понедельник, 8 октября 2012 г.

A fusion of sport and formal - International Herald Tribune

International Herald Tribune
A fusion of sport and formal
Type: News

Men's wear designers in Milan are doing a good job of blending sportswear and the sartorial.

With a swing toward tailoring, sportswear is having to fight for its premium position. And designers are making a good job in this Milan men's wear season of blending the sporty and the sartorial.
'New York -- it's my city,' said Italo Zucchelli, the Italian- born designer at Calvin Klein who gave his winter 2012 show a downtown energy.

Although high-tech fabrics have been a driving force in Mr. Zucchelli's 21st-century take on men's fashion, this show was rooted in everyday sportswear -- but that was upscale enough to add alligator sleeves to a wool bomber jacket and configure a mighty overcoat in mohair.

Unlike most Milan runways, the show did not focus on tailored suits, although a few skinny shapes drew the enthusiasm of the musician Joe Jonas, sitting front row. But after seeing the sartorial side of male dressing swamping Milan, it was good to have a reality check.

Mr. Zucchelli played with an oversized camel coat, with bold duffels and even with a nylon parka, patterned like a twinkling New York skyscape. But his focus on the modern man was as grounded as the thick-soled shoes.

'It's for the new gentleman -- urbanites, after the explosion of jeans and sneakers,' said Paul Surridge, the new designer at Z Zegna, speaking alternatively in his native English and fluent Italian learned through a fashion trajectory from Prada to Jil Sander.

The identifying detail of this 'smarten-up!' collection was displayed on the backdrop: metallic copper that was used in zippers on parkas, on belt buckles and on a spiffy iPad case. While the previous Z Zegna look had researched inventive fabrics to mix with classics, this show had some strong statements about silhouette: egg- shaped for coats, slim-line for suits and a taut vest recalling formal wear in the 1950s.

Mr. Surridge also played with masculine color, bringing blue, brown and green to the palette. A use of hoods with formal jackets was a smart hybrid approach. Yet there was a sense that he was -- perhaps wisely -- feeling his way. From this good starting point, he needs to define the line with more than copper as the Z Zegna accent.

With 9,000 miniature racing cars lined up on the floor of a palazzo and with sponsor patches on puffer jumpsuits, Moncler Gamme Bleu had come down from the mountains and on to the racetrack.

Previously, the embrace of different sports, from swimming through fencing, had been reinforced by the venue. This Formula One show was more workmanlike: a descriptive narration of the outfits, as in old fashioned couture shows.

What was lost in performance was gained in up-close detail. The designer Thom Browne has an exceptional ability to play with the Moncler down, this season with various detachable parts.

The problem is that with a copycat puffa jacket in every other Milan mark-down window, even with sharp tailored pieces, varied shorts, trench coats and capes, how can Moncler move the concept as fast forward as a racing car?

Trussardi's leather heritage was taken back to the 1970s by the designer Umit Benan, who produced a cast of often hirsute characters toting bags. In their wide lapel suits, sporty leather jackets, fur- collared coats and cardigans, they looked like characters drawn from the fast-track crowd on the video screen backdrops.

Mr. Benan has a kooky signature that he melded with Trussardi leather pieces like gloves and tote bags. But whether a fashion style can be defined for this leather brand remains to be seen.

Keywords: Fashion and Apparel (Des)

Copyright International Herald Tribune Jan 17, 2012

воскресенье, 7 октября 2012 г.

U.S. buyers like 'lean, shapely' looks in Milan; also cardigans, outer coats and marriage of clothing/sportswear. - Daily News Record

MILAN (FNS) - North American buyers at the fall/winter 1996 shows said Milan's designers, and especially the new generation, are fueling a quiet revolution in men's wear with their slimmer shapes, stretch fabrics and successful attempts to marry tailored clothing with sportswear.

Italy's designers, they say, are seeking the best of all possible worlds by trying to fuse the slim, sleek shapes of the 1970s with the comfortable clothing of the '80s.

Buyers shopping the four-day Milan collections, which ended here on Wednesday, applauded design houses Gucci and Prada for giving a linear, architectural feel to clothing: narrow, flat-front trousers and jackets with higher armholes, leaner cuts and roped shoulders. They said they like that designers are paying more attention to tailoring and making fabrics more supple with generous injections of spandex.

'Construction and tailoring are back,' said Kalman Ruttenstein, senior vice-president for fashion direction at Bloomingdale's. 'Italy, which is known for its tailoring, was getting too unconstructed and very sloppy for a while. Today we are seeing a leaner, more shapely look.'

Buyers, many of whom are on a mission to teach customers the art of corporate casual dressing, showered praise on Giorgio Armani for the way he mixed his double-breasted jackets with knits, and paired pinstripe suits with matching solid shirts and ties.

'This is a very exciting era: proportions are changing and there is a great attempt to bridge sportswear and tailored clothing. Designers are clearing the cobwebs out of our minds,' said Derrill Osborn, director of men's clothing at Neiman Marcus.

Both Osborn and Colby McWilliams, fashion director of Neiman Marcus, said Gucci and Prada have been fine-tuning the slimmed-down looks they launched a few seasons ago, making them more comfortable and wearable.

