After our recent travels through Europe, it is evident that the more sophisticated menswear retailers have transformed their stores into theatre through creative merchandising and innovative displays. For most men, seeing is believing, and they are often attracted to displays and mannequins that are fully styled out. In many cases, they will buy the entire outfit as is, making it easy for the man who isn’t quite sure as to how he should be buying clothes or put himself together. Our goal is to wardrobe our customer from head to toe, help him solve his fashion needs, and have fun while doing it.
This can all be done with appealing color stories, interesting textural combinations, and well styled outfits. But it starts at the beginning when we as designers, merchants, and buyers decide what we will actually be showing our customers for the upcoming season, and then follow through on how we present it to them. That can often be the most challenging but most rewarding piece of the fashion puzzle.
Throughout my career, I’ve found that the best way to tell a style story and communicate with customers is through visual displays. They say that first impressions are lasting, and so it is when customers enter our stores for the first time and see how we present our collections. One picture may be worth ten thousand words, but when it comes to men’s fashion, if it’s not a good picture, they’ll never get past the first paragraph.” -JA
As we move through this era of the skinny suit, the logical progression in men’s fashion is to move in the opposite direction. While menswear never works well in the extreme, there is a definite movement toward easing up fits. This change is more gradual and gentle since “shape” remains important, but “tight” will soon be a thing of the past. In tailored clothing there is a relaxed and controlled fit giving a man more room and comfort in the chest, shoulders, and hip, while at the same time emphasizing shape at the waist.
Other benefits of this new, easier fit is the drape of beautiful fabric that traces the body and fluidly moves with you, which brings with it a studied ease to the attitude of a man’s outfit.
But this new direction isn’t just relegated to tailored clothing. Sportswear is also a little less restrictive with slightly more relaxed fits in soft jackets, sweaters, knits, wovens, and casual pants. The overall look is more comfortable, wearable, and ultimately the next big thing in menswear.
So, if we are loosening up, let’s do it gradually with logic, while also creating new, yet wearable fashion trends that men can live with. -JA
Euro Trad’ is one of the hottest new ideas coming out of Europe. Leading brands have recently transformed traditional menswear concepts so often associated with traditional American clothes, into richly textured and energized looks with global appeal.
Fabrics such as glen plaids, herringbones, and flannels are more aggressive and more exaggerated than their classic predecessors. These seasonal fabrics take the lead in creating an easy to understand, yet extremely fashionable direction for men.
This new Euro Trad’ idea permeates all other product categories as well. Tweed soft shoulder jackets with elbow patches, quilted vests, wool donegal ties, flannel shirts, and corduroy pants are paired together to bring a new heritage to the way men dress in perhaps one of the most fashion forward trends for the upcoming season.
Euro Trad’ has influenced how we define European fashion today. In the past, Europe gave us slick fabrics, hard looks, and clothes that didn’t appeal to the American man. Now, it is just the opposite. With a little creative courage, the trend clearly demonstrates that “traditional” doesn’t have to be boring. These new traditional looks with their trim silhouettes and exaggerated patterns are perfect for the American man who loves the heritage of traditional clothes and the innovation of design. -JA
Knit dressing has emerged as one of the fastest growth categories in menswear. Forever a perennial in womenswear, knitwear has now brought a new dimension to a man’s wardrobe in all product categories. While it may have started with sweaters, knit shirts, and the sweat pant, it can now be found in blazers, soft jackets, outerwear, vests, button front shirts, and even dressier casual trousers. With a mood toward loosening up, all these knitted pieces have rounder, softer silhouettes with high texture and greater comfortability for ease of movement and an overall relaxed look and feel.
Layering knits with wovens, as well as knits with knits, can add individuality and style points for men as they expand their sartorial horizons beyond their predictable (and often times, boring) outfit choices. And what truly makes knits so exciting for a man, especially with all of these richly colored yarns, innovative textured fabrics and the amazing comfort they offer…is not only the deconstruction of all those traditional clothes in his closet, but also his ability to break the rules while really looking good doing it. -JA
Men’s color is branching out to the new greens and the olive family is leading the way. These rich and intriguing tones are as varied as the clothing categories they color for Fall 2016. Starting with the exploding textural textiles permeating tailored clothing, olive has replaced many of the more traditional greens in herringbones, plaids, Donegals, flannels, and even clear finish worsteds. The effect is immediately more vintage and novel at the same time, giving the wearer a sense of heritage while adding a new color scheme to his wardrobe.
Of course, olive shades work beautifully in sportswear as well. Outerwear looks rugged and authentic in oil cloths and weather related fabrics…and washed sweater yarns and brushed cotton shirtings in olive inspired hues have a wonderful all American masculine sensibility. And the best part of this new color direction is that it’s easy to wear! What makes this beautiful olive palette so interesting in its recent iteration is the introduction of indigo blue. One of the most attractive (and perhaps one of the most unexpected), color combinations for men is olive and indigo. By adding denim and chambray to the mix, we create a new opportunity for them to expand their color horizons in a very understandable and stylish way.
