A Behind the Scenes Look at How Leading Men’s Fashion Retailers Bought For SS19
Men’s fashion has never been quite so diverse. For the spring/summer ‘19 season that’s meant everything from head-turning neon streetwear to decidedly more sartorial styles, sometimes all within the same collection. But how does such an eclectic mix of aesthetics come to line the rails of our go-to fashion destinations?
To find out, we tapped the senior buyers of three leading luxury and contemporary stores to better understand their buying habits for SS19. We delved behind the meticulously merchandised shopfront and e-commerce veneer to discover exactly what makes a collection stand out, and eventually find its way onto the hanger (and in your shopping cart). See it as a farm-to-table rundown, but for men’s fashion…
Who are some of the new designers you’re most excited about stocking for SS19?
“We’ve introduced a number of incredible contemporary brands to MR PORTER for the SS19 season, including AMBUSH, Human Made, Needles, and Billy. We’ll also be launching an exciting new brand in May – it’s still under wraps at the moment, but I can tell you that MR PORTER will be the first global stockist…”
Did any one collection particularly speak to you this season?
“The ready-to-wear collection from AMBUSH was a great addition to our contemporary portfolio as was Yoon Ah’s jewelry line. There remains a huge gap in the market for cool jewelry, but Yoon’s designs are spot on. I’m also looking forward to increasing our Aimé Leon Dore offering for the Spring/Summer ’19 season.”
How did your buying habits change this season?
“We are adapting a lot quicker to changing trends as our customers are always in discovery mode and want pieces that are new to market – something that their friends aren’t wearing yet. We’ve also taken a few risks with product and bought on younger brands with great creative vision, which has really paid off. Contemporary brands move at such a fast pace, so it’s really important to identify up and coming talent sooner rather than later.”
What’s your must-have piece currently available at MR PORTER?
“There are a lot of must-haves from Sacai this season, especially within the Dr. Woo and Pendleton collaborations. My favorite pieces include the embroidered shell and grosgrain-trimmed denim shirt and the printed woven shorts. I’m also a huge fan of Undercover’s latest collection, especially the printed leather biker trousers and check wool trousers.”
Which trends are you most excited about for Summer?
“Women’s-style bags – the Celine bag Frank Ocean wore to the Louis Vuitton show in Paris was too good! I already have my eye on at least three styles, including a soon-to-be-launched buckle leather logo bag from 1017 ALYX 9SM.”
Which brands are new to Browns this season?
“It’s hard to choose just one. When I saw Portvel in Tokyo last year I just had to buy it. This workwear-inspired collection in an array of technical fabrics really took me by surprise. Then there’s Casablanca, a new brand from French-Moroccan designer Charaf Tajer, who previously worked at Pigalle. He’s collaborated with the likes of Virgil Abloh and is definitely one to watch – the brand represents the cross between comfort and elegance.
“Lastly, Paria Farzaneh. This is a designer I have had my eye on for a while and one that I feel has the potential to get really big. I love the way she incorporates elements from her Iranian heritage with contemporary menswear.”
Are there any new trends that particularly shook things up for you?
“Buying habits tend to stay the same, but trends adopted each season definitely lead to changes in the buy. Notably, for spring/summer ’19 and fall/winter ’19, we bought into more tailoring as this is a trend we have seen presented by more and more brands. Despite this shift though, streetwear is still king with a large proportion of our buy in recent seasons going on track pants, tees, and sweatshirts.”
What’s your outright favorite SS19 piece?
“The logo trench coat by 1017 ALYX 9SM is a killer piece and comes at a great price. I bought one last week and absolutely love it.”
What are you looking forward to rocking for the remainder of 2019?
“Two trends that we saw a lot of and that I can personally get behind this season are fluoro and tie-dye; things I am already wearing. There is also a lot of utility/workwear about right now, which is something I feel for greatly, and though aesthetically it’s not something I naturally gravitate towards, I really like a lot of the updated tailoring.”
Which new designers have you introduced to MACHINE-A for SS19?
“What I love about the selection of our designers is that each one has a very different aesthetic but somehow they all work very well together. It is also very interesting to me how they ‘marry’ their own cultures with something modern and current, celebrating their origins and becoming champions of a young generation of designers who are unafraid to experiment with the ideas that shaped them while they were growing up.”
How have bigger names in fashion been included in the mix?
“Raf Simons‘ SS19 is one of the best he’s done in recent years. When it was shown, it stood out immediately from anything else during Fashion Week. Raf is an extremely smart designer who has created trends that so many would follow later. This season was the same again.
“Together with Mr John Galliano for Maison Margiela, who is at the front of the “Couture for Men” trend, these two are leading the way at Machine-A. Fabrics like satin, silk, and taffeta were used for Margiela’s men’s coats, making a collection that’s super unisex and ultra-modern.”
What’s changed about the buying process since you started out?
“About four seasons ago we started investing a lot in tailoring and couture for men. We’re also exploring more and more brands and designers coming from Asia. Since the start, we’ve always bought in a very unisex way, and this is something that remains at the core of our buying process. For SS19 in particular, we’re adding quite a lot of earth tones to our buying – something that we didn’t do as much before. I think they will be the ‘new’ purples and lilacs of previous seasons.”
Any must-haves for SS19?
“1017 ALYX 9SM ‘Bowie’ snakeskin boots, Raf Simons’ satin coats with all over balls, Y/Project’s layered bowling shirt, Martine Rose’s jacquard polo top and my ultimate favorite – the Maison Margiela boiler suit.”
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