Prada, for example, infused traditional staples like Prince of Wales, herringbones and poplin with spandex. 'Prada has been very innovative with its use of techno fabrics - especially stretch fabrics - which allow for comfort and freedom of movement with the tighter suits, ' Osborn said.

Gucci designer Tom Ford toned down his skinny pants - revived as hip-huggers two seasons ago - making them more practical. His slim, eight-button jackets with epaulets also won praise.

'The proportions in the Gucci collection were just right this time and the pants were not as tight as they were in past collections,' said Neiman's McWilliams. Osborn said Neiman Marcus would likely boost its budget for the Italian collections this year, although he would not say by how much.

Richard Lambertson, creative director at Bergdorf Goodman, said that while the new skinny, flat-front pants will likely appeal more to younger customers, they will undoubtedly have an effect on overall men's wear trends.

'There is a change in the air and that change will be reflected throughout the market - even if it's in a minuscule way. Not everyone is going to wear the slim, flat-front pants, but a trend might be for more traditional pants to become three centimeters narrower. Slim seems to be where everything is headed and that trend will take us into the 21st century,' he said.

Lambertson said Bergdorf's was planning 'double-digit increases' in its Italian clothing budget this season. The store mill be renovated next month and the space devoted to men's wear will be expanded.

Buyers also raved about the Italians' marriage of formal clothing and sportswear. They said the designs they saw in Milan will help them convince customers there are fashionable options to the traditional suit and tie.

Stanley Tucker, vice-president and fashion director of Saks Fifth Avenue, said Armani did a superior job in mixing the two kinds of apparel. He pointed to the designer's mix of double-breasted pinstripe jackets with knitwear; zip-front sweaters and cardigans that looked like jackets.

'I don't think Armani thinks in terms of corporate casual. What he was doing, though, was forcing people to think about how different categories of clothes can work together,' Tucker said. 'Men want to be comfortable and Armani showed them that they can be comfortable in a suit.'

Rose Marie Bravo, president of Saks Fifth Avenue, said the seaming and cut of Armani's jackets were superior and that his clothing had an 'almost couture' detail. 'We will be buying more Armani this season - we always buy more Armani,' Bravo said.

Tucker said he liked Antonio Fusco's soft shirts and ties, and cashmere and tweed sport jackets. He said cardigan sweaters by Missoni, Dolce & Gabbana and Ferre stood out. 'This is going to be a cardigan year. The sweaters were in every collection and sometimes even worn as jackets,' he said.

Overcoats were another big trend and were able to straddle the line between formal clothing and casualwear. Gucci's dramatic, ankle-length coats with raised collars, Dolce & Gabbana's belted camel coats and slim leather numbers, Romeo Gigli's ground-sweeping chalkstripe coats and Versace's printed ponyskin coats all won praise.

'What we once thought of as traditional dress coats are becoming a piece of apparel that one could wear with sportswear, as a statement piece, said Joel Rath, president of the Canadian department store, Holt Renfrew & Co. 'They will be a dramatically important part of the wardrobe, worn as a statement piece. They're so beautiful, some men won't want to even take them off.'

Buyers gushed about camel - a color that appeared on every catwalk - and the fresh shots of bright tones in many of the collections. They talked about Versace's cherry-red chain metal evening pants, Moschino's knockout purple and green jackets and Gucci's white corduroy trousers. Another trend was velvet - in rich, dark jewel tones - which softened up almost every collection.

The darling of the week was Vivienne Westwood, who showed her first full men's wear collection, which will be produced by Italian-based manufacturer Staff International. The line was packed with bejeweled vests, tartans and what buyers called 'impeccable tailoring.'

More than one buyer gave a stiff thumbs-down to collections by Ferre, Valentino and Trussardi, saying they had no direction and were not in tune with the new slimmer, more fitted proportions. 'We get the feeling that Ferre and Valentino are not evolving with the other Milanese designers, that their shapes are overly constructed and their silhouettes too overbearing,' said one buyer.

Bloomingdale's Ruttenstein said tailoring was what made Milan shine this season. He said the store would increase its budget, particularly in light of four new openings in California in November, and would open Gianni Versace, Versus and Istante shops-in-shops in the flagship store.


Byline: Jason Wilde Wisconsin State Journal

MILWAUKEE -- While everyone else was talking, Ray Allen was dressing. He'd quietly slipped into his sunshine-yellow T-shirt and black leather trench coat and was ready to head for the door when, somewhat reluctantly, he finally joined the debate.

His coach, George Karl, and the other two-thirds of the Big Three -- Glenn Robinson and Sam Cassell -- had already weighed in with their opinions, classifying the Milwaukee Bucks' 89-82 win over Detroit Sunday afternoon at the Bradley Center as a big victory.

The notion had merit:

* The win was Milwaukee's third in a row after starting the month of February 2-5.

* It prevented the Bucks (32-22) from falling out of first place in the Central Division for the first time since mid-December.

* It came against the Pistons (31-23), who had forged a tie with the Bucks atop the division by winning 12 of their previous 14 games and five in a row.

'No doubt about it, it's a big win for us,' said Cassell, who led all scorers with 27 points. 'We were playing for first place in the Central. Now we've got control of first place -- like we should have.'

