A menswear designer's thoroughly Italian, thoroughly American take on tailored clothing & the lessons of his father
Monday, August 17, 2009
Shooting Sixes with AC Passarella
As promised, my Collective recap with AC Passarella of A Fresh Take/Adam Christopher NY/The Moods of a Man. Enjoy!
What’s your current role over at ENK?
I coordinate and handle all sales for ENK's three men’s shows: The Collective in New York City, which has been around since the early 1980’s, BLUE, which is our other show primarily driven by top-tier sportswear and denim collections, and ENKVegas, our latest show which will have it’s one year anniversary this season in Las Vegas. My daily routine varies: I can be on the phone with retailers one moment, coordinating marketing another or simply devising a sales strategy based on potential brands for a given season. There’s a lot involved from making sure retailers see who they need to see, finding new brands and assuring these brands as vendors are properly taken care of. Aside from that, I also work with the Coterie, Intermezzo (two of our women’s shows) and WSA which was newly acquired and re-branded so there’s a lot going on in my world.
What was your general feeling about the collective this year and what do you think it says about the current state of menswear? Who were your favorites?
Overall, I think the Collective was great. There's obviously been a slimming down within the industry due to the recent dip in the economy but I was relieved to find that buyers are still out there writing orders. While consumer spending habits are shifting, there are a great deal of excellent brands out there who are maintaining what they have always done and will continue to do so. One reason for the Collective's success this year was having Blue take place in the same venue. It was great because you had more classic, tailored driven retailers walking the Blue show and picking up a hipper, more youthful collection like Harvard Yard, who debuted with us this season. Conversely, you had a more contemporary store walking the Collective saying "Hey, what’s Alden doing?" Vendors at Blue were getting exposure to stores that they normally wouldn’t have access to and vice versa. In the end, it allowed for retailers to find new and different brands that makes sense for them and their customer.
As for my favorites, I’m a sucker for the new and old. I have always loved Alden, Edward Green and Drake's. At Blue, Gant was definitely a standout. The Rugger collection is a direct reflection of the brand's quintessential heritage and style and seemed on point for today’s market. Also notable were Steve McQueen, Tailor Vintage, Harvard Yard and What Goes Around Comes Around.
We all know you’re doing A Fresh Take, Adam Christopher NY & The Moods of a Man. What drove you to take the leap into the bloggeshere with three different mediums?
I started all three blogs out of boredom and creative frustration. I thought why not throw in my two cents. There are a great deal of people out there who are interested in menswear and the lifestyle that comes with it so why not satisfy that need from my own personal take, especially if it’s something I enjoy doing. Each one is my perspective from a different angle.
“A Fresh Take” was simply a passion project that has morphed over time - I wanted to show certain relevant brands and paint a picture, be it from an era or by creating an image. I try to mix it by showing a wide range of looks.
The Moods of a Man is an organic blog in that I have on-going images that inspire me woven and grown into a continuous mood board.
A Fresh Take is really concept driven. Its easy to see how any one of your looks could grown organically into an entire collection. Is design something you would be interested in pursuing in the future?
Designing and working on full collections from the initial idea to the finished marketed look is a passion of mine. Whether its a new retail concept or a look for A Fresh Take, I'm constantly writing in my black book of inspirations and adding to my blackberry notes that are a steady stream of fresh ideas. It all stems from the love I have for fashion, music, art, culture, politics, history, etcetera. I continually inspired by one thing or another and jotting it down. I have designed lines based off of everything from the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958 to Edward the VIII complete with color stories and fabrics. Perhaps someday I'll be able to put it all into work when the timing is right and things make sense. For now it's just something i enjoy.
How do you incorporate this designer's perspective into your current job?
I don’t necessarily need to have the mindset of a designer for what I do. Its more important to be someone who understands and can forecast trends on a grand scale consisting of different markets; knowing what retailers are buying and what's actually selling. A good tradeshow is comparable to a good retail store; it has to have the right direction, the right mix of brands and be merchandised in the right atmosphere. I consider it a store selling to stores as well as a place to get a sense of where the market is and where it’s heading. This affects my blogs more than the other way around.
Where do you see our industry headed and how will that be reflected in future ENK shows?
I think our industry is cleaning shop. That’s been said a million times lately but it is true. I see a return to quality and finely made goods as well as a rise in moderate pricepoints. I don't think that consumers will ever be the same as they were pre-recession. Mid-Level retailers and mass merchants make all the money. The smaller specialty stores have taken a beating and so have the bigger luxury retailers. I would compare the fashion industry to what has happened with the real estate and dot com bubbles. Too many brands, stores and people that essentially did not belong. When you have someone saying "People always tell me I dress well so I’ll start a tee-shirt line" or a store that’s when you have a problem. There were too many people involved who didn’t understand the business of fashion on borrowed credit creating a turn for the worst. I feel like we've bottomed out and we are headed for an upswing. People in the know always return to what works best and that's why I think ENK is positioned well for the future. Brands and retailers will always need a place to see what's going on and know what’s what within the market. We can fulfill that need because we’ve been around a long time, we know what works and have the fresh ideas to keep tradeshows relavent.