Oscar de la Renta too. Whaaaaat?
It should come as no surprise, now that I reflect. Menswear is growing exponentially, especially at the higher end. Brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Prada have stores devoted to men only, as do multi-brand specialty stores like Saks and Barneys.
The real news here is that these designers are and have been for years, firmly planted in womens ready-to-wear, accessories, and to a lesser extent, footwear and other accessories.
Stella McCartney began as the creative director of Chloe, before launching her own line (first, she was Paul McCartney’s daughter). Her niche is in animal-friendliness, building a successful brand without the use of any leathers or dead animal products. No fur. Almost everything is made in Italy, and her curb-chain “falabella” motif has become synonymous with “Stella.”
Bringing the timely issue of environmental consciousness, as well as providing animal-leather alternatives, is perfect for the mens realm, which is less mature than the womenswear market, relies on leather maybe even more than womenswear, and is ripe for a “vegan option.”
As of this week, Stella menswear is “unconfirmed.”
The Row presents a different value to the male consumer. Guided by its founders and creative directors (and sisters) Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, the line is known for the softest, most lustrous, most durable fabrics, in melodic shapes and organic cuts, with a limited range of colors and purposefully underemphasized logo. For the woman in The Row, it’s about comfort in quality, not “suffering for style.”
In one breath I could argue that already-conservative menswear doesn’t need another expensive, stealthy luxury brand. In the next, there always seems to be a new angle from which designers explore the world of the masculine outfit, and watching the Olsens interpret a man’s body could be supremely fascinating.
At this moment, it is The Row which expresses modern American luxury most clearly, especially since most of it’s products are made in domestic workshops, a rarity today.
Another American brand, with a longer history—Oscar de la Renta—may also dip its pens in the ink of mens clothing. Of the three, this could be the most drastic extension. The brand isn’t just in the thin air of luxury, but it makes its business in occasional wear, i.e. wedding and formal dresses, cocktail attire, and evening accessories and shoes. Not exactly the booming portion of menswear…
Still, men are spending more, more often, than they did before and in some cases, more than women overall (though less in terms of volume). Details goes on to say…
“By 2017, overall menswear sales are expected to reach $110.3 billion, according to the study, which would mean a growth rate of about 8.3 percent. The women’s market, massive as it is already, is only projected to grow by 4.2 percent.”
I prefer the idea of established designers reaching into new categories more than I like the idea of more labels. Fashion and luxury are drowning in startup brands, disruptors, and celebrity-backed lines that frankly lack innovation, creativity, and originality. In contrast, brands like The Row and Stella McCartney offer compelling, considered aesthetics already to women…maybe men soon! Can’t wait.