That was Allen's point. The last time the teams had met -- a 97-79 Bucks' victory at Detroit on Jan.21 -- the Bucks had improved to a season-high 13 games above .500 and held a seven-game lead on the Pistons. After that, the Pistons went 12-2 while the Bucks went 5-9.

'That's why I'm not jumping for joy thinking, We just beat Detroit!' Or, We've got first place now!' ' said Allen, who had 21 points and helped harass Pistons' scoring leader Jerry Stackhouse (19 points) into an 8-for-27 shooting performance.

'It was a big game in the sense that, everybody who's down there below us, we have to keep kicking them and make sure they stay down there. But we were supposed to win this game. We're a better team than that team. We just lost some terrible games where we weren't playing well.'

With 28 regular-season games remaining, the Bucks' challenge now is to sustain a high level entering the playoffs, which start April20.

'We've got 28 games to go, and because of the closeness of Detroit and some other teams, you're going to have big games,' said Karl, whose team has won three in a row for the first time since an eight-game winning streak from Jan.8 to 21.

'I know you want to just glide through the regular season and never play a big game except against the Lakers or someone else, but the truth of the matter is you learn how to play in the playoffs a little bit from how you play in the regular season. That's where you grow.'

Sunday was a positive step in that direction.

The Bucks trailed 15-8 early, but reeled off 16 of the game's next 20 points to take a 24-19 lead after one quarter and pushed the lead to as many as 15 by early in the third.

But because of some sloppiness with the ball by the Bucks (seven third-quarter turnovers) and a remarkable performance by Detroit's Ben Wallace (10 points, 17 rebounds and 10 blocked shots for his first career triple-double), the Pistons pulled to within 77-74 on a Corliss Williamson 3-pointer with 4 minutes, 56 seconds to play.

But the Bucks responded with some solid defense and by making 10 of 12 free throws in the final 4:11 to seal the win. Milwaukee now trails Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey by 5 1/2 games for the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

'Yeah, we took care of business, but it wasn't like, Whew, won the game, we're the better team.' Because we already knew that,' Allen said.

'At no point during the season have I looked at anybody in the Central Division and said, Who's behind us?' I've never worried about who's behind us, because worrying about what's behind you, you end up being behind. I worry about who's in front of us, who we need to catch.'

Detroit 19 19 25 19 -- 82

Milwaukee 24 23 24 18 -- 89

DETROIT -- Curry 0-2 2-2 2, C. Robinson 4-11 1-2 12, Wallace 5-7 0-2 10, Atkins 7-13 0-0 16, Stackhouse 8-27 3-3 19, Rebraca 0-4 2-2 2, Barry 2-9 1-1 6, Williamson 4-10 4-4 12, Jones 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 31-85 13-16 82.

MILWAUKEE -- Mason 4-10 2-3 10, G. Robinson 6-10 0-0 13, Przybilla 1-5 0-2 2, Allen 7-19 4-5 21, Cassell 9-14 7-8 27, Johnson 2-4 0-0 4, Thomas 3-9 0-0 7, Redd 1-7 1-2 3, Ham 1-3 0-2 2. Totals 34-81 14-22 89.

3-point goals -- D 7-25 (C. Robinson 3-6, Atkins 2-6, Jones 1-2, Barry 1-6, Stackhouse 0-5), M 7-16 (Allen 3-6, Cassell 2-5, G. Robinson 1-1, Thomas 1-3, Redd 0-1). Rebounds -- D 52 (Wallace 17), M 60 (Allen, Johnson 10). Assists -- D 22 (Stackhouse 6), M 18 (Allen 7). Total fouls -- D 22, M 20. Technical foul -- D coach Carlisle. Att. -- 18,717.

Bucks 89, Pistons 82

* Key: Milwaukee scores 10 of its final 12 points on free throws, including two by Sam Cassell with 16.9 seconds left to seal the win.

* Next: 7p.m. Tuesday, vs. Los Angeles Lakers, Bradley Center, TBS.


Associated Press

суббота, 6 октября 2012 г.

FUR AND FEATHERS //Stylish coats are warm armor against the cold - Chicago Sun-Times

