More risk-taking, more creativity, at retail and wholesale.
Like psychiatrists, hairdressers and priests, menswear merchants hear some interesting confessions from their customers. Jon Cline, co-owner of H. Herzfeld (a wonderful haberdashery on 57th Street here in NYC) shared a recent conversation he’d had with a gentleman who’d purchased a few shirts at the store. “He called to tell me that he’d taken his mother out to dinner and all she talked about all evening was how great he looked in this shirt. ‘In 45 years, my mother has never given me a compliment and now she can’t stop raving about my shirt,’ the guy related in amazement. He then told me that the following day, he and his wife were going through airport security and the officer doing the pat-down stopped to comment that never in his life had he felt so fine a shirting fabric. ‘The airport security guy… I couldn’t believe it!’”
In an era of technology changes so rapid they take your breath away, it’s refreshing to note that some things never change. Good clothes make a difference, great clothes make a huge difference and all men, even those reluctant to admit it, like to look good.
That said, it’s not easy out there for menswear merchants, even those at the top whose business has supposedly rebounded. In early December, the Goldman Sachs luxury sales indicator was showing the slowest growth since September 2009 and luxury merchants were being appropriately cautious (see roundtable feature). Between high unemployment, a volatile stock market, wholesale cost increases and a highly competitive (and promotional) retail environment, risk takers are few and far between.
But, as Paul Rosengard, menswear president of LF USA, recently predicted, “Men’s will continue to outperform women’s as it has for the past three years. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get enough credit for that…” And a point well taken from Bob Mitchell in our luxury roundtable: “At least 50 percent of our male customers are wearing outdated clothing: if the economy turns even a tiny bit, menswear stands to benefit. After all, the economy accounts for 75 percent of our increases; only 25 percent is based on how good we are as merchants.”
Also in this issue: PVH vice chair Ken Duane looks at the future of moderate brands, industry analyst Fred Rosenfeld examines JCPenney’s newly announced pricing strategy, our picks for the next generation of top designers (and yes, there’s plenty of new talent out there!), a close-up look at the Nanshan factory in China, analysis of menswear business by category, an interview with basketball great Darryl Dawkins on his work with Team Izod and a sneak peak at fall 2012 fashion, photographed on the bustling, beautiful streets of Manhattan.
To all our readers and friends in the menswear industry, we wish you a year of good health, good business and quality time with family and friends. May you keep creating, keep selling, keep giving back, and keep all your New Year’s resolutions, at least until Valentine’s Day! From all of us at MR, MRket and MRketplace.com, happy 2012! We look forward to seeing your creative new collections at the shows.