They’ve Got Male

A clutch of women’s brands on both sides of the At­lantic are div­ing into men’s wear, cap­i­tal­iz­ing on a vi­brant – and less crowded – cor­ner of fash­ion. Here, two looks from Ce­line by Hedi Sli­mane, one of the most an­tic­i­pated in­tro­duc­tions of the sea­son.


Among the plethora of trends un­veiled on the spring 2019 women’s run­ways, one of the most un­miss­able and per­sis­tent was men’s wear.

Head­lined by Ce­line — where Hedi Sli­mane in­tro­duced the French brand’s first full men’s of­fer­ing since it was founded in 1945 — the sea­son saw a host of de­sign­ers make a sim­i­lar splash, with The Row, Jac­que­mus, Tibi, Pra­bal Gu­rung and Monse also div­ing head­first into a vi­brant — and less crowded — seg­ment of the mar­ket.

Ear­lier this year, Euromon­i­tor re­ported that the over­all global ap­parel and footwear mar­ket rose 4 per­cent to $1.7 tril­lion in 2017 with men’s wear up 3.7 per­cent to $419 bil­lion, and women’s wear up 3.3 per­cent to $643 bil­lion.

Re­tail­ers are cheer­ing — and writ­ing or­ders. Bruce Pask, men’s fash­ion di­rec­tor for Bergdorf Good­man and Neiman Mar­cus, was es­pe­cially en­am­ored with

The Row’s men’s wear and be­lieves it’s a strong, sal­able op­tion for to­day’s guy.

De­sign­ing twins Ash­ley and Mary-Kate Olsen, who es­tab­lished their brand in 2006, “have dis­tilled their aes­thetic into a small se­lec­tion of styles: min­i­mal, clean solid suit­ing and one in­cred­i­bly luxe cin­e­matic dou­ble-breasted coat style along with some luxe rich knitwear and sim­ple wo­ven shirts,” Pask said. “I thought their take was smart, at­tend­ing to a de­sign­minded man who wants to look pol­ished, sleek, and modern, not overly sar­to­rial.”

Pask be­lieves the cus­tomer who will be at­tracted to this line is “the kind of fash­ion­able guy who may have worn Hel­mut Lang suit­ing in the day, ap­pre­ci­at­ing the pol­ish of a suit but want­ing a modern de­sign point of view. It feels lux­u­ri­ous and rich and unique in the mar­ket.”

Tom Kal­en­de­rian, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of men’s wear for Bar­neys New York, is also ea­ger to test out some en­tries into men’s. “We are al­ways ea­ger to find the new and un­ex­pected,” he said. “Re­cently we have been dis­cov­er­ing great de­signs for men com­ing from de­sign­ers tra­di­tion­ally known for their women’s col­lec­tions.”

Kal­en­de­rian said the store has “picked up ex­cit­ing new in­tro­duc­tions for men from Sies Mar­jan, Is­abel Marant and

The Row. We picked up Pra­bal Gu­rung ex­clu­sively. We were ex­cited by the way he ex­pressed his love of pat­tern and color from his women’s col­lec­tion in a strong way for men. Also, we picked up the first men’s col­lec­tion by Jac­que­mus. He cre­ated the per­fect sum­mer wardrobe that ev­ery guy would love to live in all sea­son.”

Out­side of ap­parel, Kal­en­de­rian has added men’s jew­elry from women’s de­sign­ers Sid­ney Gar­ber, Spinelli Kil­collin, Hoors­en­buhs, Dean Har­ris, Loren Ste­wart and Feath­ered Soul. “We just sought out some new women’s de­sign­ers to de­sign for men: Mar­tine Ali for her unique take on ‘heavy me­tal’ and Amedeo Scog­namiglio’s amaz­ing cameo carv­ings for men’s bracelets and rings. We have been de­vel­op­ing the men’s bag busi­ness with To­masini, Fon­tana and Del­vaux; all very fine leather goods man­u­fac­tur­ers well-known for their ex­quis­ite women’s hand­bags.”

Roopal Pa­tel, fash­ion di­rec­tor of Saks Fifth Av­enue, said she wasn’t sur­prised to see women’s de­sign­ers tak­ing the plunge into men’s “with ev­ery­thing hap­pen­ing in our cul­ture to­day, there’s a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion to more syn­ergy on the run­ways with men’s and women’s.”

She pointed to Tibi and Mai­son Margiela as lines that are “gen­der-fluid” and rep­re­sent best this trend. She said Saks car­ries Tibi, Ce­line and The Row in women’s wear and is in talks to add men’s, too.

For Damien Paul, head of men’s wear at Match­es­fash­, fe­male women’s wear de­sign­ers who en­ter men’s wear of­ten de­sign with a cer­tain man in mind. “Stella McCart­ney has been open in how she has ref­er­enced her dad’s wardrobe when she was a child. I think women are per­haps less con­cep­tual — they just want to make great clothes that men would want to wear,” he said.