((PHOTO CAPTION CONTINUED)) $113.95, at Eye Lab. Lorenzo Banif boots, $350, at Avventura.ABOVE RIGHT: Left, Lakeland's down filled coat, $225, Moessmercap, $32.50, Alexander Julian Thinsulate gloves, $25, private label scarf, $15, all at Lord & Taylor. Porsche Face Hugger sun glasses,$87.95, at Eye Lab. Musketeer boots, $445 at Avventura. Right,Private label down filled coat, $350, Misele En Scene woolgloves, $20, and matching scarf, $25, Supply Company earmuffs, $12,Kenneth Cole boots, $195, all at Nieman-Marcus. Porsche by Carrerasunglasses, $164.95, at Eye Lab. RIGHT: At left, Huc's tanshearling coat, $1,750, private label camel wool gloves, $20, NorthKing hat, $45, Zodiac boots, $120, all at Marshall Field's. RayBan Metals sun glasses, $72.65, at Eye Lab. Right, Lord & Taylorshearling coat, $805, private label gloves, $10, and hood, $8.95,all at Lord & Taylor. Bolle Irex sunglasses, $77.95, at Eye Lab.Specchio boots, $220, at Smyth Bros. LEFT: Left, GianfrancoFerre's alpaca-wool coat, $1,350, private label gloves, $56,Kenneth Cole boots, $165, all at Neiman-Marcus. Vaurnet Nautiluxsunglasses, $96.95, at Eye Lab. Right, Private label coat, $750,private label lambswool scarf, $65, North King hat, $45, all atField's. FAR LEFT: Private Label blue cotton denim double-breastedcoat lined in indigo dyed mink, $2,870, and blue fox earmuffs, $45,all at N.H. Rosenthal at Stanley Korshak. Private label scarf, $15,at Lord & Taylor. LEFT: Man's Invertere double-breasted khaki wooltwill coat, $580, Chester Jeffries brown hog-skin gloves, $75,private label plaid lambswool scarf $15, private label camel cap,$22.50, all at Mark Shale. Bass brown duck shoes, $40, at MarshallField's. ABOVE: Bill Blass down coat, $260; Adrienne Vittadinihood, $25; leather boots, $160; all at Marshall Field's. Privatelabel gloves, $15, at Mark Shale. Turtleneck, $17; Endless Roadtights, $49.99, at Morrie Mages Sports. Wayfarer sunglasses, $42.95,at Eye Lab. LEFT: Kenar's 'Russian Princess Coat' in crinkled silk,$276, at Forgotten Woman. Hatband Headwears headbands, $125, atN.H. Rosenthal at Stanley Korshak. Lurex glove liners, $5, at MorrieMages Sports. La Marcha boots, $410, at Smyth Bros. RIGHT: Left,private label shearling coat, $2,999; dyed fox muff, $699, at Carol& Irwin Ware Fur Salon at I. Magnin. Private label scarf, $65, atField's. EIR hood, $19.99; Lurex glove liners, $5, both at MorrieMages. Private label leather boots, $145, at Smyth Bros. Right,Polo by Ralph Lauren down filled coat , $275, private label scarf,$26.50, private label gloves, $15, at Mark Shale. Eir hood,$19.99, at Morrie Mages Sports. Deerskin 'Musketeer' boots, $445, atAvventura. ((CAPTION ENDS))

Old Man Winter is back and the National Weather Service sayshe's got a mean streak down his spine. Real mean.

Bully for you if you're ready to face his nasty temper - ortemperature. But what if you're not, and deep-freeze or nodeep-freeze, you don't want to look like Klondike Kate or Ken? Andwhat if you can't or for whatever reason don't want to shell out fora great-looking fur coat to keep you warm?

Most cold-weather gear made with modern technology'ssuper-duper insulations and coatings still looks about as interestingas a sink full of dirty dishes on New Year's morning. It's good forblizzards, when (1) staying dry is crucial to staying warm, (2) youcouldn't care less how you look and (3) you wouldn't go out in a finefur if you had one.

Blizzards are one thing. How you look the rest of the time whenit's bitter cold is what we're mainly talking about here.

Don't turn thumbs down on down because it got such a dirty namewhen an avalanche of dumb-looking coats flooded the market a fewyears ago. You just have to know your labels.

Bill Blass down coats and jackets for women this year lookpretty nifty in bright colors and interesting patterns such aspaisleys and scroll prints. Guys who think a down coat means lookinglike an Eskimo in a parka have something to learn. Ralph Lauren isdoing good-looking downs in his Polo line that are steps ahead ofstyles you'll find in sporting goods stores. A few smart retailersare picking up on winter's chief coat styles and having down versionsproduced with their own labels.

When it comes to warmth, nature's goose down beats anythingchemists have come up with. Just be sure the shell iswater-repellent in case you do get caught in a storm. If down getswet it will do you about as much good as getting caught out in yourunderwear.

Shearlings have come a long way since the days when you wouldn'tget near one unless you were a Montana rancher. In the past coupleof years, since big-shot designers started pushing them, they'vebecome major fashion items for men and women. They're super warm,look terrific and will last more years than you probably would careto wear them. Prices vary widely, usually from close to $3,000 forsome of the snazziest to around $800. Prorate the price over theyears the coat will last if you want to convince yourself what a gooddeal you're getting.

In recent years, fur-lined coats have become extremely popularfor men and women because you can get a lot of fashion and warm forconsiderably less than a fine fur would cost. The hot new shell,from private-label merchandise to top-price designer lines such asJames Galanos, is denim, often lined in mink or sable.

This year's cloth coats make a lot more sense for combatting thecold than those of several years ago because of their styling -roomier styles and longer lengths. Alpaca, which is very warm, isshowing up both in linings and toppings from top designer camps ondown to less expensive merchandise. The ample styles lend themselvesto the pile-and-peel theory: pile on the layers when you're headinginto the cold and peel them off when you get indoors.

пятница, 5 октября 2012 г.

Long coats blanket the market. (men's outerwear) - Daily News Record

NEW YORK -- After a two-year buildup, longer lengths are sweeping through the outerwear market like a tidal wave. In short, long is everywhere.

And retailers, who spend their lives figuring out what the next trend will be, can't seem to figure out why. The best attempt so far was given by a buyer for a large discount chain. 'The baby boom generation is getting older. And fatter. We want our butts covered.'

