Project New York was back, bold and beautiful from July 18 and 19. The once annual menswear trade show finally returned to a physical format at a new venue, Iron23, in New York’s Flatiron neighborhood. Although Project was back in full force, the fashion industry currently has a cloud of both a recession (that is here) and inflation (which hit 9.1 percent) looming over its head. Nevertheless, the show must go on.
While brands did have this little voice in the back of their mind that the economy isn’t as great as it should be, they persevered with confidence and success. Simao Soares, sales manager for Portugal-based brand Inimigo, told FashionUnited, “People at Project feel the menswear market is responding well. I do have some clients who are buying less due to the economy, but at the same time, I have retail partners who have seen growth in the first six months of the year that’s continuing. It’s a mixed bag of feelings, but it varies based on retailers’ locations, strategies, and how they are feeling when they look at their business at the end of the month.”
Soares admits his brand has not prepared for the recession because, “We don’t prepare because we are confident our clients will survive this recession. We are trying to sell more online now so we aren’t just depending on buyers at retail stores. At the end of the day, the biggest business we do does come from physical retail stores.”
According to Soares, buyers are looking to buy more basics that they have confidence in selling through. T-shirts and polos are seeing the biggest buys at his brand because they are seen as “safe sellers.”
Jennifer Downes, a representative for multibrand showroom Mobile Showroom, told FashionUnited that her retail partners are feeling quite confident about weathering the current economic storm. “Our retailers feel very secure about their business. So far, our customer base hasn’t seemed affected by many of the looming economic issues. However, many issues are going on in the world right now that retailers and customers are paying attention to weighing on consumer consciousness. In the meantime, we are working to have a smart and optimistic attitude to create the energy we need to see the fashion industry do well.”
Downes added, “Consumers are being smarter about purchases. I think things like cars and the housing market are going to see the biggest effects of a recession first, but day-to-day purchases, like clothing and accessories, will fare better.”
Justin Rigney, president of sales at denim brand Monfrère, told FashionUnited, “Everyone is keeping their eyes on what is happening with the economy. For us at Monfrère, it’s just a matter of being strategic and where we can find those happy medium costs with our suppliers. Buyers are looking at acquiring more basics and cleaner options. Guys are buying more jeans that are easier to re-wear many times a week.”
Rigney also said consumers are being safer with their purchases as frivolous spending is on the decline. While the government works to curb inflation, consumer spending doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. The menswear market is looking stable for now.