For some unknown reason, olive is somehow a part of our genetic memory. Power, authority, and a little touch of the great outdoors is very appealing to most men even though many of them may never have worn olive before, and now they are ready to embrace it. -JA
Menswear changed dramatically in the mid sixties through the early seventies. In the fifties, men dressed with a dreary conformity in nebulous, shapeless suits with little or no personality. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, menswear is turned on its head and the Peacock Revolution begins on what are now some of London’s most recognized locations when it comes to men’s clothing…Savile Row, Kings Road and perhaps the most celebrated of all, Carnaby Street.
Nehru jackets, velvet suits, ruffled shirts and a gaudy helping of chains and medallions replaced those nondescript suits and airport coats almost overnight. Men’s fashion was wildly out of control yet never more exciting…that is, until now.
Today, men’s confidence is at an all time high when it comes to their sartorial sensibility and their appetite for all things fashionable. With this new freedom of self- expression, men are truly dressing up, adorning themselves with more aggressive, bolder patterned suits, paisley jackets, pocket squares, scarves boutonnières, tie bars, cufflinks, hats, and gloves. They now have a more liberated choice of clothes, prowess and stylistic individuality.
This redefined masculinity has energized menswear very much like the original Peacock Revolution did more than forty years ago, but this time around it is more controlled and infinitely more wearable. The new Dandyism we are experiencing is a testimony to the fact that more and more men have developed a truly sophisticated sense of style, and once again have the courage to step out and wear it. -JA
With all the focus on the new textures, patterns and twisted yarns for Summer 2016, interesting color nuances have evolved in this season’s designer clothing and sportswear. But what about color? How can we offer bolder, stronger shades and not look like yesterday’s news? How can this vibrant output of color still be shown with a modern attitude and not contradict this powerful movement away from the obvious and predictable? The answer is simple. There is one common denominator. One common thread that pulls it all together.
It’s called nature.
I am often intimidated when I attempt to recreate the colors that nature has to offer. Even more difficult is to strike that perfect balance of each individual color and how they play off each other in this ever changing fashion show of nature. Think about the inspiration that nature offers when a designer is looking to create his next color palette. In nature, there are no primary color combinations, only a symphony of bright tones and half tones mixed with shadow and light that designers like me could only dream of replicating. Just envision the power and strength of gold and yellow during a fiery sundown, or the dark pinks and orangey reds of a fierce sky at sunrise. What better design resource could there possibly be?
Perhaps one of nature’s most beautiful color palettes and one of the newest directions for menswear, (by no means new to Mother Nature), is what we’ve appropriately called Summer Sunset Colors. These rich shades of pink, Indian reds, golds, and bright terracottas are filtered with light stones and cloud colored neutrals, attempting to recreate that perfect color balance the way that nature does so effortlessly. The literal, and practical application of summer sunset is to design organically rich and bright shades for soft jackets, woven shirts, and knits, but ground them with neutral bottoms to give a more harmonious look, to this exciting color offering for spring and summer 2016, (just the way nature does it…almost, but not quite).
Today, we just might be able to get a little closer to our quest, not because we are better designers, but because of the incredible new fabric developments, washing and dying techniques, and an organic approach in creating new yarns and textiles. It’s as if Mother Nature, tired of all of our failed efforts to replicate her beauty, decided to step in and help us design the collection. -JA
There are no new colors, therefore no new color combinations that haven’t already somehow found their way into designer collections over the years. Certainly, colors, like clothing styles, come in and out of vogue depending on the whim of the fashion press and the mood of the consumer.
But now, an interesting phenomenon has taken place. Texture, while once regarded as a subtle detail to add a little character to a man’s outfit, has suddenly exploded and has become a leading theme for menswear. In fact, when textures are used in combination, they become the new tactile color combinations for Spring and Summer 2016…or the next generation of color.
Herringbones, birds eyes, basket weaves, piquet canvas and steep diagonal twills are being used together to create unique textural effects in all men’s products, giving more character to each piece and ultimately to the wearer. These new textures are certainly more aggressive and are now more visible to the eye, and you no longer need to move in close to see the richness and beauty of the cloth.
