Men’s Market Style Report

Ezekiel
Anthony Yamamoto
Title: Men’s designer
Years At Brand: Two
Years Designing: Ten
Key Influences: Music, hotel lounges, furniture

Amy Rabine
Title: Men’s designer
Years At Brand: Five
Years Designing: Seven
Key Influences: Furniture, color, textures

What’s the design direction for Spring ’04?
It’s clean and sporty with a modern twist.

What are the key outside influences on design?
The key outside influence would be music. Music dictates fashion and vice versa.

What specific product are you excited about for next spring?
We’re excited about our boardshorts program. We’re incorporating unique colorblocks and prints that will stand out from our market.

What will buyers see from you in colors, silhouettes, washes, and fabrications?
Buyers will see bold muted colors, slim silhouettes, heavier washes, and a variety of interesting textures in fabrics.

What should buyers consider when viewing a line?
Keep an open mind and look for what is next instead of what is right now.

What trends do you see happening in the market, and how will you put your stamp on them for spring?
The important trends are retro beach, vintage sport, fashion/mod, and military influence. You’ll see hints of these trends throughout our line, with an Ezekiel spin.

HIC
Baltazar Magdirila
Title: Men’s designer
Years At Brand: Nine
Years Designing: Twelve
Key Influences: As far as trunks go, I get a lot of ideas from checking out shoes, going to like Foot Locker. I look at the graphics, and piecing and trunk ideas pop up.

What’s the design direction for Spring ’04?
The 80s are coming back. I’m thinking like Fast Times At Ridgemont High, but with a 2004 twist. Checkerboards and, I hate to say, neon stuff. I figure the people that are into it now never saw it the first time around, so it’ll look fresh and new.

What are some key outside influences on design?
Besides shoes? {Laughs} I drive a lot, and I see a lot of graphics on Greyhound buses and Toyota trucks — stripes and things like that. If you drive a lot, ideas just pop in to your head. The freeway is my influence {laughs}.

What specific product are you excited about for next spring?
We’ve done this straw trucker hat {Bora Bora}, and it’s just been going off.

What’s the main difference between this year’s spring line and last year’s?
Again taking that theme of Fast Times, color combination will be more on that end as opposed to browns and light blues. I mean we’ll still have that, but we’re definitely trying to go more on that end. I think it has to. It can’t be 60s or 70s. I think it’s cyclical, and it has its time now.

What should buyers consider when viewing a line?
First, how that line has done. Second, who we distribute to. If there’s one thing we’re really proud of, it’s our distribution. We’re going to support your shop — if you support us, we’re going to keep it exclusive and not sell to the B, C, and D stores. We’re not sold to any department stores.

What else do you see going on out there?
Being a small company, we can react to trends that pop up. The bigger guys are designing way ahead — they have to. Us smaller guys can design closer to the season. In that regard we can capitalize on what may be hot in say, August, and have the show in September.

Lost
Jim Zapala
Title: Design director
Years At Brand: Three
Years Designing: Fourteen
Key Influences:I don’t know if I have any influences. It’s not like there’s somebody out there that I’ve always looked to. Our business is kind of a conglomerate of whatever you see.

So what’s new at Lost for Spring ’04?
I see a white-trash white-kid look that’s emerging and has its own validity, and I think it up to the Orange County brands to really tap in to or nurture that. Kids aren’t wearing the big baggy pants or oversize sweatshirts anymore. I mean, there’re guys buying women’s pants now and tight T-shirts and trucker hats. I kind of see that’s the look that kind of comes out of our lifestyle and our culture more so than a kid wearing those big wide jeans.

Would you say that’s the design direction for the spring line?
I would say so. It’s definitely influencing silhouettes. Our denim’s more — it’s not tight, it’s more traditional-fitting as opposed to oversized. The fits on tops have been becoming more fitted — and I don’t mean fitted in like a Ricky Martin kind of way, just a slimmer cut. The best way I can put it iswhite-trash look,but that sounds kind of contrived. I think there’s a certain style to it that’s beyond calling it that.

