by Phillip Johnson
Everyone (and I do mean EVERYONE) will tell you (and have written) that the the New York Spring/Summer 2014 Fashion Shows weren’t much to write home about. For a lot of people, they blamed the Lincoln Center (which is not necessarily true although the vibe there in September was a LOT off the charts in a negative way); others blamed the uninspiring collections and having to travel all over the city (who wants to go to Pier 57 on the West Side Highway at 9 am in the morning or at 9 pm at night, I ask you?). However you view the shows in New York, the facts still remains that there were some very good collections (Ralph Rucci, Michael Kors), some very good debut collections (Desigual from Spain), some collections that totally missed the mark (let’s leave this space blank in th interest of protecting the guilty) and others that simply tread water until next season or when they find renewed inspiration, whichever comes first (Ditto). Most importantly, given that the fact that the mens collections generally play second fiddle to the women’s shows in New York, it was the men’s shows and the menswear designers who really showed real sparks of inspirations, which was then reflected in their generally well-received collections.
Again, the naysayers have, in their reviews, said that the menswear collections were “beyond boring” but seriously, we are talking about the U.S. menswear market, are we not? Get a grip. American men, unlike their European conterparts, are not natural preening peacoks. Therefore, in New York, if you want to really market your collection and stay in business, you have to market to men who are not looking to stand out as much as feel comfortable with what they are wearing. That’s the American menswear marketplace, no more, no less.
The following designers stood out because they paid attention to the marketplace while still honoring their own sense of design.
Iowa native Todd Snyder launched his eponymous menswear collection exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman, Ron Herman, and Neiman Marcus for Fall 2011. Inspired by Savile Row craftsmanship, military tailoring, and a distinct New York sensibility, the line has garnered wide critical and commercial praise in the US. In 2012, the line was picked up by Barneys New York and select Nordstrom stores; simultaneously, Snyder was nominated for the CFDA Swarovski Award for Menswear and named one of GQ’s Best New Menswear Designers. The collection has also developed a fervent following abroad, especially in Japan where Snyder is considered a pioneer in American tailoring by top retailers including Ginza’s Estnation. He spent two decades honing his skills in New York, designing outerwear for Polo Ralph Lauren, working as Director of Menswear for the Gap, and SVP of menswear at J. Crew, where he revamped men’s styling, introduced formalwear, and launched a series of collaborations with heritage brands like Timex, Red Wing, Thomas Mason, and Alden that culminated in the popular Liquor Store boutique, opened in 2008. Now at the helm of his own brand, Snyder still strives to deliver on the rubric set forth by his Badowers mentor: “A perfectly fitted suit makes the man.” His spring/summer collection was his best effort yet.
OVADIA & SONS
With their acknowledged unique take on American menswear (combining artisan workmanship with modern silhouettes), Brooklyn-based twin brothers Shimon and Ariel Ovadia, who have no formal design training, have managed to cultivate a niche following of devotees among men who care about getting dressed. It’s this combination of having their personalities embedded in the code of their designs, as well as their “Made in the USA” sensibility that has everyone talking. Thier collections was one of the highlights of the menswear collection season.