Some Key Brands to Check Out at the Chicago Collective


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Jun 27, 2023

Some Key Brands to Check Out at the Chicago Collective

Although Paul Stuart was founded in 1938, it wasn’t until fairly recently that it started wholesaling some of its collections. The retailer started with footwear a few years ago and then expanded into

Although Paul Stuart was founded in 1938, it wasn’t until fairly recently that it started wholesaling some of its collections. The retailer started with footwear a few years ago and then expanded into formalwear and formal accessories 1.5 years ago, with its tuxedos now being carried at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom launching this fall.

Now the company is setting its sights on the specialty store market and it will be bringing both footwear and formalwear for the first time to the Chicago Collective.

“We really want to attract the independents,” said Paulette Garafalo, Paul Stuart’s executive chairman. “The business with the majors needs to be balanced. Specialty stores know their customers and have a different point of view. And because we’re a retailer, we’re one of the only brands that is very proprietary.”

Paul Stuart operates a flagship on Madison Avenue in New York as well as units in Chicago, on Oak Street, and Washington, D.C.

The collection that will be highlighted at the show was designed by Ralph Auriemma, the store’s longtime creative director. The offering will include classic single- or double-breasted tuxedo jackets with shawl collars or peak lapels in gray flannel with frog closures. Lapels on some models feature a wide, ribbed grosgrain, a detail that is also found on several models of pants as well as top coats.

One jacket sports an eye-popping Art Deco pattern, high and wide peak lapels that Auriemma paired with more subtle formal pants. There is also a velvet moire printed jacket in purple and a variety of velvet dinner jackets, some with satin lapels, in a range of colors.

The fit of the garments is modern and contemporary in the company’s younger-skewed Phineas Cole line or fuller in the more traditional Paul Stuart line.

Most of the tuxedos retail for $2,495 to $2,985 although the company also offers an opening price point option with a satin lapel and waistband that will sell for $1,695.

For the summer months, there are 100 percent unlined linen dinner jackets in blue, white or other hues that can be worn with white tuxedo shirts and light-colored pants.

The formalwear accessories include matching bow ties and cummerbunds in a variety of patterns including Scottish tartans, vertical regimental stripes and prints inspired by old wallpaper patterns with raised velvet blocking. There are also solid silk grenadines for the less adventurous.

In footwear, 18 core styles and 25 for the pre-spring collection will be offered at the show, ranging from dress shoes to espadrilles and sandals.

Billy Reid has experienced his share of ups and downs over the past 25 years. The Alabama-based designer launched his first brand in 1998 under the William Reid name, but despite initial success, it was forced to close when sales dropped after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. After returning to his home state to regroup, he relaunched in 2004 under the Billy Reid name and now, 20 years later, he’s on solid footing.

Reid, who has won three Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards and has become known for his innovative textiles and Southern-skewed perspective, sold a minority stake in the business to some well-heeled local investors a few years ago. He now operates 12 stores around the U.S. and has a solid wholesale business with Nordstrom and top specialty stores.

At the Chicago show, Reid will bring his spring 2024 line, which he titled “Sanctuary.” As he describes it: “When the ground thaws and the weight of winter lifts, there’s an innate pull within each of us to return to nature. We seek open space, a place to breathe, a sanctuary.”

The collection was inspired by a trip to Mexico City, where Reid was surrounded by open-air architecture, botanical gardens and sun-drenched terraces. That translates into a collection of softly tailored pieces that can work as well at an outdoor wedding or garden party as on a boat cruise.

Key pieces include Archie jackets in garment-dyed linen, basket weave double-breasted or slub versions; a zip-front trucker; suede workshirts or patch pocket jackets; canvas peacoats; a denim overshirt; a safari jacket, and a cobalt blue windbreaker. These are complemented by jacquard printed shirts, linen pants, shorts embroidered with a pelican patter and lightweight sweaters. Fabrics include a linen and cotton blend in knits and wool/linen/silk for blazers.

“The jackets are the highlight of the collection,” Reid said. “Men are buying jackets again. After a period when we were not making any, we’re doubling our production now. We’re really leaning into soft tailoring and the versatility of the pieces to transition from work to play. We also looked at how people are wearing the line and we found this helped us bring in the right product at the right time.”

