January is the month for menswear trade shows, which provide a great opportunity to see new products, talk shop and above all, enjoy the parade of fine clothing worn by the participants. Pitti Uomo 2012 in Florence began the season with a bang, and today we’d like the share our impressions of MRKET in NYC.
Unlike at Pitti, it was immediately noticeable that there were considerably fewer well dressed men present. In Italy, a nice suit combination is de rigueur, but in the US not many attendees dressed for the part. However, we were able to spot a noteworthy contenders in addition to a number of interesting brands from Great Britain, Italy and Northern America.
The range of products was quite deep, and it was easy to find all manner of rugged leather goods, ties, bags, jackets, suits and overcoats. Many of the brands and manufacturers were more fashion forward and not so concerned with quality, however there are still a few brands that adhere to heritage standards of quality. It was reassuring to see that some firms (though far fewer than in Italy) have resisted the pull cheap production techniques, locations, and materials.
At the entrance of the show, there were a number of well put together displays in which the show organizers had thoughtfully arranged a variety of pieces from the vendors of the show.
Each vendor provided just one item, but the display looked very harmonious. Of course, they were not always 100% correct – a Barbour Wax jacket was on the display with the Star Spangled Banner and American Apparel. Despite the occasional slip, this little overview allowed the visitors to enjoy the goods of each vendor with respect to the needs of the attendees, who come to MRKT primarily to determine the array of products in their stores.
Aside from the products, there were quite a few men in suits and sport coats. Even though the show attendees were far more formally dressed than the average group of Americans, the primary misstep came down to poorly executed details – cheap shoes that pulled down an otherwise nice combination, or a lack of confidence in choosing patterns. Here is a small selection of the more interesting outfits I came across.
Pork Pie & Kent Fasson
First up, we saw a young man who was very well put together. He wore a light grey pork pie hat very tilted on his head – a fashion that was quite popular in the 1910s. Instead of a classic necktie or an ascot, he decided to go with a tied silk scarf. Personally, I really enjoyed the look of it, especially in combination with his orange & white pocket square. His navy blue wool blazer had a Kent Fasson 6×1 button placement – meaning that it was only designed to be buttoned on the bottom button. This kind of style usually creates a deep V.
In order to contrast this, he decided to wear it with a single breasted white vest. If you want to wear a waistcoat with a double breasted coat, this is definitely a fantastic way to do it.
His pale blue and pink striped shirt harmonized nicely with the mid-grey trousers. Overall, I though he was very well dressed, although he showed a little too much shirt cuff for my taste.
Next, I stumbled upon a thoroughly flamboyant character who considered himself to be a dandy – and he certainly was not shy about colors and patterns! Andy Stinson wore a single breasted jacket with peaked lapels that was made of a paisley velvet. He combined it with a white shirt, boldly striped tie, tie pin, cuff links and full cut brown-orange trousers that had four pleats on each side. On closer inspection, the pants were high waisted and clearly reminiscent of the 40’s. As you may guess, this is simply too much for my taste but it seemed to work for him. He was definitely a character!
Subsequently, I met Duncan Quinn, who wore a double breasted suit with 3 closing buttons, notched lapels, and hacking pockets! Moreover, the suit was tailored from a plaid and windowpane cloth in grey – a bold choice for such a pattern. Unfortunately, he had been standing and handling things all day so that his sleeves were already wrinkled.
His narrow cut trousers were topped off by black oxford shoes that matched the black in his tie and pocket square. Despite his bold suit, the one accessory that really stood out was his glasses. From a distance, they look like regular modern glasses with a bolder, brown frame. However, I noticed at once that these were made from tortoiseshell. When I say tortoiseshell, I mean the real thing, and not the imitation acrylic that almost all tortoiseshell sunglasses are made of nowadays. I knew it was real because only genuine tortoiseshell develops a matte, white patina over time if it is not polished regularly.
Finally, I saw a gentleman in a classic Blackwatch Tartan sportscoat. I thought it looked quite well – even though I have never seen one before. This kind of fabric is usually reserved for dressing gowns, pajamas or quilts. Have you ever seen one before? In any case, I thought it was a good choice for a more casual blazer.
Now, you may be asking what I wore to the show! Stay tuned as my outfit should be featured on the Dandy Portraits in the near future.
Overall, MRKET was a trade show for haberdashers looking to buy for the coming season, with no consumers present. As such, it is not really a second Pitti Uomo because it lacks the sheer number of peacocks that try to express their style as if they were on a catwalk.