Whatever the reason, the changes have been evolutionary. The longer lengths add a whole new category to men's outerwear departments, and lend themselves to myriad possibilities, especially with leather outerwear.

There are four other directions: microfiber coats, toggles, three-in-one jackets and field/barn coats.

Microfiber, the expensive but soft-to-the-touch fabric, is showing up in almost all lines, from Free Country, a small outerwear firm, to Members Only, one of the biggest.

And the toggle, a real juggernaut of a trend last year, continues to gain momentum. Note that the younger brother of the toggle -- the all-metal fireman's closure -- is already proving itself a winner at hipper stores around the country. Whatever happened to zippers?

The new kid on the block for '92 is the three-in-one jacket. It's been around the ski market for some time, and Columbia is a pioneer in the movement into specialty and department stores. Even leather makers are churning out versions of three-in-ones -- and many are nice-looking, quality jackets.

One thing not to get snowed about, however, is that these jackets are somehow tied to a recessionary consumer buying cycle. The theory many makers are touting is that the guy who is strapped for cash will prefer a heavy wool jacket, a leather vest and a fleece pullver with one purchase to 'just a coat.'

Many of these coats look trendy enough to spur a fashion sale. But it's disingenuous to be selling a line by arguing that a guy who's been laid off is going to run to the nearest men's department and drop $100 on a fashion coat, which is really what these are. More likely he'll keep his old jacket, fear some buyers.

The field/barn jacket is another strong comer, cropping up in countless lines. They come in leather with rustic buttons, canvas with corduroy collars and patch pockets and, all canvas, etc. They're easy, understandable, and as a plus, they offer Southern markets about as much jacket as anyone there needs.

The danger here is that this style is starting to be footballed, which means something similar is almost guaranteed to show up at discounters or off-price stores across the country. And since the bottom tier of the market is upping its outerwear selection, these chances are even more likely.

Ditto for the bomber jacket, unless it's bought in a new lambskin, or with hardware that differentiates it, somehow, from the rest of the pack.

Those are the major trends. There are other good bets, such as sports licensed jackets, dusters, motorcycle jackets and baseball jackets. But these haven't yet build the sales clout or commanded the manufacturer attention they need to become sweeping, major trends.

Aside from fashion, one good thing, at least from a retailer's point of view, has been that prices have largely been kept down. Buyers estimated that some prices had come down as much as 4 percent.

'We really worked hard to maintain prices as close to last year as possible, even though prices in Korea have been going up,' said Mike Holzberg, vice-president of Excelled Sheepskin & Leather, echoing what many said.

Like a few others, Holzberg also had another observation about the outerwear business: 'We're starting to see a loosening-up in the markets, an end to feeling that the world is shortly coming to an end. We're planning big things for MAGIC. I hope some pent-up demand for coats will finally be released.'

Other makers express similar optimism for the show. 'A lot of the buying is done, and most of the major business is in for us,' said Jim Baum, vice-president at Aberdeen.

четверг, 4 октября 2012 г.

WAS THERE EVER DOUBT?(Sports) - Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - When it was over, when it was done, it was hard to remember that this was ever in doubt, that the Lakers' third NBA championship in a row was anything but inevitable.

Kobe Bryant was holding the Lawrence O'Brien trophy overhead on a platform at mid-court at the Meadowlands arena and flashing three fingers, and all those anxious moments in Sacramento the week before last were vanishing into the swamp gas. Shaquille O'Neal was being introduced by the commissioner as the most valuable player of the finals, and the pain in the toes that threatened to trip up an entire team was giving way to a pleasant champagne tingle. Derek Fisher was leading the charge onto the court at the buzzer, and Lindsey Hunter was riding piggy-back on Samaki Walker, and everybody in purple and gold was hugging, and the notion that Shaq and Kobe's supporting cast was somehow deficient was as good as forgotten.

The Lakers were outclassing the New Jersey Nets in the last eight minutes to win 113-107 on Wednesday night and complete a 4-0 sweep, and the inexcusable regular-season losses to the Atlantas and Denvers and Golden States of the pro basketball world were reduced to so many unread footnotes.

It was always going to end up this way, wasn't it? The Lakers doing post-game interviews wearing leather Technicolor dream coats with ``Three-peat'' spelled out across the chests. The fans of a vanquished host filing out of their arena while, on the public-address system, the Traveling Wilburys sang about ``the end of the line.''

``Three in a row is unbelievable,'' Rick Fox was saying in his three-peat jacket. ``One was great ... then we got two ... three, we sweep. Just unbelievable.''

And, yet, as the seconds since the final buzzer turned into minutes and headed toward an hour, ``unbelievable'' hardly seemed the right word.

The Lakers silenced the Eastern Conference-champion Nets, and by extension, all the questions about how they got here.

In Sacramento, the basketball fans will be talking forever about bad officiating and conspiracies and the 3-2 lead that got away - but everywhere else, they'll know the truth. This was always meant to be.

The Lakers' biggest problem along the way was that sometimes, in the middle of the long regular-season haul, they played like they knew it.

It's true, somewhere in the middle of January I wrote that the three-peat was not inevitable. At the buzzer here Wednesday night, that sheet of newsprint instantly yellowed, dried up, crumbled and blew away.