What’s the most important part of a line?
I’ve been in this business a long time, and I really think that the flavor of a brand comes from their graphics. Basically, we sell all the same silhouettes, it’s pretty much how you dress it up. We don’t go out and buy a floral print and try to color it. We try to custom-make everything so it has our own distinct look. We need to come up with graphics and images with a little bit more attitude than just really traditional beach looks, because people don’t come to us for that. The flavor really comes from the graphics, and that kind of sets a tone for the rest of your line.

You’ve mentioned the silhouettes are the same. Is there anything we should look for in terms of colors, washes, and fabrications?
Kids are pretty sophisticated in the way they look at denim — more so now than ever. They know what a good wash is. They know what a good color of indigo denim is. For years it was a bleached-out, stone-washed, baggy jean, and that was all that anyone really ever sold. But now there’re tints, all kinds of fancy treatments on denim, and our market’s accepting it.

We’re coming up with new treatments and finishes. We have a thing we called Meltdown, where we cover a fabric in ink, which makes it stiff like cardboard. We sew the garment together and then we stone-wash it — it gives it a really cool two-toned effect.

Are there any other specific products you’re excited about for next spring?
The cowboy shirts have become popular on a pretty big level, and now it’s time to go beyond that. I’m going to try to do something different, like every single woven shirt’s going to have a little unique hit on it. It’s a more sophisticated look, and I think people are willing to step up a little bit. What’s exciting right now is that people are really looking for fashion. That’s really great for us to see. It’s not full of cargo shorts and khaki and Hawai`ian-printed shirts like it was three years ago.

What should buyers consider when they view your line?
I hear so many different things that people want in their specific areas. Our California guys can’t sell a basic plaid shirt; they want something directional. The cowboy shirts drove some business for a while, and it’s going to move beyond that. But if you show a guy in Florida or the Mid-Atlantic a cowboy shirt, they laugh at you. They wonder what the hell you’re doing, because they have the real rednecks that wear ’em there.

What to look for? You got to cover your basics, and then keep those last three styles in your categories as being just the new shit. You have to have a balanced presentation and pay attention to your specific market. A San Diego store will want something completely different from an Orange County store.

Matix
Mike Gomez
Title: Surfwear designer and production manager
Years At Brand: Four
Years Designing: Six
Key Influences:More of a classic aesthetic than a techy, crazy kind of thing. We travel a lot for our inspiration. For this season it’s more of a classic thing.

What’s the design direction for Spring ’04?
As far as our denim line, we’re going for really natural-looking washes — trying to stay away from a crazy kind of thing. It’s minimal, with an 80s and 70s influence. Fits are getting slimmer for sure — we’re not selling nearly as much baggy stuff anymore. There’s little interest in that nowadays.

What specific product are you excited about for next spring?
We’re always excited about our denim. We put a lot of time and energy into that. We’re also really expanding our boardshorts line. We just dabbled with it in the past, and it did really well for us in Spring ’03. So for Spring ’04 we’re going to offer a pretty wide selection.

As far as the focus, we’re not here to compete with the super functional technology in surf trunks. We come from a skate background, and guys are more concerned about just having something to wear to the beach or to school. A lot of the skate kids don’t really want to wear the older, more mainstream surf brands, so we offer them something that relates more to them.

Are there any particular washes, fabrications, silhouettes, and colors we should look for?
We’re doing a lot of earthy colors, tonal blues. As far as fabrications, we’re doing more organic and matte-looking {fabrics}, not using much synthetic or shiny-type fabrics.

What should buyers consider when viewing a line?
They’re always concerned with aesthetics, but they should consider the craftsmanship. Just because something is lower price doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to buy. More and more companies are manufacturing overseas, and it’s harder to watch the quality if you’re not there. We try to make a real point to keep the quality and craftsmanship there — and keep the buyers aware. We’re one of the few companies that does it all in the U.S.A. We do it in downtown L.A., and we’re proud of that.

