Highlights from New York’s Spring/Summer 2020 Menswear Trade Shows
Trade show season has come and gone for New York and with it, so have the buyers, designers, and salespeople. We trekked through Manhattan in the July swelter, sweaty and sticky, to get a peek at what will be hitting stores this time next year and now that we’ve had some time to ponder over what we saw and pore through the images we took, we’re here to dish out the duds. From the traditional trade show floors at MAN and Liberty Fairs to a few of the small, independent showrooms, here’s your first look at what’s to come.
Viberg’s new season relies on Japanese and English leathers from Shinki and CF Stead, respectively. The color palette overall is lighter and earthy with natural tans, sandy beiges, and mossy greens. Their sneaker program also has gotten a few new styles including a more technical sneaker that features a bungee lacing system as well as panels of puncture-proof nylon. Fans of their slip-ons might also enjoy their new mule-style shoes.
As excited as we were to see what Japanese denim stalwarts Momotaro had in store, we weren’t able to see the full offering of their new season because a major chunk of their products were being held in customs. There were several rayon camp collar shirts which used indigo for their patterns, though.
In the last year, Corridor has seen major expansion opening not one, but two new physical retail stores in New York City. Their latest collection builds upon that expansion with a broader set of goods which now includes some lowkey sneakers which are made in Portugal. Embroidery, batik prints, knit polos, and a crazy cowboy-print shirt make their way into the collection as well as their tried-and-true indigo blue goods. A standout of the collection is their sari-inspired shirt which features dip-dyed indigo and a selvedge hem.
Oliver Spencer’s color palette has always been muted with little in the way of patterns and prints. As a result, the brand has built its interest by focusing on fabrics with unique weaves, knits, and textures. You’ll see it not only in their knit polos, sweaters, and beanies, but also in their woven shirts and trousers. Some technical-forward pieces are highlighted in the collection including a trench coat made from a nylon fabric woven into a mesmerizing weave similar to seersucker and crepe.
Original Madras Trading Company
Original Madras Trading Company made their first appearance at the trade shows this season despite having been in business for over 40 years. Weaving their traditional madras fabric in its namesake city, OMTC employs Indian artisans in their vertical factory to weave the storied fabric by hand using decades-old looms. Each weaver is only able to weave enough fabric for about one shirt per day, but the results are a fabric rife with character and signs of human care. Of course, madras shirts are on offer, but their range of production extends to outerwear and pants as well.
Merz B. Schwanen
Merz B. Schwanen recently expanded their production to facilities in Portugal and their offering is the most diverse it’s ever been. With a new range of production techniques, Merz is now able to offer pieces like French terry tees, polos, and bucket hats. Embroidery also makes an appearance in their “All Good” line of basics which aims to empower people with positive words. Their loopwheeled line of goods is still on offer and includes new versions of their tees in more relaxed fits as well as lightweight linen displaying gobs of texture. And, if your brand loyalty can now extend to the laundry with Merz B. Schwanen’s set of garment-specific detergents.
Setto Indigo Label
Formerly known as Soulive, Setto Indigo Label picks up where Soulive left off with an infusion of vintage bandanas, boro, paisley, and sashiko fabrics into Americana staples like Type II jackets, baseball shirts, and five-pocket jeans. And popping out amongst the mass of blue goods was their line of knit basics, which are all dyed using natural flower dyes.
11.11 has maintained such a quiet demeanor that makes it surprising to find out that they’ve been around for about a decade. Their collection champions the prowess of Indian craftsmanship with hand-loomed and hand-dyed textiles which are further elevated with mind-melting details like hand-painted prints, bandhani dyeing, and hand-stitched embroidery.
Oregon-based leather smiths Tanner Goods offered a modest, yet notable upgrade of their accessories this season with a set of bags and Dopp kits which employ a new Japanese cordura ripstop fabric which, despite its technical specs, feels surprisingly like cotton canvas. They’ve also introduced their first-ever all-leather tote bags. Other newness includes an elongated version of their popular Zip Wallet as well as a set of wallets rendered in a gradient of waxed natural veg-tanned leather that has an uncanny resemblance to shell cordovan, without the steep price tag.
The apparel antics of Japan-based brand Nine Lives persisted this season with their take on the Hawaiian shirt with artwork by Florian Bertmer which replaces Lady Liberty with a Hindu god and exchanges her tablet for claymore. Further antics appeared in tie-dyed mil-spec nylon MA-1 kimonos, Japanese real estate-type jackets, Hawaiian-inspired jacquard, Shinki leatherand more. The real showstopper this time around, however, is their moto jacket. Retailing at about $12,000, it’s a classic asymmetrical moto jacket style with gold hardware, slipped into a matte black body of python skin.
Naked & Famous
You can expect many a wacky warp and weft to come out of the Naked & Famous team which is exactly what we got. Jeans made from discarded denim strips woven into sakiori fabric, blue-core denim, rainbow weft denim, and jeans that use actual 24-karat gold-plated hardware, gold foil, and a gold selvedge ID. Two movie-themed capsules also make an appearance with Ghostbusters glow-in-the-dark denim as well as B-movie cult favorite, The Toxic Avenger, translated into a slubby denim with an alternating left-hand, right-hand, and broken twills, with a ‘toxic’ green weft.