When it's all over in June, who remembers January?

The last game played out like the season.

A quick start. A slip, a slide. A crossroads in the middle. A push toward the end. A stumble. A resolute and decisive capper.

Down the stretch, there was Bryant scoring three consecutive Lakers baskets - a right baseline jumper, a moving jumper, an impossible driving lay-up - to take a 92-91 lead to 104-95.

There was Fisher hitting a 2-pointer from the right corner after making a pair of 3-pointers, topping off a series in which he made two-thirds of his shots from the arc, just in case you'd thought 2001 was a mirage.

There was Robert Horry with two more 3s, because what would a big Lakers game be without Big Game Rob?

There was O'Neal, unstoppable for the rest of the league, uncontainable for the Nets, leading all of the Lakers scorers with 34 points, retaking charge of the offense from Bryant in the playoffs' last five games.

There was another opposing star trying to stop a tidal wave, Kenyon Martin coming out on fire, scoring 17 points in the first quarter on his way to 35, and finding that it wasn't nearly enough.

There was another losing coach talking about how, darn if his team didn't lapse into ``confusion'' at key moments in the make-or-break minutes while the Lakers squinted and focused on the prize.

With 44.2 seconds on the clock and the Nets within two 3-pointers of a tie, coach Byron Scott pulled Martin and Jason Kidd to allow the 19,000 fans to give the stars of the local season a standing ovation. The game wasn't over. Except, it was.

Considering all they'd been through, at the end, it was too easy.

Careful readers of history's fine print in the decades ahead will discover that there were moments of uncertainty on the Lakers' way to title No. 3.

That's hard to think about after 4-0.


The 14 banners on the page represent the NBA championships won by the Lakers. The past nine titles were won in Los Angeles, the first five in Minneapolis.
















photo, box


Lakers guard Kobe Bryant hoists the NBA trophy after the Lakers victory over New Jersey in Game 4 of the NBA series.

John McCoy/Staff Photographer


среда, 3 октября 2012 г.


Byline: Jean E. Palmieri, with contributions by Jessica Pallay, Brenda Lloyd, Adam Tschorn, Julie Vargo, Deb Pahl

NEW YORK -- Fresh deliveries -- whether for summer or early fall -- helped give a lift to Father's Day business in the Northeast. Top sellers included sportswear such as Lacoste shirts, sport coats to wear with premium denim, and unusual accessories such as watches and cufflinks.

'We had a terrific Father's Day,' said David Fisher, Bloomingdale's executive vice-president and general merchandise manager of men's wear. 'Men's led the store the first three weeks of June.'

Fisher said the store 'had a terrific sportswear month,' led by Polo, which was up in the mid-double digits, Theory (both sportswear and tailored), premium denim, sport coats and tailored clothing from Abboud, Boss, Z Zegna, Ted Baker and Hugo Boss Red Label. Pants from the same vendors also performed well. Accessories and leather goods from Emporio Armani, Tumi, Prada Sport, Gucci and Dunhill were top performers, and the iPod business was 'insane,' he said. 'And I can't even tell you how many Lacoste units we sold.

'The only thing that was difficult were shirts and ties,' Fisher said, adding that the trend definitely appears to be shifting from the traditional gifts.

He noted that new fall receipts were 'checking,' especially Armani and Hugo Boss sportswear. As a result, he said he was 'very upbeat' about fall. 'We've shed the less differentiated businesses to focus on things like Theory, Ted Baker and Hugo Boss, and they're taking root. I'm tickled to death.'

Kevin Morrissey, executive vice-president and GMM of men's for Macy's East, was also pleased with sales over the holiday. 'In the past it was always shirts and ties, but this year it was a sportswear Father's Day,' he said. And business was helped by the 'really hot spell' of weather that struck the Northeast in the weeks preceding Father's Day, Morrissey added.

Among the top performers were private-label knits from Alfani and Club Room, along with sportswear from the 'traditional collections guys' such as Polo, Lacoste and Nautica. 'This is really the year of the polo knit,' he said. 'That was the key item for us and the gift that people bought this year.'

Promotions were less this year than in the past, he said, noting that he's optimistic about fall. 'But it's so much about weather. We'll just have to see.'

Cody Kondo, senior vice-president and GMM of men's for Saks Fifth Avenue, said sportswear collections from Varvatos, Zegna and Armani were among the top sellers for Father's Day. Pre-fall deliveries in particular connected with customers. Also popular were Lacoste shirts and dress shirts from Brioni, Ike Behar, Hugo Boss, Zegna and Armani.

Neckwear from Charvet was a 'clear winner,' he added, along with Armani and Brioni. A monogramming event in the New York store, where customers could have 'I love you, Dad' printed on the lining, also helped boost tie sales.

Blazers from Hugo Boss to Kiton are 'having an incredible season,' Kondo said, along with Ralph Lauren Purple Label sportswear.

Kondo also said he's upbeat about the prospects for fall. 'Pre-deliveries are selling with velocity, which is a good prelude to the season. That's a good thing.'

'Business was very, very good,' reported Margaret Spaniolo, senior vice-president and GMM of men's wear for Bergdorf Goodman. 'Traffic really intensified the week before Father's Day, and the weekend was really strong.'

