Conversations Podcast E13: The State of the Menswear Market

Ever since the Internet made it easier to know about new clothes and young brands months before any product gets delivered to stores, the fashion tradeshow has gained a new prominence, offering consumers a sneak preview of each season’s upcoming offerings through an editorial perspective.

Way back as 1933, an organization called the Men’s Apparel Guild of California started a menswear tradeshow called MAGIC. During the peak of the so-called “urban brand” phase in the late ‘90s, the Las Vegas affair was known for its wild parties and extravagant booths, putting brands like Ecko Unlimited and FUBU on the global map.

Now, the scene in Vegas is a bit different. Tradeshows like LibertyCapsuleAgenda, and PROJECT offer a wide swath of styles for store buyers who have to cater to an increasingly discerning consumer.

Meanwhile, vertical brands with direct-to-consumer business models and intentionally limited distribution are subverting the old-school idea of getting into big-name stores to boost the success of a brand, preferring to remain relatively niche in order to stay relevant.

So what does that mean for the buyers with stores who want to balance savvy, covetable products with commercially viable merchandise that help keep a business afloat? What needs to happen to the tradeshow model to make it more easily cater to a faster-paced men’s fashion environment?

On part one, we speak with Omar Quiambao. He’s the founder of Commonwealth, a men’s boutique with locations in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Washington, DC, and most recently, the Philippines. We discuss how global fashion culture has affected regional style, and his approach to merchandising for the Filipino consumer.

On part two, we speak with Keith Abrams, one of the owners of Kinfolk, a combination men’s shop, lifestyle brand, and nightclub with locations in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Tokyo. He offers some insight on what young brands and independent retailers can still learn from the Vegas tradeshows.

Jian Deleon

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