Dickies 1922 still remains somewhat under-the-radar as far as heritage brands go. Though their garments take shape from archival designs and selvedge fabrics, it is perhaps the willingness to collaborate with fashion-forward brands like Opening Ceremony and Urban Outfitters which give the label its street edge. But that’s not to say that the collection is poor. Selvedge chambray shirting and versions of their classic Eisenhower jacket upgraded in selvedge denim are mixed among tasteful denim blazers and chore coats.
Iron Heart presented their collection, like a handful of brands, in their own independent showroom, away from the larger conventions of Man and Liberty Fairs. The intimate setting was merchandised amongst other like-minded brands such as Indigofera and Simmons Bilt. You can expect to see more versions of their corduroy trucker jackets, once just a one-off seasonal offering which will now be a part of their core collection going forward. There’s even an indigo-dyed version which has the interesting side bonus of an interior which looks a lot like a pindot wabash fabric. 50/50 cotton/poly Western Shirts, linen chambray Work Shirts, and spring-weight plaid flannel shirts and madras with indigo-dyed yarns also make their way into the season. Fans of their ever-popular 21oz. denim will also be pleased to hear that they’ve made a left-hand twill version. It’s a bit difficult to see it through the photos, but aside from the softer hand that the left-hand twill yields, the indigo appears to be a bit lighter compared to the original.
Every trade show season, I can consistently rely on seeing at least one, maybe two, brands that really blow me away. This time, it was Indi that would leave my jaw dropped. They originally focused on just children’s clothing, which was amazing to begin with, so I was excited to see Indi take the leap into adult clothing. With indigo and Indian-made craftsmanship at its core, Indi takes great pains to express the full potential of handcrafted clothing using weaving and dyeing techniques.
Front and center at their booth was a shirt that uses a special dyeing method not unlike shibori to achieve its signature striped and mottled effect. But before the dyeing takes place, the fabric, an incredibly smooth and tightly-woven broadcloth, is stitched throughout. The fabric is then dyed and the stitched threads are then removed. The result is a fabric with thousands of pin-sized holes amidst a landscape of indigo tones, effectively a tie-dyed mesh shirt without any synthetics involved. There are other unique pieces that reference vintage USN shirts as well as Indi’s version of a fun shirt, which is the most subtle fun shirt you’ve ever seen. But before I go on too long, I’ll just say that I look forward to delving into the brand much deeper in the near future.
Over-engineered minimalism may sound like an oxymoron, but the team at Craighill has solved their way out of that design problem. Their key clips and bracelets are where it starts, but looking at their Desk Knife, Jack Puzzle, and Invar Cube are where you get into real nerd territory (a good thing). This season, they’ve introduced a smaller version of their Desk Knife, bookends that reference caltrops, and a couple of new bracelets. The design of the bracelets was birthed from the idea of mirrored forms, so each piece of the bracelets is identical, joined together at a single hinge. On top of that, the grooves interlock and make a satisfying clicking sound that’s reminiscent of handcuffs. These are way easier to take off, though. They’ve also introduced a new tray which uses a lathe in a few offset configurations to achieve its divots, resulting in a tray that resembles sand dunes.
Blluemade, the flax champions that they are, return with their linen-heavy collection of elevated workwear-inspired pieces. You’ll see a lovely color palette that includes pale yellows, rusty reds and steel blues coexisting with muted shades of dark olive, light charcoal, and natural linen. Men looking for an excuse to rock their coveralls have it for SS20 because it now includes a fly for easy-access. Pants that take cues from vintage baseball trousers and double weave cotton gauze takes form in pullover henleys and crewnecks shirts.
MATiAS is not like other denim brands and they definitely want you to know it. Pushing wait they call “post-heritage”, MATiAS employs unconventional techniques you’re more likely to see in avant-garde high-fashion brands than the traditional denim space we occupy. Denim joggers sans outseams, clever tricks of sewing and pattern-making, and brow-raising finishing make the collection stand out among the surfeit of selvedge denim repro brands on the market making, essentially, just another five-pocket jean.
18 Waits began as many a fashion brand has—with t-shirts. Their signature skewed seam body is rendered in several knit top styles like henleys and 3/4 length tees this season. But, what I originally knew the brand for was their shirting. As is the case with all of their production, the shirting is made in Canada and features some really tight stitching with a dense stitch per inch count and default markers of quality like felled seams. The range for SS20 includes matching sets of shirts and bottoms in vacation prints accompanied by tailored suits.
Known for premium wholecut, Goodyear-welted sneakers, Feit boasted a lineup of goods that continues to expand with each passing season. This season, they’ve made some adjustments to their beloved Handsewn Low sneakers, namely in their outsole. Now, each pair will come equipped with a rubber Vibram sole for extended wear. They’ve also added a new sneaker to the range which takes cues from their Bio Trainer and features a lugged Vibram sole. Accessories include wool scarves, cotton baseball hats, and even a range of shirts.
Bleu de Chauffe
Out of their Southern France atelier, Bleu de Chauffe produces hardy canvas and leather bags using fabrics from the likes of British Millerain as well as vegetable-tanned leathers from France. New to their packing list is a lightweight nylon set of backpacks ideal for the outdoor enthusiast that needs as much weight off their shoulders as they can get. All-leather duffels and roll-top backpacks also make an appearance.