Helping to spur sales, she acknowledged, was the start of Bergdorf's biannual sale. Among the top sellers were watches and cufflinks, including a $3,500 diamond skull set from Deacon & Francis, an English vendor that also did well with other unusual styles. Also performing were Hermes watches and neckties from the newly opened Hermes boutique. The store is also experiencing good early fall selling in dress shirts from Etro, and clothing from Zegna and Brioni.

Another standout was a blue-and-white summer delivery from Ralph Lauren. 'A lot of collections don't do summer deliveries, but it's great for buy-now, wear-now. The customer is shopping more often and wants to see something new.'

The strong Father's Day business gave Spaniolo optimism about fall. 'We've had four seasons of incredible growth and I don't see that changing,' she said. 'We were pretty aggressive about fall and we're getting a good early read. So we're very encouraged and positive.'

She did admit, however, that some indicators 'give us concern,' most notably the rising euro. 'There was a price increase for spring and another lofty one for fall. So that's the number-one thing that concerns me. But so far we haven't seen any resistance.'

Lou Amendola, vice-president of merchandising for Brooks Brothers, said this Father's Day was the strongest in at least three years. Traditionally, sales come one to two days before, but this year business was strong for at least two weeks prior to the holiday, he said. 'I was a little nervous because last year was strong, but we were up in the double digits,' Amendola reported.

Among the top sellers were dress shirts, which were up in the double digits, along with sportswear. Specifically, seersucker and madras shirts and fancy knits were strong, along with shorts. The only area that lagged behind was suits, he said.

Nevertheless, Amendola believes fall will be strong. 'Spring was good and the Father's Day boost was even better than the trend, so all signs look favorable. Our inventories are low and lean, so all the customer will be able to buy will be fall.'

Dads opening Father's Day gifts from Barneys New York likely received accessories, said Tom Kalenderian, executive vice-president and GMM of men's wear. Leather goods, both small and large, had strong sales, as did Barneys' vintage collection of cufflinks.

Neckwear also flew off the floor, he continued, thanks to a necktie-only mailer that replaced the traditional multi-classification Father's Day catalog this year. The mailer used an interactive presentation, Kalenderian explained, with tear-out pages to enable shoppers to mix and match ties to shirts. 'For the week leading into Father's Day, tie sales grew dramatically, and prior to that, they were not on a growth spurt,' he said, adding that the catalog items sold out. 'We've never done a tie mailer before, but it was a very successful venue and we will repeat it in the future.'

Kalenderian was surprised by a lesser interest in dress shirts. Also making a poor showing were belts, which had been strong all season.

By contrast, Barneys' sportswear business performed particularly well, due to a variety of new deliveries arriving just before the holiday. He singled out knitwear and sport shirts from Malo and Zegna as drivers, and also noted 'a nice spike' in his cashmere business. 'It's not where you would have assumed Father's Day business would go -- off the main floor,' he said, 'but the delivery was the key. We're buying more lines that offer a Father's Day delivery, and that's working for us.'

-- JEAN E. PALMIERI, with contributions by JESSICA PALLAY


ATLANTA -- With color and refined, dressier apparel driving sales, Southeastern men's wear retailers deemed Father's Day a success.

As Toni Browning, president and chief executive officer of the Proffitt's/McRae's division of Saks Incorporated, Alcoa, Tenn., said, 'Traditional and basics did not drive Father's Day this year. Color drove everything, and dress-up in finished, refined looks, continues to be good.'

Best sellers included polo knit shirts in a myriad of colors, colorful dress shirts and neckwear, short-sleeved woven shirts, and casual and dress pants. Retailers also said inventories are in good shape, which kept markdowns in line and helped margins and profitability.

Jeff Useforge, senior vice-president and GMM for men's, Proffitt's/ McRae's, said his best sellers were polo knits; moderate collections, especially Chaps, Columbia Sportswear and the private brand Consensus; casual pants by Dockers and Savane, and dress trousers by Claiborne Menswear. Sport coats, patterned bottoms, dress shirts and ties also sold. Green was the leading color in shirts and ties, followed by pink and orange.

Browning said Bernhard Altmann Attitude, made for the Saks Department Store Group by Neema, has sold exceptionally well. The big loser was shorts. Browning said special purchases, including a pocket tool that hooks on a keychain, helped bring in customers. 'We did not have to drive Father's Day through POS markdowns,' she said. She added that that business started 10 days out.

Steve Scott, president of Great Scott, Jackson, Miss., also found that Father's Day sales started 10 days out, rather than just on the weekend. His best sellers included Art of Shaving, long pants and shorts from Bills Khakis, Colonel Littleton leather-front pocket wallets and cell phone cases, and short-sleeved woven shirts by Scott Barber, Nat Nast, Zegna and Robert Talbott. 'Color was definitely big this spring from neckwear to wovens and knits,' he said.

Scott said sales for the Father's Day week were up 18 percent, and he took no markdowns.

Robert Goodfriend, chairman and CEO of Goody's Family Clothing, Knoxville, Tenn., said his men's sales were flat to slightly up, and Friday and Saturday were the biggest days. Polo shirts were the top sellers, followed by shorts in pleated, flat and cargo styles, T-shirts, swimsuits and dress-shirt-and-tie boxed sets. In young men's, top sellers were cargo shorts, polo knits and T-shirts.

