Vegas wrap-up: karen shares her highlights from the shows

by Karen Alberg Grossman
Retailers continue to worry about the spring ‘17 selling season with so much uncertainty confronting them. That said, most remain ever-optimistic, and all kinds of merchants (from Johnelle at Garmany in Red Bank to Jim, Donny and Howard at Rodes in Louisville to Hallie Wright and Avinash Bhasker from Wal-Mart.com) showed up at MRket/Project with both open-to-buy and open-to-look. Most are convinced they need just three things this season: innovative designs, increased margin, and strong partnerships with key vendors. (Well, in-store traffic wouldn’t hurt!) Here, a few lines we saw in Vegas that provide all three.

Stenstroms
Anders from Stenstroms

From Stenstroms, an amazing in-stock program on their famous shirts, retailing from $225-$275. (I especially loved the water-color florals with pearl buttons and the garment-washed linens.) After only two years in the States, the line is already in 100 independent specialty stores. For spring ‘17, the company is branching into sportcoats ($495-$695 retail) and some beautiful knits ($265-$275) out of Italy.

Richard Choi, known for his salable lightweight sportcoats, ($150-$195 wholesale) has added some great shirts in Japanese stretch fabrics ($55-$78 cost).
BlujacketBlujacket
Also known for fabulous tailored clothing with great margins, Blujacket uses fine Italian fabrics and, in only its second season, is already in 70 great stores. Asked about some of the directional DB models featured on mannequins, Christian Brandonisio responded “We show it, it’s all over Europe, but few retailers are taking the risk.” (Editor’s note: No risk, no reward.)
Ever the risk taker, Ross Graison showed some cool sportcoats that work as well with jeans as with formalwear. Here is a tuxedo jacket that wholesales for $225 and retails anywhere from $695 to $995. Also shown here, a Ross Graison sportcoat in the window of Eltons Mandalay Bay.
In addition to their classic fits, Left Coast Tee is using laser technology to cut shirts that are shaped to the body. I loved the jazz player pattern printed on 70s two-ply cotton. They also showed some innovative printing on knits.

Raffi
Raffi

Retailers often refer to Raffi as “the money machine” with margins consistently in the 70-80 percent range. Guaranteed to make money for spring 17: the “aqua” collection. In its third year, offerings now include jackets, pants and vests, an entire athleisure wardrobe that looks right on target. Check out their strong linen story including sportcoats, pants and shorts.

Borgo and Ballin both looked great this season. Says Shayne Regan, “We brought our prices down 15 percent across the board to compete with the direct sourcing chains. Retails that were $155-$175 are now $125-$135.” Check out their linen shirts: $35 cost for short sleeves, $39 for long. Suit separates in a beautiful two-ply cotton (lined) were priced to sell at $295 ($82 cost) for the jacket, $175 ($58.50 cost) for the pant. At Ballin, the excitement was in very lightweight (six ounce) five-pocket pant models in several different fits, and in their great assortment of shorts.

Chelsey Imports
Chelsey

Scarves and accessories from Chelsey are the perfect way to add interest and impulse purchases to spring ‘17 selling floors.

A real find at Project, Anderson’s makes beautiful leathergoods in Parma, Italy. Carlo Valente (father of Ricardo, shown here with Joe Lafko), started out by crafting belts for many of the European couture designers. Today, the workshop employs 65 artisans who work eight hours a day, five days a week, “so we can’t grow too fast,” says Ricardo. Anderson’s belts and bags are sold in the world’s finest stores and are worn by rock stars, including Chris Martin from Coldplay (here, wearing Anderson’s stretch woven belt in shades of indigo.)

Peerless
Peerless

The undisputed king of tailored clothing, Ron Wurtzburger from Peerless likely has the best handle on future clothing business. “Slim is still in,” he maintains. “And now slim has reached the pant. If it’s not narrow at the bottom, the young guy is passing. Also “the new blue” expands to weaves and plaids and soon stripes. Yes, stripes will be back for next fall, as will pants that don’t reach the shoe (worn with bright solid socks) and fabrics in new autumn shades. (Have to go now to buy my new brown suit and yes, it’s a stripe!)”

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