What trends do you see happening in the market, and how will you put your stamp on them for spring?
There’s a lot of trends going on, so many different kids out there. The hip-hop, the punk rockers, there’s a little bit of a preppy thing going on — a retro thing. Whatever kind of group people are looking to buy into it’s more of a cleaner, refined aesthetic.

Monument
Dave Matt
Title: Cofounder, head designer
Year At Brand: Since January (the start of Monument)
Years Designing: Nine
Key Influences: I spend quite a bit of time in off-the-wall boutiques and thrift stores and looking through magazines, grandfather’s closet, and eclectic places out there that are below the radar screen.

What’s the design direction for Spring ’04?
You can easily find Monument’s line fitting in smaller boutique shops, and it can find its way just as easily onto the shelves of surf shops. We’re aiming to position our brand as one that bridges the gap between boutique and surf shop.

Any other key outside influences?
I like to take kind of the high fashion and bring it down to a level that a seventeen-year-old surfer will understand and feel confident wearing, but with some added flair.

What specific product are you excited about for next spring?
I’m stoked on a pair of pants. It’s a ten-ounce denim called the Patchwork Pant. We’ve taken some panels and embroidered them and cut through the denim to expose the inner embroidered panel. That one’s cool and different. Also, our Art Director Erin Martin is a brilliant graphic artist, so our screenprints are really strong.

What will buyers see from you in terms of colors, silhouettes, washes, and fabrications?
We’re doing some stretch wring-spun denim. Our line is going to be about 50-50 bread and butter for the shops — we know they’ve got to pay their bills, so we want to help them do that. And we also want to introduce new styles and new silhouettes. We’ve got some stuff like a lighter weight poly- thing.

What’s the design direction for Spring ’04?
As far as our denim line, we’re going for really natural-looking washes — trying to stay away from a crazy kind of thing. It’s minimal, with an 80s and 70s influence. Fits are getting slimmer for sure — we’re not selling nearly as much baggy stuff anymore. There’s little interest in that nowadays.

What specific product are you excited about for next spring?
We’re always excited about our denim. We put a lot of time and energy into that. We’re also really expanding our boardshorts line. We just dabbled with it in the past, and it did really well for us in Spring ’03. So for Spring ’04 we’re going to offer a pretty wide selection.

As far as the focus, we’re not here to compete with the super functional technology in surf trunks. We come from a skate background, and guys are more concerned about just having something to wear to the beach or to school. A lot of the skate kids don’t really want to wear the older, more mainstream surf brands, so we offer them something that relates more to them.

Are there any particular washes, fabrications, silhouettes, and colors we should look for?
We’re doing a lot of earthy colors, tonal blues. As far as fabrications, we’re doing more organic and matte-looking {fabrics}, not using much synthetic or shiny-type fabrics.

What should buyers consider when viewing a line?
They’re always concerned with aesthetics, but they should consider the craftsmanship. Just because something is lower price doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to buy. More and more companies are manufacturing overseas, and it’s harder to watch the quality if you’re not there. We try to make a real point to keep the quality and craftsmanship there — and keep the buyers aware. We’re one of the few companies that does it all in the U.S.A. We do it in downtown L.A., and we’re proud of that.

What trends do you see happening in the market, and how will you put your stamp on them for spring?
There’s a lot of trends going on, so many different kids out there. The hip-hop, the punk rockers, there’s a little bit of a preppy thing going on — a retro thing. Whatever kind of group people are looking to buy into it’s more of a cleaner, refined aesthetic.

Monument
Dave Matt
Title: Cofounder, head designer
Year At Brand: Since January (the start of Monument)
Years Designing: Nine
Key Influences: I spend quite a bit of time in off-the-wall boutiques and thrift stores and looking through magazines, grandfather’s closet, and eclectic places out there that are below the radar screen.

What’s the design direction for Spring ’04?
You can easily find Monument’s line fitting in smaller boutique shops, and it can find its way just as easily onto the shelves of surf shops. We’re aiming to position our brand as one that bridges the gap between boutique and surf shop.