He also noted that his denim shirt continues to the brand’s top-selling piece and it’s available on replenishment for wholesale clients.

Reid said in recent years, he has embraced specialty stores as a key part of his overall business and regional shows such as Chicago have proven to be valuable to the company and he is working to ensure deliveries to wholesale clients are on time and in sync with the Billy Reid direct-to-consumer offering.

“We offer a program specific to our wholesale customers,” he said, adding that retailers have responded to his textiles as well as the “democratic fit” of his menswear. “It’s timeless and ageless.”

L.B.M. 1911 is one of the brands in the portfolio of the Mantua, Italy-based men’s suitmaker Lubiam, which launched the label more than 15 years ago.

For its latest collection, L.B.M. 1911 drew inspiration from the Impressionism art movement to inject a dash of unpredictability in the sartorial staples it is best known for, via a palette including wisteria color and sage green tones, among others.

Highlights of the collection include the brand’s signature garment-dyed wool suits in lilac hues as well as houndstooth blazers in shades of ivory and beige and fitted double-breasted jackets with wide lapels. These are joined by more casual pieces, such as jersey suits in pinstripe patterns paired with drawstring pants and outerwear that mixes jersey and denim.

As a counterpoint to the soft-toned palette, L.B.M. 1911 introduced a new capsule collection dubbed “Blackout,” hinged on easy-to-approach designs in cotton and jersey rendered in white or black. Items in the line include minimal trenchcoats; blazers crafted from a blend of cotton and linen; zippered bomber jackets, as well as logoed hoodies and T-shirts.

Although best known for its tailored menswear and outerwear, L.B.M. 1911 increasingly expanded the assortment to offer total looks through the years, with a catalogue now ranging from knitwear to shirts and accessories such as bags, shoes and scarves.

In general, retail prices for the brand start from 120 euros for knits and swing between 140 euros and 210 euros for pants; between 300 euros and 600 euros for outerwear, and between 600 euros and 750 euros for suits. Stockists include the likes of Brian & Barry in Italy and Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom in the U.S.

The brand is not new to capsule collections, having partnered with other designers and companies in the past on focused ranges. In 2019 it collaborated with Efisio Marras, creative director of the I’m Isola Marras brand and Antonio Marras’ eldest son, on a line of sartorial looks revisited with a punk vibe that included tartan suits styled with chain accessories and tailored outfits embellished with floral prints. That year, L.B.M. 1911 also made its first steps into womenswear with a capsule collection of blazers.

The label’s tailoring know-how is rooted in the tradition of its parent company, which was founded in 1911 by Luigi Bianchi. Today Lubiam offers collections also under the names Luigi Bianchi Sartoria, Luigi Bianchi Cerimonia and Luigi Bianchi Flirt, in addition to L.B.M. 1911.

Florence-based brand Il Bisonte has a tradition in handcrafted leather goods, kickstarted in 1970 when Wanny Di Filippo established the company in a small factory with the commitment to promote high-quality craftsmanship and preserve the tradition of Tuscan leather manufacturing.

The brand’s signature vegetable-tanned leather pieces are manufactured through a supply chain located within 18 miles of Florence, ensuring commitment to local small- and medium-sized enterprises and workshops.

In Chicago, Il Bisonte will display a mix of its spring 2024 collection and heritage pieces, including the Trappola backpack and the Cosimo cross-body style. Among the new designs, the Galileo range will include a travel bag, a briefcase, a cell phone holder with shoulder strap as well as three small leather accessories, all defined by soft lines that further enhance the appeal of the vintage-looking leather.

Retailing at between 475 euros for backpacks and 1,250 euros for travel bags, Il Bisonte collections are distributed in more than 30 countries across key wholesalers such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Rinascente and LuisaViaRoma, among others. The brand is carried in 54 countries and has 56 monobrand stores worldwide, 51 of which are located in Japan.

The strong exposure in Japan has been boosted by the current owner of the company, Look Holdings Inc., which had been Il Bisonte’s distributor and licensee in the country since the ’90s and is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The firm acquired Il Bisonte in 2019 from former owner, private equity Palamon Capital Partners, and has accelerated the overall international expansion plans of the brand since.

