Ninety percent of runway shows are hard to take seriously. Front row in Milan, Paris, or New York? OK, I will be punctual and styled like my life depends on it.
I spectated the Art of Fashion Show at Neiman Marcus Tampa Bay two weeks ago, partly out of having nothing better to do on a Thursday night, and partly because inspiration for wardrobe improvement comes from everywhere, even silly cocktail parties at the mall.
As an independent clothing enthusiast, without help from paid stylists and sales associates, I was curious what NMTB would assemble to show its best clients. [Who, pleasantly, aren’t all old and white.]
Menswear comes from a place of very little change, season to season, year after year. As a segment, it evolves slowly; its seasonal trends are quieter and more subtle than those for women. Cut and color tweaks, along with materials choice (like adding leather trim) is how menswear gets updated. See: bootcut vs. tapered leg.
What we witnessed for men that night was all very white, light, and summery. For a moment I felt transported to the Naples or Palm Beach outposts of luxury leisurewear.
Pieces rounding the corner all seemed perfect for a wedding or dinner at the Ritz-Carlton. But they weren’t edgy.
In fact the edge was so dull, you could use it to spread butter. Great for vacation with grandma. Not for working and sweating in 80% humidity each day for six months, starting now.
The quarter of the show that addressed men correlated well with how our Neiman Marcus buys menswear. It covers the lux resort look, but thoroughly misses the mark on practical, everyday looks and brands that are most popular here and now, especially with the soon-to-be largest demographic group, millennials. Vince and Theory are about the only two carried in-store that I can stand.
Enough with Bogosse and Robert Graham wild prints!
Tampa is not a dressy city, but it is growing more polished, more discerning. At the other end of International Plaza, Nordstrom does a brisk business, because it sells the majority of its clothes at that sweet spot of upgraded staples, where James Perse, Hugo Boss, and Billy Reid hang. Sure we’d all like to afford Gucci ready-to-wear, but so few can and do.
After treading carefully with Salvatore Ferragamo as the most expensive brand in its men’s shoe department, our Nordstrom is planning to bring in Tod’s and Common Projects, two brands with wider demographic appeal than Prada and Gucci and more modest price points. Not to mention, are further down the evolutionary track of brand cool factor.
Maybe I’m not the target at Neiman Marcus. And that’s fine. There will be plenty of interested buyers for a while. In comparison to the fresh Saks Fifth Avenue in Sarasota, which is an all-new brand architecture and layout, and our Nordstrom, which recently underwent a facelift, you can’t help but feel like things are getting a little stale at Neiman’s.
A friend of mine even said that, as a stylist and brand rep, he won’t work with the store. They’re not as open to change or collaboration as Saks.[Which is funny because I wrote a post last August about the evolving identity of S5A. In the short time its new leader, Marigay McKee, has been on board, many positive changes have occurred, including the new Sarasota store, a new quarterly magalog, and a better mix of products (online anyway).]
As usual, I digress.
I appreciate the invitation to the event, as it induced a thought process and reaction. I just want a little modernism with the upscale beachwear, which passes as “Florida style” too easily.