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FW13: Bernardo Rojo for Joseph Abboud- Pitti Like Its 1999

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
FW13 Joseph Abboud Red by Bernardo Rojo
Going back to look forward? A return to another fashion time with greater ease and greater accessibility.

The Abboud brand is back with a vengeance. No longer the Buick LeSabre of the fashion world, a conservative “starter suit” for a man bridging department store with designer, Abboud is positioning itself as a new American luxury brand with a wide range of styles and pricepoints. They also have a new designer, Bernardo Rojo, born in Spain and with a great CV of past work ranging from DG to Prada to Michael Kors. I sat front-row at the FW13 runway presentation of the new “Red” Line at Pitti, and was consistently surprised by the looks shown.

First, a bit of context:
I cut my fashion teeth in the late 1990’s with Helmut Lang, Jil Sander, and Miuccia Prada. These three defined the decade as the antithesis of Tom Ford’s highly charged, highly sexual glamor at Gucci with simple, quiet, minimal garments that pushed any number of envelopes (fabrics from sportswear imported for tailored clothing, use of luxe traditional materials like cashmere into sportswear, premium denim, luxury sport trainers, just to name a few).

It didn’t last, however; Helmut has left fashion forever, Jil has come and gone a few times while never quite striking the right balance, and Prada has decayed into a mass-market blitz splattering its triangle on everything from playing cards to Made-in-Vietnam sneakers. A few designers (especially Calvin Klein Collection and CoSTUME NATIONAL) have tried to keep the minimal dream alive, though increasing pricepoints and reduced distribution have made high quality, wearable, interesting minimalism a difficult find in the 2010’s.

Enter into this market Bernardo Rojo’s Abboud Red: a brand that channels these designers and those times, but with a forward-looking eye toward marketing and brand position.

What I like: I miss the late 1990’s. I miss that Helmut jeans were $150, and Jil shoes were $395. As such, seeing this collection, I felt like I was back in my prime, and learning that the pricepoints were intended to be mid-range and accessible (in the Hugo Boss range or less), I was quite pleased. I liked some of the outerwear, especially a laser-cut blazer, and the cut of the trousers (slim but not excessive, hints of synthetic sportswear fabrics with more traditional wools and cottons), and the subdued color pallete that ranged from dark burgundy to midnight blue to ivory.

What I don’t: The reason a simple Jil Sander sweater or Prada techno fabric pant was $1000 in 1998 was because the materials, fabrics, and construction were superlative. I still have some of these in my wardrobe going strong; both brands spend a great deal of time, R&D, and money on the fabrics. With some of the “fast fashion” collaborations, such as +J, the styles remained the same but with drastic reductions in the quality of the materials. For the first month or two of wear, one may not tell a difference; after a year of regular use, however, one could tell for certain. This is my worry about this Abboud line; at this pricepoint, I worry about wear. As well, even on the runway, some of the fabrics looked bizarre, with an awkward flow as the model walked in them. In short, true minimalism only works with superlative materials, and an “accessible” pricepoint doesn’t always do them justice.

My other concern is both the timing and the derivative styling: first, it it’s no longer 1999, meaning fashion has moved on to many other things. Second, I saw so many influences in the items that I don’t quite know where an original style will come out in them. I saw Calvin Klein Collection AW08 in a chunky neoprene sweater; I saw Jil Sander in all the lazer cut outerwear; I saw CoSTUME NATIONAL in virtually all of the waxed, sheen pants. Where in this crowded pool is room for Joseph Abboud?

Overall Assessment: I was recently told by an auto dealer that the 2013 models “weren’t my father’s Buick.” That was the vibe I received about Abboud from the press releases, the discussions with Abboud reps, and the overall push at the runway show. Whether or not the market needs another accessible luxury brand, or whether or not Abboud has the name recognition to position itself again in the top-tier of the market, has yet to be determined. That being said, the willingness to look back to a key period of fashion history while infusing it with some contemporary details interests me enough to give the brand another look.

The full collection isn't on the Abboud site yet, but a google search for FW13 Abboud will show the full collection. You might even find yours truly front-row center in a blue Castangia jacket and bright green socks.

