by Karen Alberg Grossman
Project Las Vegas Tents
Project Show – The Tents

We spoke to some of the menswear industry’s top buyers and executives to see what they were looking for to add to their assortments this Las Vegas market week.

Russ Patrick, Neiman Marcus We’re looking forward to another productive trip to Las Vegas. We will have the opportunity to visit one of our top stores in the company, while also spending time at several trade shows. This market is our final buying trip for the Spring ’17 season (that started in May…) so we are wrapping up our assortments while also focusing on denim and summer dressing. I’m looking for innovation in denim and also newness in novelty summer shirts. Our clients continue to demand newness and we are challenging ourselves to only buy what looks special and compelling.

John Braeger, GARYS Newport Beach I’m looking for new sportswear lines that are exciting, especially in sport shirts, knits and casual pants.

Caleb Lin, American Rag We always still do the Vegas tradeshows despite the fact that they are feeling later and later in the buying calendar for us. The reason is that no matter how long we’ve been around or how big we become it’s important to leave no stone unturned. We still walk all the shows in search of something new and fun because you’ll never know what you’re going to find. A number of the brands that you see today winning LVMH, CFDA awards, etc. — we were the first store to sell them and of course many of them first started hustling a crowded booth at the tradeshows. So the short answer to your question is that while we’re done with the bulk of our buying, we’re there to do our due diligence and find something special!

Dana Katz, Miltons I’m going to Vegas because it’s only 98 degrees in Boston and I want to experience 110 degree heat. Seriously, I’m looking for at-once opportunities for fall/holiday sweaters and outerwear. I’m also continuing to shop spring ’17 for items that are noticeably and apparently different in sportswear to inject some much needed freshness, particularly cool opening-pricepoint knitwear.

Tom Ott, Saks Fifth Avenue In Vegas, I plan to meet with many of our denim suppliers to see what’s new; to discuss the exciting projects we have coming up; and to connect with our vendor partners for conversations about strategy. Denim is a hot category and is ready for the next level of growth.

Mike Zack, Circa 2000 What am I looking for in Vegas? I don’t suppose I should say “dancing girls…” Actually, I’m looking for vendors to collaborate with, rather than compete with. I’m looking for ideas to make the vendor-retailer relationship a true partnership and for new ways to get and keep customers in the store.

Steve Shuck and Don Weir, STAG – Austin In Vegas, we’re always on the lookout for emerging brands that match our aesthetic and sensibility. In particular, we’re still rounding out our swim and short-sleeved shirt assortments for next spring and summer.

Dan Farrington, Mitchells Stores I’m not personally going to Vegas, but several of our team will be there. We’re looking to finalize the key volume items for the season – polos, shorts, casual pants, and other special items to finish spring ‘17. I was hopeful for more trend/direction this season, but it’s more about thoughtfully editing and planning ahead for what will be key programs buys.

Jey Perie, Kinfolk For us – Vegas is more about meeting bigger brands and corporations for eventual special projects. We also like to spend most of our time with our friends in media, vendors and business partners rather than buying. At this point in the season, we have our brands and buy figured out and budget is pretty much decided.

Tom Nystrom, Belk Stores The Belk team is going in force to Vegas this year, with our biggest contingency in quite some time. In terms of what I’m looking for, I’m not sure I have a firm answer on that front. My schedule is really jammed packed both days, seeing current suppliers plus some new ones who have reached out to me for an appointment. Generally, Bill Cowan (our Director of Private Brands for Men’s Dresswear plus Kids) and I will find inspiration as we walk between appointments, coming up with some new key items or Private Brand initiatives for the future. Also, I use this off market timing to come up with broader strategies for 18-24 months down the road. Finally, as the web continues to grow in importance, we’re always looking for new opportunities to drive sales (might be a slew of off price suits that we can add to the web or might be a new direct-to-consumer brand/vendor that makes sense).

Ken Giddon, Rothmans In Vegas, we plan to work on our shoe business, which is a real growth area for us. And look for new ideas for our “Harry” store and other “pop-up” ideas. We’re looking for vendors who understand that the business model is changing.