Our in-house Tie and Accessory Buyer, Allison Faulkner, brings you up to speed on what’s new and fresh this season.
Jill Smith: What is your approach to assorting a new season of neckwear, in this case Spring?
Allison Faulkner: Generally, most of my fieldwork at the beginning of any season, starts with a trip to Italy. I know, a hard job but someone has to do it, right? I work with various tie vendors in Como assessing what’s trending in terms of pattern, color, fabric, everything, and leave with literally thousands of swatches. I bring those swatches home and work internally with our dress shirt buyer, matching back to seasonal dress shirts and tweaking color and pattern to perfectly fit our vision for the collection. The end result is ideally an assortment of both classic and contemporary choices that perfectly represent our customer’s need for timeless style, with a distinctive Paul Fredrick twist.
JS: So, that’s every season. Anything new on this trip?
AF: I took a little side trip to outside Naples and visited the factory where our 7 Fold ties are made. Actually, factory is not a terribly accurate descriptive. The “factory” is actually in the basement of the Malangone house. They employ about 20 people, many of whom are family and literally everything is done by hand with a little help from sewing machines. It is really very amazing that this type of craftsmanship lives on, and it makes one appreciate the old world art of making a tie.
JS: What are you excited about this season?
AF: Spring is always about fresh color. I love seafoam and lavender. Last year, melon was big and it continues to be a really strong, trending color. We paired it with white-on-white shirts and it is stunning, if I do say so myself. Blue and tan are always important and there is just something about satin. The elegant sheen adds such a level of sophistication to any dress shirt. In the end, a good tie always plays to the strengths of the shirt it is paired with.
JS: What’s going on in the accessory world? Shoes?
AF: The great thing about truly quality footwear is timelessness – the trick to not looking like everyone else is to add a little twist. For example, the penny loafer is a classic, but spice it up with basketweave texture and suddenly you’ve got something really unique. I brought back one of my favorites from last year, a canvas/leather mix which puts a sporty spin on classic wingtip style perfect for Spring. And, my favorite, which also happens to be a wingtip, blue suede with red laces. Definitely bold and fun, but still polished.
AF: I love them too. Hatscontinue to be big in men’s fashion. As temperatures warm up, genuine panamas and other natural straw options tend to be cool and comfortable choices for the dapper gentleman. Lite felt fedoras also work any season. And, of course, the sporty cap. On the golf course or on your way to work, it always puts a little spring in your step.
Want to read more about Spring 2012 men’s fashion trends? Go to Esquire’s Style Guide for Spring 2012.