More info on the brand and its design philosophy:
http://www.josephabboud.com/


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CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v80), quality = 90
CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v80), quality = 90
CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v80), quality = 90
post #2 of 11

Great post, Professor. I lol'd about the Buick Le Sabre reference -- somehow I always associate Abboud with names like Alexander Julian and Geoffrey Beene. I like the direction that Rojo has taken. The last couple collections don't strike me as severe at 90s minimalism... although I see FW13 definitely went that way...esp those monochrome waffle pattern knits and techno jackets. 

 

off-topic: I like the shape of the suit jackets he did for SS13. The lapels and shoulder remind of 1920s-30s American style a bit.

 

SS13 (Click to show)


Edited by Parker - 2/20/13 at 9:00am
post #3 of 11
Thanks, this stuff is right up my alley and i doubt I would have even heard about it otherwise. fing02[1].gif I also enjoyed the little personal 90's fashion retrospective. Even if some of the pieces are derivative, they still seem like they're worth checking out.

Any word on stockists for this new line?
post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by rach2jlc View Post

What I like: Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I miss the late 1990’s. I miss that Helmut jeans were $150, and Jil shoes were $395. As such, seeing this collection, I felt like I was back in my prime, and learning that the pricepoints were intended to be mid-range and accessible (in the Hugo Boss range or less), I was quite pleased. I liked some of the outerwear, especially a laser-cut blazer, and the cut of the trousers (slim but not excessive, hints of synthetic sportswear fabrics with more traditional wools and cottons), and the subdued color pallete that ranged from dark burgundy to midnight blue to ivory.

What I don’t: Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The reason a simple Jil Sander sweater or Prada techno fabric pant was $1000 in 1998 was because the materials, fabrics, and construction were superlative. I still have some of these in my wardrobe going strong; both brands spend a great deal of time, R&D, and money on the fabrics. With some of the “fast fashion” collaborations, such as +J, the styles remained the same but with drastic reductions in the quality of the materials. For the first month or two of wear, one may not tell a difference; after a year of regular use, however, one could tell for certain. This is my worry about this Abboud line; at this pricepoint, I worry about wear. As well, even on the runway, some of the fabrics looked bizarre, with an awkward flow as the model walked in them. In short, true minimalism only works with superlative materials, and an “accessible” pricepoint doesn’t always do them justice.

My other concern is both the timing and the derivative styling: first, it it’s no longer 1999, meaning fashion has moved on to many other things. Second, I saw so many influences in the items that I don’t quite know where an original style will come out in them. I saw Calvin Klein Collection AW08 in a chunky neoprene sweater; I saw Jil Sander in all the lazer cut outerwear; I saw CoSTUME NATIONAL in virtually all of the waxed, sheen pants. Where in this crowded pool is room for Joseph Abboud?

The perennial concern with this type of project, really.

The way the fashion industry is set up, I have an in-built fear about mid-range stuff. Is it made to barely higher than mall brand standards, just more expensive because of the cost of better design and smaller volume and distribution? Or are they just choosing not to over-price due to excessive marketing and brand hype?

There are very few mid-range brands in which decent quality persists. Brands like Stephan Schneider are a big exception to the rule, IME. Also, many mid-range Italian brands seem to be able to retain quality better than their Euro/American counterparts (Messegarie, Crossley, Paolo Pecora etc seem to produce to reasonable standards).
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hendrix View Post

The perennial concern with this type of project, really.

The way the fashion industry is set up, I have an in-built fear about mid-range stuff. Is it made to barely higher than mall brand standards, just more expensive because of the cost of better design and smaller volume and distribution? Or are they just choosing not to over-price due to excessive marketing and brand hype?

There are very few mid-range brands in which decent quality persists. Brands like Stephan Schneider are a big exception to the rule, IME. Also, many mid-range Italian brands seem to be able to retain quality better than their Euro/American counterparts (Messegarie, Crossley, Paolo Pecora etc seem to produce to reasonable standards).

Agreed. I haven't purchased one in years, but I also found that Dries was one who offered a nice product at a fair price (compared to the "big" brands).