When asked whether the male cus­tomer could be put off by the idea of wear­ing a la­bel that is bet­ter known as a women’s brand, he replied: “I think men buy into ‘prod­uct’ and are look­ing for great de­sign. I’ve never felt any of our male cus­tomers would be swayed by the gen­der of the de­signer.”

From the de­sign­ers’ per­spec­tives, get­ting into men’s wear al­lows them to flex their creative mus­cle — and add some vol­ume to their bot­tom lines.

Gu­rung said he’s al­ways wanted to launch men’s wear “and now just felt like the right time. We are liv­ing in a day and age where tra­di­tional roles, gen­ders and iden­ti­fiers are shift­ing, and we see more and more men look­ing for unique and creative ways to ex­press them­selves. We are also such ad­vo­cates for di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion, so we wanted to ex­tend our brand of­fer­ing to be able to in­clude men.”

To be sure, Gu­rung spied an open­ing. “I see so much el­e­gant and sharp tai­lor­ing in the cat­e­gory, and I also see streetwear. How­ever, I do feel like a rich blend of th­ese two worlds is miss­ing from the men’s wear mar­ket, and that’s what we’re bring­ing to the ta­ble. Our col­lec­tion honors the Sav­ile Row style tai­lor­ing, but in­tro­duces bright colors, bold prints and some new sil­hou­ettes in­spired by Nepal,” he said, high­light­ing such looks as a rose-col­ored suit, en­gi­neered rib-knit tanks and boldly printed jack­ets and tops.

The Row had only dab­bled in men’s wear in the past, and its full col­lec­tion launches at re­tail this month, of­fer­ing a sim­i­lar aes­thetic to its suc­cess­ful women’s col­lec­tion and cen­tered on tai­lor­ing — a clas­sic suit with de­tails in­tended to be rem­i­nis­cent of New York in the Eight­ies and Nineties. Key styles in­clude a sin­gle-breasted jacket with­out back vents and trousers with a long rise and a straight leg. The col­lec­tion also spans coats, jack­ets, shirts, knitwear, denim and T-shirts. The tai­lored pieces are made in Ja­pan, shirts in France, knitwear in Italy and denim and T-shirts in the U.S.

“We did one men’s wear cap­sule col­lec­tion many years ago, and in 2016 launched a re­tail men’s wear cap­sule.

It was im­per­a­tive that we re­ceived our cus­tomers’ feed­back and to ap­proach this col­lec­tion thought­fully at our pace,” said Ash­ley Olsen.

“The Row’s women’s wear be­gan with­out do­ing any press dur­ing its con­cep­tion, sold with se­lect whole­sale part­ners. It’s im­por­tant for us to do the re­search. We

want to be able to of­fer the men’s wear mar­ket those same core foun­da­tion pieces at a lux­ury level,” added Mary-Kate Olsen.

The col­lec­tion is be­ing sold at The Row stores as well as at other high-end re­tail­ers in­clud­ing Bergdorf Good­man, Mon­taigne Mar­ket, Joyce, Holt Ren­frew, Dover Street Mar­ket, Bar­neys New York and Mr Porter.

While Sies Mar­jan be­gan as a women’s wear line, its creative di­rec­tor, Sander

Lak, is a trained men’s wear de­signer who stud­ied at Cen­tral Saint Martens. He started to cre­ate the women’s pieces in his own size and wore them around the ate­lier, which even­tu­ally led to buy­ers, friends and cus­tomers sug­gest­ing he should present a men’s wear col­lec­tion. For the spring 2018 show, Lak pre­sented his first men’s looks along­side the women’s looks.

“It was im­me­di­ately in­tu­itive to show the two col­lec­tions to­gether,” said Sies Mar­jan’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Joey Lau­renti. “The brand has a strong el­e­ment of uni­sex dress­ing so it makes sense that the col­lec­tions mesh co­he­sively in all ways to cre­ate the world of Sies Mar­jan.”

Lau­renti said the men’s col­lec­tion, which is sold at re­tail­ers in­clud­ing Matches, Mr Porter and Bar­neys, ap­peals to a man who is “look­ing for an al­ter­na­tive to the streetwear­in­flu­enced trends and is some­one who likes to get dressed, while em­brac­ing un­ex­pected el­e­ments of fash­ion and color.”

An­other en­try into the men’s fray dur­ing New York Fash­ion Week was con­tem­po­rary women’s brand Tibi. The col­lec­tion, cre­ated by Amy Smilovic in 2010, has a clean, re­laxed and modern fem­i­nine aes­thetic. “We de­cided to do men’s be­cause we saw there’s an in­ter­est in men look­ing at more fem­i­nine styles,” Smilovic said.

So she hired a cou­ple of male mod­els and dressed them in some of the more an­drog­y­nous women’s pieces such as slouchy blaz­ers and light­weight coats, un­con­structed trousers and com­fort­able lay­er­ing tops.

“We have a lot of men wear­ing Tibi off the rack,” she said. “We’re in­spired by them and the way they look. And I wear a lot of men’s clothes my­self and as a con­sumer, it con­fuses me when there are sep­a­rate ar­eas for men’s wear and women wear in a store. It seems to be it should be more to­gether.”