Any other key outside influences?
I like to take kind of the high fashion and bring it down to a level that a seventeen-year-old surfer will understand and feel confident wearing, but with some added flair.

What specific product are you excited about for next spring?
I’m stoked on a pair of pants. It’s a ten-ounce denim called the Patchwork Pant. We’ve taken some panels and embroidered them and cut through the denim to expose the inner embroidered panel. That one’s cool and different. Also, our Art Director Erin Martin is a brilliant graphic artist, so our screenprints are really strong.

What will buyers see from you in terms of colors, silhouettes, washes, and fabrications?
We’re doing some stretch wring-spun denim. Our line is going to be about 50-50 bread and butter for the shops — we know they’ve got to pay their bills, so we want to help them do that. And we also want to introduce new styles and new silhouettes. We’ve got some stuff like a lighter weight poly-cotton chino.

What trends do you see happening in the market, and how will Monument put its stamp on them for Spring ’04?
I see the larger companies trying to emulate what the boutiques are doing in an authentic way. The direction the market is heading is more organic and loose and more free-form and creative. So it’s like the trickle up theory — it’s coming from the grassroots, the little shops, and the little guy, and it’s trickling up three or four seasons later to the big guys.

What should buyers consider when they view a line?
I would encourage buyers to take the company as a whole and to step outside of the cords and the saltwater denim. Check out what’s pushing the limits, and give the customer some options.

O’Neill
Diem Phan
Title: Director of merchandising and design
Years At Brand: Almost three
Years Merchandising: Eleven (was previously a buyer)

What’s the design direction for Spring ’04?
We want to expand on the success of our boardshorts line from last year, keeping the technical aspects of boardshorts and making it functional. In sportswear we’re trying to add more fashion, so military looks are going to be very big for us. Not necessarily cargoes the way they used to be, but using cargo-pocket treatment and elements of military influences all over the line. We also believe in the retro look, a kind of vintage surf look. In boardshorts — and in the whole ‘core-sport area — brighter colors like white and shots of turquoise and green and reds are really important as well.

What will buyers see from you in terms of washes, silhouettes, and fabrications?
Washes are super important, as are fabrications. We’re adding several new fabrics to our line. Instead of sticking with the same old twills, we’re working with the finishes of fabrics and making sure the details on the fabrications and the details on the wash are there. We’re using a lot more pigment over-dying, stone washes, and sandblasts.

What specific product are you excited about for next spring?
Going into spring, we’re particularly excited about boardshorts. I think we’ve upped what we did last year in Spring ’03 for sure. We’re also excited about our graphics, especially on T-shirts.

What’s the main difference between this year’s spring line and last year’s?
We had a very strong boardshort and T-shirt line as well last year, but we didn’t have the sportswear to balance out the line. This year we feel like there’s more of a balance in the entire line.

What should buyers consider when viewing a line?
They should view the whole line and not just key items. We’re trying to put the line together into not quite an actual collection, but retailers can pull things together from each part of the line. They’ll see military looks in each part of the line: in boardshorts, walkshorts, and in tops. They can buy it and merchandise it together on their floor.

Redsand
EricGigGigler
Title: Merchandiser
Years At Brand: Ten
Years Designing: Ten
Key Influences: I like a lot of the stuff that Nicholas Bower does at Stüssy and the stuff that Jeff does at Modern Amusement. I like the couture stuff, but a lot of the times it’s not applicable {to this market}. There’re different things you can pull from there; they’re a little ahead as far as trends go.

What’s the design direction for Spring ’04?
We’re kind of a tops-driven company, so we’re doing a lot of stuff with different textures. Solids are becoming more important over the basic plaid. We’re also putting unique screenprints in certain areas. We’re putting our own twist on the basics — a unique stitch technique, a screen on a different area, or a piecing where you wouldn’t usually find it.

Can you give some general advice for buyers?
Don’t buy just one piece from a brand — buy a collection of things. With most of