I’ve often said the first thing people do when they go shopping for a specific piece of clothing, even before they try it on, is touch it with their eyes. So, now with these new dynamic textures and fabric constructions, that’s going to be a lot easier! And perhaps the metaphor I like best about a man’s individual style is that the textures of his clothes are like the textures of his life…intricate, multidimensional, and richly layered…for men, it’s a beautiful thing indeed. -JA
Last month, we invited a group of menswear bloggers and editors to experience the process of #JACustom from beginning to end — culminating with an in-depth tour of the New Bedford, MA factory where they debuted their #MadeinAmerica custom suit creations. After the trip, Joseph reflected on the experience and answered a few questions about the importance of #MadeinAmerica tailored clothing, the process of #JACustom, and the factory tour journey.
Do you think people connect with idea of Made in America quality?
JA: I think they do. Originally, people had the idea that Made in America clothing was expensive, but I think now, with the way the world has been changing, there is sort of a nationalistic pride that says “We can do it well”. Now they associate “Made in America” with quality and certainly at our factory, with the experience of our workers, they have incredible talent, so there is a quality aspect.
What’s your favorite moment in the custom suit process?
JA: It’s putting your own stamp on it, and sort of defining your own personal style. It’s only for you, and about you. We all are so different. It’s like you don’t know what’s going to come up in the garden and all of sudden, all these different flowers bloom, that’s what happened with the bloggers and editors. We planted the seed, and then they bloomed beautifully.
What does your perfect custom suit look like?
JA: To me, it would always be the gray suit. It is probably the epitome of that one very regal, very important suit that every guy looks substantive in. Every guy looks like he’s serious. It’s always the gray suit first.
What advice do you have for men building a Joseph Abboud custom suit?
JA: I think what they should look at is defining their own personal style. You can’t buy a custom suit off the rack, so for me the idea is: pick something that works for you. It is an investment, a very good investment, but think about how you want to wear your suit and what you want to do with it. Am I more formal? Do I want to do a dark suit? Just express your personality. That’s really important. The first thing to consider is: How is it going to work for me? And why should I make that investment?
It’s so personal. Just the word, “Custom” alone signifies that it’s for you and how you use it in your life. The bloggers and editors were a perfect example. Some of the guys did dark, dressy suits, some of the others did way out stuff and some guys off-white linen. It was just the coolest thing because it gave me even more insight to the range of guys who can buy custom, and how they’re going to use it in their life.
What inspired you to bring these bloggers behind the scenes?
JA: It was the best thing we ever did. It was a great experience. And for me, a lot of these guys have probably never experienced seeing a factory like ours. There aren’t that many. We are largest in North America. When you see 800 people at work, it really is something you want to share with them. So, it isn’t just about the suit they get or the fabric they pick, but they see the whole process, and the amount of hard work, and effort, and engineering, and creativity goes into making those suits. It’s a great behind the scenes look at what we really do.
It is basically like you are opening a suit, and looking at the inside to see how it is made. It’s one thing to see the imagery of the suit, it’s another thing to see what’s behind it. What’s underneath the lining so, to speak. I thought it was great they saw that and the 200 processes we have to make one jacket.
What’s the most important factor you want everyone to be aware of throughout the custom experience?
JA: I think the whole idea was your own personalized, custom suit with incredible style, and quality. This is as authentic, and creative as you can get with quality behind it. To me, it was really special that they understood that from the moment they picked their fabric. I had no idea what they were going to choose, and when I saw the suits on them, and how they all came to life, it was fantastic. It was special.
What’s one thing you’d like the bloggers to take away from the factory tour experience?
JA: The one thing really was how substantive, and how authentic, and how real this is. This is not just a “designer” business. There is real substance behind it. We are the only American designer that has their own factory. We don’t have to go to someone else to make our clothes for us. We make our own clothes, we design it, we create it, we style it, and it’s from the idea right to the backs of the bloggers and editors. The idea of what fabrics we use, and which ones they chose and to see that come to life…they all looked so terrific and they had such great style. It was really fun.
Throughout this entire experience, what has been your favorite moment?
JA: As I saw the guys getting fitted, that was one thing. When they actually came out with their complete outfits on, and I looked at how they were styling their shirts, some guys were wearing ties, and tie bars, and other guys were wearing open linen printed shirts, that was the moment. It became less about me and more about them, and that was a transitional moment that I had about my job. My job was to give them the opportunity to express themselves. So, it’s not about wearing a Joseph Abboud suit, it’s about wearing a Joseph Abboud suit that is styled for you, and that’s the big difference.
Dinner could not have been nicer. They were charming guys, and they’re filled with information, and questions and answers and thoughts and it’s provocative. In the world of menswear, it’s just a way to keep moving forward.
Have you seen that many suits come to fruition like that before?
JA: No. That was what was really cool about it. You do a fashion show, and you have a set idea of what you want to do. Or if I work with my individual friends on their wardrobe, but those are singular ideas and singular points of view. This is what’s really cool. They were so diverse, the guys. Each one really expressed themselves. Their personality came through their clothes. It was perfect. It really looked perfect.