Menswear Moving to the Front – Part 1

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Things are going full steam ahead on the menswear front, particularly when it comes to New York City, the capital of fashion retail. High end labels are making serious investments and seem quite bullish on the future of men’s fashion.

Locals style icons like Ralph Lauren are putting money on the table with major brick-and-mortar expansions – in his case, turning the landmark Rhinelander Mansion into a men’s only store and building a new flagship across the street to house his women’s and home collations.

Other marquee names are expanding their New York footprint as well.  In May, Canali opened its first Manhattan store just steps away from the New York Stock Exchange, and not far from Hermès’ 5,000-square-foot Wall Street outlet.  That store, which opened in 2007, has a pronounced emphasis on the luxury firm’s men’s line.  Canali is still in the early stages of executing an ambitious plan to develop a retail network across the United States.  The New York location is the fourth of five Canali outlets in the U.S., including two in California and one in Florida.  A Las Vegas outlet is scheduled to open later this year.

Giorgio Canali, president of Canali’s North American operations points to the financial district’s growing residential population – the store is housed in a former office building currently being converted into luxury condos – and its attraction to tourists as benefits of the location. “It was time to showcase the entire collection the way we want it,” Canali said, adding that the company continues to look at additional locations in the U.S. but has no definite plans. Other luxury brands, such as Tiffany and Thomas Pink, have also opened stores around Wall Street.  These companies are all keenly aware that , when it comes Gotham, many of their better customers work on Wall Street, so these outlets are certainly well placed.

Hermès is making a major bet on its male customers too and is planning to open its first men’s-only store on Madison Avenue this fall. The 6,000-square-foot outlet will be located directly across the street from the company’s existing flagship at 691 Madison. The store will carry the company’s entire assortment of men’s merchandise ranging from ready-to-wear and accessories to lifestyle products. It will also include an entire floor dedicated to custom and made-to-measure merchandise. The store will be the first of its kind in the world.

The Wall Street store, noted above, showcases men’s ties inside the main entrance rather than the women’s accessories and handbags that are generally up front in its other units. That store also offers separate made-to-measure suit and shirt department as well as leather goods, watches, clothing and sportswear.  Once the new men’s only branch is open in mid-town, Hermes will have a solid menswear presence in the city’s two key retail sectors.  The company will launch a men’s ad campaign this fall as well; the brand has a solid men’s business, with menswear accounting for about 45% of sales.
This trend is not only contained to the States; French luxury label Lanvin is expanding its footprint in the men’s department with a refreshed retail presence in London.  The new 1,600-square-foot Savile Row boutique will replace their former New Bond Street location.  The store will showcase the French brand’s runway collection, classic “15 Faubourg” line and made-to-measure, a cornerstone of Lanvin’s menswear business since the 1920s.

“Men’s is showing a great dynamic,” said Lanvin president Paul Deneve to DNR, also outlining plans to renovate its Paris flagship men’s location on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore.  The 6,500-square-foot men’s store will house a VIP room for its bespoke clients on the third floor.

With prices starting around $5,000 for a basic bespoke suit, I don’t think I’ll be stopping by anytime soon.


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Chris Hogan, an association executive based in Washington, D.C., blogs at OffTheCuffDC.com. A lifelong interest in style and clothing led to sales and management positions at several Ralph Lauren stores and an active wardrobe consulting practice