Eglise Armenienne

Menswear is Dead. What’s Next?

NEW YORK, United States — In January 2016, three-year-old menswear shop Carson Street Clothiers moved into a large storefront in downtown New York. The store, which sold brands like Orley, Craig Green and Visvim, had become a sort of gathering place for the city’s menswear community. Its new 3,300-square-foot space, on Greene Street in the middle of Soho, certainly matched the scale of the duo’s ambitions, with its chevron wood floors and cantilever shoe racks. In many ways, Carson Street was a temple to #menswear, a men’s fashion Internet meme that, in recent years, gave rise to the street style peacocks of Pitti Uomo, birthed full-fledged websites and books, and spurred the opening of new men’s-focused stores.

In early February, Carson Street owners Matt Breen and Brian Trunzo introduced their own collection — dubbed Deveaux — at New York Fashion Week: Men’s. The line, which was well received, was to be sold at Carson Street and elsewhere.

So it came as somewhat of a surprise when Trunzo sent out a mass email in late April announcing that he was leaving both Carson Street and Deveaux, effective immediately. In early May, Breen followed up with the news that while he planned to continue with Deveaux, Carson Street would close its doors at the end of June. Soho’s notoriously high rents may have played a role. But it was hard not to read the demise of Carson Street as yet another stake through the heart of the #menswear movement, coming after the late-2015 shuttering of Condé Nast’s Details magazine, whose editors, including Eugene Tong, were lauded as gods by menswear geeks; the January 2016 closure of Complex Media-owned Four Pins, whose editor Lawrence Schlossman served as the clique’s de facto leader; and the end of Japanese publication Free & Easy, a men’s style bible which had been fixated on ametora — Japan’s reinterpretation of “American trad” or heritage style — since 1998.

And yet the demise of #menswear comes at a time when the global menswear market is growing and the wider fashion industry sees menswear as a bright spot amid slowing growth and rising uncertainty. The global market for men’s designer apparel is projected to reach nearly $33 billion in 2020, up 14 percent from $29 billion in 2015, according to Euromonitor International. In comparison, the overall market for personal luxury goods will grow no more than 2 to 3 percent over the next four years, reaching €280 billion to €295 billion — or $318 billion to $335 billion at current exchange rates — in sales revenue in 2020, according to Bain & Company.

In the face of these numbers, it’s no surprise that brands like Coach, which will show its latest men’s collection in London on June 13th, and Kering-backed Stella McCartney, which is slated to launch a men’s collection in Spring 2017, are betting on menswear to help drive growth as the overall market for luxury goods softens. Major publishers, too, are targeting advertisers aiming to reach buyers of men’s fashion by upping their men’s content offering, exemplified by the recent launch of American quarterly GQ Style, the reinvention of American Esquire under new editor-in-chief Jay Fielden and the introduction of a dedicated monthly men’s style section to The New York Times in 2015.

But while #menswear may be dead, there’s little question that its rise helped to expand the broader menswear market by educating consumers and pushing the boundaries of men’s fashion. “The fact that there was this really influential community, throwing Molotov cocktails into what was, for so long, such a stiff discussion just felt necessary,” GQ Style editor Will Welch told BoF in a May 2016 interview. “When you see a guy who looks like trends exploded on him, you can’t help but mock him a little bit. But we all need that guy to pull the culture forward.”

While it’s long been typical for professional men to invest in a good suit, for many years, buying designer clothes outside of formal workwear was less accepted. That’s changed. During the downturn, the standard work uniform of khaki chinos and a button-down shirt — once limited to “casual Fridays” — receded and men began dressing up again, fuelled by a desire to be noticed — and respected — in a more competitive environment. The shift intersected with an emphasis on suiting in men’s high fashion, as well as the cultural influence of the dapper 1950s wardrobes donned by the characters on the period television drama Mad Men, which debuted in 2007. Suddenly, men were not only wearing suits, but pocket squares and waistcoats, too.

But as unemployment decreased and streetwear began to gain traction with leading designers, the men’s wardrobe shifted once again. And while many occupations still require men to wear suiting to work, it is no longer the only category in which guys are willing to spend. Shoes, in fact, are the fastest growing category in menswear, with men’s shorts and trousers coming in second, according to Euromonitor.

