17.50 for tees with an exceptionally soft hand.

Blankenship Dry Goods
Blankenship Dry Goods

BlankenshipDryGoods

Federico, Marco and Silvio had to do very little selling at the MRket show. Instead, they just walked the show floor in their fashionable Italian-made Kloters pajamas and generated tons of buzz. Intended to be the Victoria’s Secret for men, the line was picked up by Japanese retailers as sportswear. Wholesales: $25 for pants, $35 for jackets, for a suggested $150 retail for the set. Boxers are $17 cost for a $42 retail, great swimwear cost $35 and socks (in a great cloth pouch) are $11 cost.

Kloters
Kloters

Another special find out of Italy: Sani Gualtiero, shown at MRket by siblings Simone and Sara Sani. “Our grandfather started out making watchbands in Florence,” explained Simone. “This evolved into a full leathergoods collection, especially strong in exotics (croco and lizard).” As a small family business, the company works with local artisans who craft the old-fashioned way: out of their homes. Wholesales on most of these beautiful small leathers range from $19-$500.

Simone and Sara at Sani Gualtiero
Simone and Sara at Sani Gualtiero