This week MR is taking a look at the outerwear business – where it’s currently at, where it’s going and who is buying and wearing coats and jackets that are dressy, technical or perhaps a combination of the two.
After talking to vendors and retailers, it’s clear that the outerwear “crystal ball” for Fall 2022 is predicting two hot topics: Stylishness and Sustainability. The former will see a swing toward overcoats as customers seem to be overdosed on puffy parkas. There’s also a notable desire to dress up a bit more now that more are returning to offices and social spots. That said, sustainability is a growing focus in an industry determined to offer planet-friendly pieces that people can feel good about buying and wearing.
Topcoats on top
A growing outerwear category in both department and specialty stores is topcoats, expected to be even bigger for fall-winter 22-23. (They were all over the Milan Men’s designer runways earlier this month.) According to Peerless president Dan Orwig, the classic topcoat is the best- selling model across all brands. Doing exceptionally well: a classic three-button version in a soft, made-in-Italy, cashmere-blend fabric. Also strong, a 34 inch peacoat lined with blackwatch plaid flannel. (In addition to navy and black, we love the peacoat in light grey and orange!) Some designer brands are showing a variety of sleek modern looks while others are showing more casual styles. Either way, most are focused on sustainability, going all out to eliminate waste by using various recycled materials. Says Orwig, “Young guys are wearing topcoats with their jeans and hoodies; it’s a whole new opportunity for retailers.”
Fred Derring at specialty store buying office DLS wholeheartedly agrees. “On the dressier side, the traditional topcoat is making a comeback in shorter lengths and luxury fabrics,” he says. The freshest looks (long and short) are in fancy tweeds, bold houndstooths and statement plaids – very cool! We suggest stores emphasize statement topcoats for fall as it’s an item that few men already own.”
Macy’s Fashion Director Durand Guion has recently witnessed this classic item gain traction. “The momentum in this category has grown over several seasons. It’s become a wardrobe staple as consumers are learning how to dress it up or down. It’s great that so many are willing to step out a bit in terms of pattern and color.”
Guion concludes that bold color, mixed media, longer lengths and interesting quilting have driven the store’s men’s outerwear sales in recent seasons. He expects that this trend to statement topcoats will continue into Fall 2022.
Why the renewed popularity of the topcoat now? As mentioned, it might just be a pendulum swing away from puffers and bombers but fashion editor and stylist Pasquale Suriano believes that it simply makes men feel good to wear one. “A statement coat has the power to have you stepping out— a notch above the rest,” he says. “Furthermore, a standout coat might just be the most important menswear item going into winter 2022.”
With this in mind, Montreal-based Cashmere Outfitters, owned by Rocky Zhou, is launching its newly revamped label Cardinal Canada 1938 for Fall 2022. With a focus on relaxed yet sophisticated outerwear, the collection offers a unique combination of heritage, luxury and modern.
Senior Accounts Manager Isabel Ferla Rodriguez explains the concept: “We’re focused on relaxed luxury. We’re using the finest fabrics, many technical, with a goal to mesh luxury and warmth. We’ve hired a young creative Canadian designer, Antoine Charlebois, with a fresh approach to luxury in order to broaden our appeal to young professionals. These coats can be worn with a three-piece suit or with jeans and a sweater. The retail price range is $595-$1295, offering tremendous value.”
Senior Director Elizabeth Pimentel continues: “We’re showing many updated classic models: full-length (36-38 inches) with notch or peak lapels and softer shoulders, primaloft linings (in both the body and the collars), Loro Piana storm system fabrics, sophisticated muted earth tones, some big bold patterns. All told – we’re offering soft, sophisticated statement coats, just what customers don’t yet own…”
Still, not all retailers and vendors are jumping aboard the topcoat train full-force. Jason Somerfeld, owner of Manhattan’s Letter J specialty menswear boutique, says:
“There’s definitely a shift towards dressier looks: still comfortable but more sophisticated. We’re not going after topcoats as much simply because we’re not a suiting store. But we will be putting a couple in.”
“Fashion-wise I believe trends will continue to cycle in and out, as they always do. Guys will always need a dressier coat but that could be a cool military peacoat or a military styled trench,” adds Jacky Clyman of the military-inspired outerwear brand Cockpit USA.
Other dressier picks for the season include car coats and peacoats.
“Consumers will continue to express their own sense of style with fashion-forward garments. There’s increasing interest in pieces with vibrant colors and bold prints but still clean. Men’s tailored car coats and hybrid knits include technical properties synonymous with the Nobis brand, ” notes Robin Yates, co-founder and VP of Nobis.
Style + sustainability
It has been a buzzword across all of fashion for the past several years, but sustainability continues to be a growing concern – especially in outerwear – for Fall 2022.
“The men’s outwear business sits at the of nexus of technical innovation, considered design, fashion trends, and sustainability – it is flourishing. However, like all elements of the retail apparel industry, the most significant challenge for manufacturers is sustainability,” notes Justin Warrren of Parajumpers’ US office.
Ira Rosh, Divisional Merchandise Manager for Outwear at Paragon Sports store in NYC, concurs. “An important story line is the move to ever more sustainable products, underpinned by improvement in the supply chain or the products themselves,” he says. “Patagonia is always leading the charge on this front or another example would be the French brand, Picture Organic, which has several jackets made from sugar cane.”
Another brand offering eco-friendly coats for Fall 2022 is Geox. Its outerwear features recycled fabrics and linings, and Ecologic warm padding. This special padding is GRS-certified and derived from recycled materials.
In fact, Italian outwear brand Save The Duck – which does not use real goose down – believes that sustainability is the number one issue for the sector and industry at the moment. “Overall awareness and commitment to global sustainability and, especially, the impact our industry has on the world’s carbon footprint is the biggest challenge,” founder and CEO Nicolas Bargi tells MR.” The fashion industry amounts to some of the largest contributing industries when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, something we at Save the Duck are challenged to change every; we are tasked with not only educating the consumer but to also change an industry that has for so long been a lead contributor. We are working to reprogram the buying mindset and the industry as a whole, resisting the urge to purchase for the lure of fashion and instead of being mindful and committing to circularity in fashion.”
“Since our inception 15 years ago, Nobis corporate practices have exceeded industry standards on sustainability, compliance and ethical sourcing. With the Nobis business model, our commitment to the planet is considered with everything we do as a company,” adds Yates from Nobis.
As Save The Duck’s Bargi summarizes: “More people are shopping sustainably, more people are asking about where their clothes came from, and more people are choosing to shop brands that are environmentally, ethically and sustainably focused.”
And for a sector that creates clothing that is not meant to be worn inside, saving the planet and “the great outdoors” couldn’t be a more appropriate topic.