“There are jobs that still need a dress code, but there are more and more that don’t. That’s the seismic shift in menswear over the past few years,” says Toby Bateman, managing director at Mr. Porter. “But while the dress code has gone, guys have become much more aware about how to look good without simply putting on a uniform of a suit. They can still look smart wearing a blazer with smart jeans, or a deconstructed jacket with wool trousers and a white sneaker. That’s where Mr. Porter has flourished. That’s the kind of dressing we talk about a lot.” It’s telling that, while suiting from brands like Tom Ford continues to track well at the five-year-old e-commerce site — now part of the Yoox Net-a-Porter Group — Nike and Common Projects are among the top sellers in the footwear category.

Today’s men expect their wardrobes to be far more “nimble” than a traditional three-piece suit. “There’s a modern relaxation happening right now,” says Kevin Harter, vice president and men’s fashion director at Bloomingdale’s. “Exercise and travel are more important. Sneakers are doing well. Bomber jackets in every fabrication did really well this spring. The business that is struggling a little bit is dress shirts and ties. Guys are still wearing suits — but with a knit, more modern fits. There are more creative ways for doing it.”

This new attitude also helps to explain some of the creative leadership changes at Europe’s leading men’s labels, from the installation of former MyTheresa fashion director Justin O’Shea at Kering-owned Brioni to former Berluti designer Alessandro Sartori’s appointment at Zegna, where he has assumed the role of artistic director. While suiting remains the cornerstone of these brands, men now see a wider world of clothing and businesses are evolving their offering to meet shifting demand.

“The fact is that, on the top end of [of the market], older tailors are experiencing a pull back,” says Giovanni Mannucci, president and chief executive of Boglioli. The Italian house’s first creative director, former Gucci menswear designer Davide Marello, will present his second collection in June at Milan Fashion Week. “Creativity is an increasingly important component,” Mannucci adds. “It’s no longer enough that our customer just see a perfect jacket.”

Indeed, while the high-end of the men’s market has opened up, so has the high street. While Nike remains the top men’s fashion brand, according to a 2015 report by Euromonitor, H&M ranks #2 (up from #3 in 2005), Uniqlo ranks #5 (up from #9) and Zara ranks #6 (up from #13). “Fast fashion is the most important issue for us,” Mannucci says. “The key to success is keeping an edge on the mass market brands.”

The popularity of less traditional, more-flamboyant and sportswear-driven menswear brands like Givenchy, Saint Laurent and Gucci speak to the male desire to seek out pieces that are not only well-made, but special. “The success of Gucci reflects that men are becoming more experimental in their choices,” Bateman says.

Those market demands have also made room for advanced contemporary labels like Ami and Acne, which offer a designer point of view at a more reasonable price. “Contemporary is becoming so strong because the customer is switching on to the fact that he can pay half the price for a designer perspective,” he continues. “Mainline designers have got their work cut out for them.”

“What it comes down to ultimately is that men are feeling more comfortable buying clothes or paying more attention to their own image than they did 10 or 15 years ago,” says Jorge Martin, apparel and footwear project manager at Euromonitor.

Childrens Clothing – a New Trend in Modern Society

Modern society revolves around concepts such as beauty and originality, ideals that have been embraced and implemented by fashion designers worldwide. Undoubtedly, fashion has always been a powerful means of expression, as the way we dress reflects our cultural provenience, mentality, personality, and even our feelings. In addition, fashion has the great merit of combining practicality with aesthetics, and could be perceived as “a pragmatic form of art”. Being influenced by many different cultural and social factors and permanently adapting to the needs and requirements of a continuously developing society, fashion has suffered a lot of radical changes over the course of time. During its ongoing process of evolution, it has generated many different styles and trends, revealing traits characteristic to each distinctive generation.

Despite the fact that it has created many tendencies and has evolved continuously in conformity with the society’s ideals and needs, fashion has only recently begun to pay equal attention to all categories of age. Although they were generally neglected in the past by clothing manufacturers, children nowadays form an important segment of clients in the fashion industry, enjoying an extensive and varied range of clothing appropriate for their age. The children’s clothing industry has only recently begun to achieve a good exposure and popularity, gaining a lot of ground over the past few years.

