About a month before New York Fashion Week comes Trade Show week, where brands have a chance to show off their latest collection to a host of buyers and press for the upcoming seasonal cycle.
Two of the largest of the menswear shows are Capsule Man and Liberty Fairs, both of which had their showings for Spring/Summer 2014 in New York at the end of July. We were able to scope the newest denim offerings from everyone from Baldwin to Big John and have analysis and photos below.
General trends from S/S ’14 denim, however, include more workwear inspired details – specifically from the late 1950s and early 1960s, more heavily tapered fits, and a resurgence of washed and distressed denim.
Despite our cries to the contrary, washed jeans are coming back. Nearly every denim brand in attendance had at least one faded model on hand. But these pre-made fades aren’t your run-of-the-mill mall brand stonewash, the standard practice is to take a pair of raw jeans that have been beaten to hell to the wash house and ask them to recreate that wear on the fresh product. Not so much “dad jeans” as it is wearing someone else’s fades.
If you’ll pardon that aside, here’s what we took away from the New York Trade Shows.
Rising Sun & Co.
Our Los Angeles-based buds at The Rising Sun & Co. are typically known for their intricate details and depression-era stylings. But owner and designer Mike Hodis is switching things up and taking slightly more contemporary cues from the 1940s and 50s.
They’ve taken a turn on a traditional anorak in a WWII German-styled camo print. Plus they bought out the remainder of a deadstock woven plaid fabric and turned it into backpacks, hats, vests, and jackets. Above is their classic Ranch Jacket.
Two of their biggest drops though are this raw 10oz. Tanker Jacket in 2×1 selvedge – it’s been a while since someone did something new with a denim jacket -and below, the Spade: their first pair of slim-fit buckleback jeans.
Ruell & Ray Deadstock
Ashely James of Ruell and Ray had some double-front work pants with a slim fit.
And she’s brought out washes for the first time; see her classic Spence fit in both raw and distressed above. But true to the “deadstock” part of her name, she also had a killer pair of jeans in a 70s era light indigo denim. Recut and sewn but definitely not for disco.
Kings of Indigo
Amsterdam-based Kings of Indigo made one of their first showings in the States at Liberty.
Most of their offerings are washed or stretch, but some of their fabrics are still very cool like this non-selvedge broken twill.
Like the large rooster on their logo, Good Genes is denim that gets attention. Their products featured a plethora of tonal stitching and visible selvedge.
Including the world’s first “fat selvedge” line on the hem of their jeans. Can’t say I’ve seen that before.
!iTEM is an LA-based denim company that aspires to create contemporary fits instead of heritage reproductions. All of their models are raw and selvedge but some come with slightly unorthodox stitching when compared to your classic five pocket.
Kansas City denim makers Baldwin have gone deeper into washed jeans. They name their washes after the customers who created the original fades.
They’ve also continued to expand beyond just denim with a variety of shirts, knits, sweats, and chinos like the model below made out of the rare and elusive Cramerton twill from North Carolina.
Japanese label Momotaro showed off the typical staples of their line including a rerelease of both their Grand Indigo and Deep Indigo dark-weft denims.
The big announcement though is the introduction of a new fit, a “tight-tapered” model that will have an even slimmer leg and smaller leg opening than their Tight Straight cut.
Naked & Famous
Brandon Svarc came down with his whole team from Naked & Famous, those are his (in)famous 320z. jeans standing next to him. Their lookbook and their line grows thicker every year as they imagine more and more ridiculous ways to redefine jeans.
In S/S 14 they plan on extending their newest Super Skinny Guy fit to cover almost every fabric in their lineup. This year that line includes a new black waxed jean, complete with a patent leather patch.
A pineapple fiber/cotton mix fabric has all the nice neppy pineapple fuzz but none of the sticky taste. The flavorful jeans are coming back too, however, with another scratch and sniff denim – this time in mint!
Other standouts include this jade weft jean that makes the indigo warp look almost iridescent.
And the wackiest/most practical of the bunch is a teflon-coated pair that is water repellent and resistant. See it beading water like a champ below.
Brooklyn jeans operator Christian McCann and his company Left Field brought out one of the coolest Type II style jackets at the show. This one is in a dark 15oz. black selvedge with a camo lining. One of their team has 8 months wear on the same fabric on the right. This guy’ll age beautifully.
One of the original big three, Lee, is starting to throw their weight around in the heritage scene. Their 101 collection inspired by their original jeans as popularized by James Dean.
Of anyone doing washes at the show, I have to say their’s were the most impressive.
Normally, wash and machine distress is fairly easy to spot, but Lee has somehow developed a way to reproduce that same texture, creases, and wear that you’d expect out of a heavily abused pair of jeans – they even wear down the crotch to near blowout level!
Aside from the washes, though, you can still grab both the 101b (button fly) and 101z (zip fly) in their raw and natural state. Each comes with their own set of proprietary details like tonal bar tacks, slightly different stitching, and different hides on the leather patch.
Our Belgian friends Keith and Rob from Eat Dust have mixed in a country, hunting lodge type vibe with their usual biker style. They’ve got vests, blazers, and even OCBD’s on offer.
But the uniting theme of this year’s collection is the amazingly subtle, amazingly hilarious “Dirty Dozen” camo pattern they developed. Notice anything funny featured on the jacket on the left?
How about a closer look. Even if you’re apathetic about streetstyle vulgarity and obscenity, I think everyone can agree that this is amazing.
Han Kjobenhavn started as an eyewear company in Denmark, as you’ll see above, but they’ve also devoted themselves to all things indigo including jeans and indigo dyed knits that fade like jeans.
They have the clean styling and sensibility we’ve come to expect from Nordic menswear.
Bowery Blues is a new Japanese jean line founded by denim veteran Takayuki Echigoya (below). He draws much of his inspiration from classic American models from the 1950s and 60s but adds his own twist.
The immediate standout is the substitution of traditional kimono fabric in place of denim behind the watch pocket.
Don’t worry, those aren’t washes–just demos of what the jeans actually look like faded!
Indigofera is a Scandinavian denim brand with a biker edge. They use primarily non-selvedge raw denim to offer a lower price point, but they still bring some amazing fabric regardless.
This broken twill has an amazing nep to it. Glad to see broken twill is making somewhat of a comeback!
Big John, the brand that started it all, had their full line on display. By now, they offer every color, fit, texture, and weight combination you can imagine, but what impressed me most were the amazingly practical details built into every pair.
Their top of the line jean was chocked full of them. Including leather backed buttons, full lock stitching for durability and coolest of all – the jeans were cut and sewn to anticipate shrinkage. As you’ll see here, the leg already has an overcompensated leg twist that will line up straight once the unsanforized denim is soaked.
Big John is also well known for their collabs, and this year they teamed up with Japanese artist, Rockin’ Jelly Bean, to produce a 3/4 strength dyed light blue jean and striped shirt in homage to the Beach Boys “Surfer Girl” album cover.
Canton is a new brand out of Japan that merges traditional workwear details like triple-stitching and bucklebacks with more avant garde designs. Their flagship model below features a cropped length, hyper-tonal stitching, and multiple types of denim.
Other models were slightly more sedate.
And that’s just about it from Capsule and Liberty Fairs from New York 2013. What stood out to you the most and what are your thoughts on the latest wave of denim?