Smilovic said she tried this ex­per­i­ment two years ago, “but it went un­no­ticed. But this one hit a nerve with a lot of peo­ple. Re­tail­ers that carry men’s and women’s are look­ing at the busi­ness in a more for­ward way.” And with the pop­u­lar­ity of e-com­merce sites, the lines be­tween the gen­ders is also blurred. “So it’s likely I’m in the gen­der­less busi­ness,” she said with a laugh.

Among other de­sign­ing women dab­bling in the gen­der­less mar­ket for spring is Yeohlee Teng. “A lot of what I do is rather gen­der-fluid, so I have men come in and buy the clothes for them­selves,” she said. “My in­ten­tion is to de­velop men’s fur­ther. I don’t re­ally think it’s that com­pli­cated be­cause my aes­thetic for women’s wear is very men’s wear.”

Norma Ka­mali is of a sim­i­lar mind. For spring, the de­signer es­chewed a show and pho­tographed the same looks on both a man and a woman. Th­ese in­cluded striped jump­suits, printed denim jack­ets, skinny knit pants, flo­ral track­suits and even her trade­mark para­chute skirts.

“This is not about gen­der. This is not a line for gay men, it’s not a line for straight men. It’s a line for men who want to be creative. It’s so ex­cit­ing as a woman to see guys hav­ing a great time and wear­ing clothes that are the same, shar­ing their wardrobe,” Ka­mali said. “Guys are des­per­ate to show their fem­i­nine side, they’re ready. I think my clothes lend to this be­cause they have that qual­ity.”

In Paris, brands in­clud­ing Stella McCart­ney and So­nia Rykiel fea­tured mod­els of both sexes on the cat­walk this past sea­son.

For his de­but at Ce­line, Hedi Sli­mane pre­sented 48 looks each for men and women. Looks for the guys in­cluded shrunken leather jack­ets and skinny

New Wave suits, not un­like those on which Sli­mane sky­rock­eted to fame at

Dior Homme. But the men’s line is be­ing po­si­tioned as uni­sex, there­fore also avail­able for women.

Ten years af­ter clos­ing down its men’s wear line, So­nia Rykiel in­tro­duced a hand­ful of men’s sil­hou­ettes at the house’s spring show, held on the freshly inau­gu­rated Al­lée So­nia Rykiel, worn by both adult and teenage mod­els.

“Friends keep ask­ing me for men’s sweaters, like we used to do,” de Li­bran told WWD. “For me the mai­son Rykiel has a gen­er­ous spirit, and our sil­hou­ettes are of­ten in­spired by men’s wear. I love this ver­sa­til­ity, so why not de­sign pieces for men?”

The de­signer had al­ready in­tro­duced “brother and sis­ter” looks on the fall 2015 cat­walk, which were branded as uni­sex. The spring pieces pre­sented on five adult male mod­els are also part of the brand’s uni­sex range, sig­naled in stores with a black tag.

Si­mon Porte Jac­que­mus in June in­vited the fash­ion pack to Mar­seille for the launch of his men’s wear line, pre­sent­ing his col­lec­tion on bare­foot mod­els on a se­cluded sandy beach in one of the lo­cal Calan­ques, the rocky in­lets around Mar­seille and nearby Cas­sis in the South of France.

For the de­signer, whose eight-year-old women’s line has be­come syn­ony­mous with sul­try beach style, the choice of lo­ca­tion was im­por­tant for re­in­forc­ing the brand im­age. “I’m from the South of France; this is my aes­thetic,” he said.

His men’s col­lec­tion in­cluded re­laxed sum­mer pants, shirts in sun­flower and wheat prints and knitwear with a bit of an Eight­ies feel, from su­perfine striped po­los to slouchy, color-blocked, chunky sweaters. The vibe was re­laxed-preppy Mediter­ranean.

“He can be the kind of guy you see jump­ing from the rocks in Mar­seille, or the guy who goes to a wed­ding in his per­fect white shirt, a bit chic but Mar­seille-chic, with too much jew­elry,” Jac­que­mus told WWD. “In Mar­seille, you have those guys in the match­ing yel­low pants, hats, wal­lets — al­most too per­fect and flashy. And then those kids who are wear­ing to­tal-look La­coste. I’m try­ing to ex­plore that in a po­etic way.”

Jac­que­mus said the idea was to cre­ate a dis­tinct uni­verse for his men’s line, which he de­scribed as be­ing more straight to the point. “I’m not try­ing to re­peat the rules for men’s. We buy dif­fer­ently, I feel. There is the same mar­ket for streetwear, but for the rest, it’s not the same mar­ket. We don’t have the same bod­ies,” he said.



FROM LEFT: Tibi’s coat, shirt and shorts.; Tibi’s blazer, shirt and pants.

FROM LEFT: Ce­line’s jacket, shirt and pants.; Ce­line’sjacket and pants.

FROM LEFT: Jac­que­mus’ jacket, white boxer shorts and pants.; Jac­que­mus’ sweater.

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