As the children’s clothing industry was growing in popularity, more and more fashion designers decided to focus their work exclusively on designing clothes for young children and babies. Soon, the offer became more and more diversified, children’s clothes gaining a lot in aspect and originality. Supermarkets and clothing stores began to fill up with ingenious and colorful clothing articles for children, lots of shops even specializing in exclusively selling children’s clothes. In contrast to yesterday’s children’s clothes – poorly designed and, let’s face it, quite dull – today’s children’s clothes are ingenious and appealing, stimulating their imagination and building their sense of aesthetics and beauty. Ranging from little boys’ suits and little girls’ accessorized dresses to cartoon-character costumes and even superhero outfits, children’s clothes are nowadays created to adequately satisfy the needs and desires of the very young.

Visibly enjoying “the attention” granted to them by the fashion industry, lots of children nowadays spend more and more time looking for the most interesting and imaginative clothing items they can find. Mesmerized by so many clothing models, designs and colors, many children can hardly decide upon a single item in particular! As soon as they step inside children’s clothing stores, children are immersed in a colorful and magnificent world, similar to the world created by toy stores. Funnily, lots of today’s children equally enjoy paying visits to both children’s clothing stores and toy stores – fact that reveals the young generations’ interest towards clothes, and thus their inclination towards originality, aesthetics and sense of beauty.

Seen through the perspective of their prices in general, children’s clothes have lately become increasingly more affordable. While a few years ago parents had to spend a small fortune to offer their children good-quality articles of clothing, nowadays they can buy appropriate clothes for considerably smaller sums of money. Several major factors that have led to the reduction of children’s clothing prices are: substantial clothes imports, the appearance of many discount-shops on the market and the equal distribution of the merchandise between supermarkets and clothing stores.

Online stores have also had a great contribution to the depreciation of children’s clothing prices, offering customers high-quality yet cheaper clothing articles. Children’s clothing online stores have become very popular, as they provide customers with cost-effective alternatives to similar, shop-purchased products. Online stores offer clients the possibility to choose among hundreds of different clothing items such as boys’ suits, boys’ shirts and trousers, girls’ dresses, girls’ trousers, girls’ capes, unisex clothing items, as well as various accessories such as ties, bows, shoes and booties – all categorized according to size and age. Apart from having affordable prices and an extensive offer, children’s clothing online stores also allow customers to purchase their desired products online, thus helping them save time and effort.

Where the heck are women buying their clothes?

Women’s apparel retailer Ann Inc. announced last week that it plans to sell its always-on-sale stores, Ann Taylor and Loft—seriously, if you pay full price at these places, you’re doing it wrong—to Ascena Retail Group, which owns women’s clothing stores Lane Bryant and Dress Barn.

The $2.1 billion sale is the latest ripple in what’s been a choppy women’s apparel market. Ann Inc.’s sale comes a little over a year after the company announced a realignment of its organization, which led to the elimination of about 10% of its corporate workforce. Soon after, Golden Gate Capital, a firm known for rehabbing struggling retailers like Eddie Bauer and Zales, bought a 9.5% stake in the company, making it Ann Inc’s largest shareholder. The move prompted rumors that the private equity firm would buy the company.

Ann Inc.’s offerings haven’t resonated with its traditional customers. At the Loft, they were too neutral and not Bohemian enough, says Rebecca Duval, an analyst at Bluefin Research. At Ann Taylor, styles were too modern. “I think that when you have a company that’s in such a transition—when you have fewer designers, fewer merchants, fewer people doing more work—there’s no time to consider the assortment at all levels.” Ann Inc. has recorded declining same store sales in three of the past four quarters. The company declined to comment.

Ann Inc. is certainly not the only women’s clothing retailer that’s in a funk. Coldwater Creek filed for bankruptcy protection last year. In February, Chico’s announced it was closing 120 underperforming stores while opening 40, a decrease from its initial plans to open 60 to 70 new locations. Once the envy of the retail industry, J. Crew has struggled recently, with same-store sales falling 2% in 2014. Gap Inc.’s namesake brand is also in a rut; its comparable store sales fell 10% in the most recent quarter—the fifth consecutive quarterly decline.