Overall, with minimal stuff, this is exacerbated by the fact that it "looks" exactly the same on the store shelf. Unless you have a microscope to analyze thread counts or count stitches on a hem, you really can get sold on a mid-range item thinking it's almost as good as the original. You only realize the difference on the second washing, though, when it starts to pill, stretch, or simply unravel... vs. the $$$ fabric that still goes strong years on.

Nevertheless, with Abboud, I also had a chance to touch the garments up close in the showroom; since Abboud doesn't have the name recognition of Boss/D&G/etc, it appeared to me that they were focusing more more on quality/design than on hype. IF they become very popular, however, they may change that and scale back.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rompson View Post

Any word on stockists for this new line?
Thanks! Unfortunately I don't have a stockist list. On another thread members also inquired about stockists, but one thing about Pitti is that it's a show with buyers AND press, meaning that the brands are hoping to GET stockists to buy the stuff. SO, I was unable to get a stocklist and probably one won't be ready until closer to the season. SS13 is just starting up now, so we've got a few more months.

I'm hoping that they'll update me with a list when one is available (and if so, I will post it!)
post #6 of 11
May I present the Joseph Abboud-edition Buick Regal from the early aughts:




"Mid-price" concerns me as well. In the case of DVN, they achieve their pricepoint with inferior fabrics and Chinese construction. A couple years ago, I was thrilled with a $350 Dries cardigan- until it came back from the cleaners shog[1].gif It had faded with astonishing speed, and the glaze on the buttons was chipping off in large chunks.

Outerwear looks nice, though. God knows there's space for it between Macy's $200 garbage and $6k Bottega.
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by DesignerValet View Post

"Mid-price" concerns me as well. In the case of DVN, they achieve their pricepoint with inferior fabrics and Chinese construction. A couple years ago, I was thrilled with a $350 Dries cardigan- until it came back from the cleaners shog[1].gif It had faded with astonishing speed, and the glaze on the buttons was chipping off in large chunks.

Outerwear looks nice, though. God knows there's space for it between Macy's $200 garbage and $6k Bottega.

The cleaners... I will bet that was the issue with the cardigan, especially given your description of the damage. Unless you bring it to a ridiculously expensive laundry with very specific instructions (I used to use a French laundry - a tuxedo shirt witha pleated bib cost $30 per wash, but they did a terrific job.) Cleaners use the most harsh treatment and an industrial strength press. I think that the best way to wash a knit is by hand, or on low everything, in a delicates bag.
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by LA Guy View Post

The cleaners... I will bet that was the issue with the cardigan, especially given your description of the damage. Unless you bring it to a ridiculously expensive laundry with very specific instructions (I used to use a French laundry - a tuxedo shirt witha pleated bib cost $30 per wash, but they did a terrific job.) Cleaners use the most harsh treatment and an industrial strength press. I think that the best way to wash a knit is by hand, or on low everything, in a delicates bag.

I had a feeling I was going to have to elaborate on this. The cleaner I use is a specialty operation reccomended by most of our local upscale retailers; my more expensive knits (Marni, Chanel, McQueen) have always been returned no worse for wear.

Dry cleaning is not ideal, but one cannot expect most consumers to trouble with specific cleaning requirements themselves.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DesignerValet View Post

M In the case of DVN, they achieve their pricepoint with inferior fabrics and Chinese construction. .

That's disappointing! I haven't really followed or bought from the brand since, perhaps, 2003-04, so I didn't know they'd moved that far down.
post #10 of 11
Yeah I still love Dries but the quality isn't anything to write home about, at least from what I've seen recently. I'm not old enough to have seen the older stuff in person.

It's unfortunate because the patterns and colours are right up my alley.
post #11 of 11
Other than accessories (his leather backed painted denim belts from a few seasons back were pretty interesting) and vintage Dries for my wife (his early knits were incredible), the last Dries pieces that I bought were were a tuxedo shirt from 2005, all in pique, which was amazing. I am *still* trying to track down a blue/teal leather peacoat from 2003. Between Dries van Noten at his finest and the breakout 2003 and 2004 seasons for Cloak, as well as my discovery of accessories at Alan Bilzerian, I ate a lot of cheap pizza while I lived in Cambridge on a postdoc diet.
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