by Karen Alberg Grossman

Am I the only one who needs a fourth day to cover this ever-expanding menswear show? With each season, the Chicago Collective gets bigger and better, more upscale and exciting, attracting a growing global audience of top brands and buyers. As always, the Italians knocked it out of the park with 62+ booths of fabulous fashion and a very cool party (cocktails and dinner at the amazing Adler Planetarium). The British too had a great showing, with fabulous knitwear, exclusive suitings, and their slightly irreverent point of view. Buyers who’d vowed to purchase cautiously for fall ’23 (based on some tenuous economic forecasts and declining consumer confidence reports) were unable to stick to the gameplan, so irresistible were fall fashion offerings. We say: throw caution to the wind! If it’s fabulous, customers will spend; if it’s boring, they won’t. Clearly, this is not the season to play it safe.

Light Luxury Layers Take Center Stage

Buzzwords for fall 23: lightweight, layered, luxury, topcoats, neutrals, shades of green, accents of pink/rose, exceptional knitwear, simple sophisticated separates, corduroy, velvet, volume, accessories (belts, bags, hats, scarves, gender-neutral jewelry, neckwear!), soft touch fabrics, sartorial flair, sustainability, reversible sweaters, hand-crafted, personalized items, custom clothing and a sprinkling of DB suits and sportscoats…

What follows: a short list of notable findings (more to come) from the show floor. No need to buy it all: give your selling floor a focused point of view, rather than a little of everything. And don’t be afraid to (gently) lead your customers out of their comfort zones. They will thank you.


Still the dominant player in tailored clothing, the numerous fall ’23 collections from Peerless were right on target. (Even the in-stock basics are elevated and special.) We especially loved the sophisticated style at TailoRed, the show-stopping formalwear from Tallia, the modern classicism of Hart Schaffner Marx, and the intrinsic value (and margin potential) in all the Peerless labels. Peerless president Dan Orwig suggests a core to fashion ratio of 65/35.


According to Marc Spero, the focus at Lubiam is elevated fabrics in more casual models. Think upscale jerseys, wool/cotton blends, merino with stretch, in models with a great shoulder so they’re clearly not sportswear. “Stores are taking a leap of faith when it comes to pattern and color,” Spiro tell us. In photo: Lorenzo Lentini, Andrea Benedini, Mario Alberghini, Marc Spero.


Under the design direction of the very talented Aliya Moorehead, Samuelsohn has launched an adjunct to their regular collection called Iconics—12 stunning items representing the fusion of heritage and modern, commemorating Samuelsohn’s 100-year anniversary. Their regular fall ’23 collection looks exceptional as well.


Making custom easy, Kirk Keel demonstrates the secret to a perfect fit. Starting out six years ago with shirts, then pants, Stantt first launched a suit/sportcoat component about six months ago, already in 50+ doors with dozens more commitments at the show. Hint: the secret to a perfect fit (delivered in 2 to 2.5 weeks!) involves three sets of zippers to determine the drop. Thanks to our model Andy Mallor.

34 Heritage

We all know about their fabulous five pockets with stretch, the jeans customers buy in multiples even at $200 bucks a pop. This season, the 34H pants business has evolved into a total collection, with soft touch Tencel shirts ($65-$68 cost), fine-gauge knits, recycled cashmere 34 sweaters ($162 cost for a suggest retail of $325), and shirts in a fabulous fine wale corduroy. Also hot for fall: a cotton/Tencel drawstring pant at $86 for $210 retail. In photo with Richard Binder, 34 Heritage fan Neenu Choolani from Peter Renney’s in Portland Maine.

Georg Roth

In addition to a great collection of no-shrink pima cottons, these leather jackets are truly special. Here, the designer shows off a jacket designed for a recent Concours de’Elegance in Vegas; jackets sold out at the Wynn Hotel.

Lenor Romano

Lenor Romano showed what could be her best collection ever, edited down to simple perfection. I loved the space-dye yarns and reversible jerseys; especially loved a perfect soft and snuggly cardigan at $125 cost for a suggested retail of $295.

Trumbull Rhodes

And speaking of perfect cardigans, Richard Bragdon showed a fabulous sweater jacket at $110 wholesale that’s been retailing anywhere between $250 and $400. Take the margin where you can get it!


According to Tom Garner, embossed calfskins in a broad array of colors (including a perfect denim blue) were hot sellers at the show, in both belts and card cases. Get ready for some serious impulse buying!


Co-founder Antonella Arpaia shows how Italian style can be both contemporary and timeless. Love the lambsuede jacket with knit sleeves, the luxurious wool/cashmere knits, and a fabulous 100% cashmere outerwear piece with fur collar.

To be continued…

Read part 2 of Karen’s Chicago show coverage here, and Part 3, here