As reported earlier this year, Il Bisonte is increasingly targeting the U.S. to scale its business. The brand operates a flagship in New York but chief executive officer Luigi Ceccon said the company is looking to open an additional unit Stateside by the end of 2023 or the first quarter of 2024 and is scouting locations on the West Coast.

The brand unveiled its first store in New York, a two-level 1,940-square-foot flagship on Bleecker Street, in 2019. The unit, as some select stores worldwide, offers customers the opportunity to revitalize previously owned products, giving them a second life thanks to a remise-en-forme and leather care service by an expert craftsman. The company also leverages the flexibility of its artisan workshops to offer customized or personalized capsule collections and products.

Brooklyn, New York-based fashion designer Alex Crane always wanted to create a fashion line, and ultimately decided to take the leap in 2017 with the intent of making sustainable leisurewear.

After design stints at Jack Spade and Levi Strauss & Co., Crane launched his namesake label out of his apartment, slowly building up brand awareness by presenting collections at trade shows.

“The brand started in my apartment in Brooklyn in 2017. I quit my day job, broke up with my girlfriend — we’re married now so it all worked out — and my only instinct was to design a collection and sell it at a trade show,” Crane stated.

While Crane had a clear vision for his fashion label, he explained that he experienced multiple challenges across production, logistics and retail initiatives in the first two years that made it difficult for the brand to find its footing and develop a consistent customer base.

With encouragement from his father, Crane decided to keep moving forward with the brand and ultimately started gaining momentum in 2019 with the help of digital marketing that got his brand’s message to more consumers.

Today the Alex Crane label offers men’s and women’s apparel, accessories and shoes designed with sustainable practices. The brand utilizes natural materials like organic cotton and corozo buttons and has the goal of becoming 100 percent biodegradable. He explained the next line of action is to transition to using 100 percent natural dyes, which he believes he can achieve in the next few years.

“We’ll know we’ve arrived when we can toss our clothes in the compost and they turn to beautiful soil in 16 months,” Crane said about reaching his sustainability goal.

The label is mostly carried at specialty stores and this summer embarked on its first major retail partnership with Bloomingdale’s.

Key menswear pieces that he’ll show in Chicago are the Bo Pants — a longer version of his bestselling Bo Shorts — a range of cotton-linen knitwear and made-to-order suits.

Crane’s overall goal for the brand is to be the global standard for sustainably made apparel basics, highlighting Gap as a business model he’d like to replicate. However, the difference will be his label offers biodegradable styles and will buy back clothing from customers to recycle the fibers.

White Sand is a contemporary brand born in the heart of the Romagna region in Italy, specializing in the production of modern trousers.

The brand is rooted in neoclassicism and innovation, characterized by an informal elegance and a Japanese-inspired fit, with a genderless offering of pants.

Established in 1979, White Sand combines elements of Japanese fashion and street style with elements of traditional Italian tailoring, and is best known for fusing street-style trends along with military details such as patchwork appliquès, new takes on camouflage and hand-painted prints.

The trousers are characterized by two main design elements, usually a drawstring waistband with adjustable belt, and each pair is decorated with a small black stone, carefully placed near the front pocket.

The brand also understands the majority of men still need a lot more convincing to move in a fuller leg direction, so it offers more traditional trouser options in a slim-fit leg, cargo pants, slim chino joggers, above the knee shorts and a pleated trouser.

For spring, highlights include novelty styles such as a tuxedo trouser with fraying details on the side, below-the-knee wide shorts with floral embroidering, and a pleated trouser with an ultra-wide leg opening all the way down to the hem — all in mainly light cottons, linens, technical fabrics and organzas.

Retail prices range from $195 to $295, with most styles falling in the $250 range, and the brand is carried in retailers including Antonia in Milan, Antonioli, Printemps, Isetan, Bon Marche, Matchesfashion, Saks Fifth Avenue, Ron Herman and Fred Segal.

White Sand is produced and distributed by Group Design Moda Srl, a family-run company from the Romagna region that specializes in trouser production and is known for its innovative shapes, materials, special processes and dyes.

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Paul StuartBilly ReidL.B.M. 1911Il BisonteAlex Crane White Sand