Goodfriend said margins were slightly up in men's year-over-year, and that inventories are in good shape.

Larry Davidson, president of Davidsons, Roanoke, Va., said his two existing stores had flat sales versus last year, but that a new 1,400-square-foot store that opened at Smith Mountain Lake in May has exceeded expectations. And color is the spark. 'We've had to reorder linen in trousers and shorts -- the colors are bringing people right to it,' he said. Other best sellers are Tommy Bahama, Paul & Shark woven shirts, colorful silk belts, and seersucker suits, shorts and slacks.

David Rubenstein, president of Rubenstein's, New Orleans, was pleased with Father's Day. 'Business was phenomenal but it was Friday and Saturday -- last minute,' he said. Sales rose 8 percent for the week, bumping June sales up 3 to 5 percent for the month to date. He also had fewer markdowns than a year ago because inventories are a little lower, he said.

His best sellers included linen pants and shirts, and Oxxford and Zegna suits and sport coats.



LOS ANGELES -- Retailers on the West Coast were pleased with Father's Day business, noting strength in a variety of categories.

'Father's Day business was good -- ahead of last year and ahead of plan,' said Paul Fitzpatrick, executive vice-president and GMM of men's and children's wear at San Francisco-based Macy's West.

He cited collection sportswear as a top-performing category, with some strength in clothing as well. Popular brands leading into Dad's Day included I.N.C., Calvin Klein, Tommy Bahama, Polo, Claiborne, Lacoste and Tasso Elba. He said the weaker businesses were young men's and dress shirts. 'Overall [our] business is slightly better than the season-to-date trend, and we think that business can continue into fall.'

Scott Manson, GMM of men's for the Fresno, Calif.-based Gottschalks, was similarly upbeat about 2005's business. 'We're running slightly ahead of 2004 -- Father's Day week wasn't as strong as we'd anticipated, but we we're up 5 percent the previous week over last year. I'm pretty optimistic for the rest of the year, brands are strategized well and I think we've got a good fashion cycle going with this whole denim statement.' Manson singled out denim, outdoor and weekend wear as projected strong performers for the remainder of the year, mirroring the performance running up to Father's Day.

'We did a very strong Columbia and Woolrich business in the outdoor arena. Izod was outstanding, Perry Ellis was popular and our distressed denim category is performing well. The Caribbean Joe line had a strong Father's Day,' he said. Manson also noted that Hawaiian shirts -- 'not necessarily aloha shirts but ones with a more gentlemanly feel' -- were movers, as were silk shirts. Manson also saw strength in the dressier side of men's -- shirts, ties and suit separates, with one unexpected soft spot. 'The whole colored stripes thing wasn't as good as we'd anticipated,' he noted.

'As far as we're concerned, the striped shirt is pretty much ancient history,' said Butch Blum, co-owner of the two Seattle-based stores that bear his name. 'We've noticed that for a few months now.' Instead, Father's Day found Blum moving some of his early fall dress shirts, especially Zegna. 'But in terms of classifications, woven sport shirts were the best category for Father's Day.' He also noted an earlier-than-usual interest in leather, especially lightweight pieces. In addition, outerwear remains strong, and Blum said he's noticed a 'pretty significant drop-off' in casual trousers and bottoms in general (even in the popular five-pocket arena), as focus has stayed on tops.

Blum reported sales for Father's Day week up 26 percent over the same period last year. 'I hope it bodes well [for the rest of the year].'

Scott Norris, GMM of The Men's Wearhouse, said the company was 'happy with the way things are going and we're hopeful for fall.' He said flat-front, side-vent suits had been successful leading up to Father's Day, along with suit separates and sport coats. 'We have some washed-silk coats that have been particularly strong,' he said. 'Our woven sportswear business is good,' adding that the downturn in the stripes felt by other retailers had not reached MW. 'Our total woven business has been good and the knit business has also made a slight comeback.' Norris said sportswear's popular colors included 'brick and variations of blue.'

The color palette was considerably wider at Sy Devore Menswear in Studio City, Calif. 'It's been pink, mint [green], a little yellow, lots of blue, red and purple,' said vice-president Danny Marsh. 'For dress shirts it's been any strong, saturated color -- Thomas Pink-colored pinks and peaches have been phenomenal.'

Sy Devore's sales in the run up to Father's Day also ran counter to the trend toward dressier fare. 'It was jeans and T-shirts,' said Marsh, though T-shirts in the $80 to $100 range from Ed Hardy Tattoo Wear, Kowboys, Trunk Ltd. and James Perse also did well. 'In jeans it was True Religion, 7 For All Mankind and a little bit of Agave. I couldn't get True and 7 in fast enough.' He's also sold 'a ton of sport coats' in the $500 to $1,000 range, 'especially denim-inspired sport coats, the kind that can be paired with the T-shirt and jeans,' he said. Dress shirts and neckwear having been selling well, while woven sport shirts have slowed.

For the year to date, he's pleased. 'We haven't had our usual spring sale yet and we're up 32 percent for the year.' Though he thinks it is unlikely that level will continue for the remainder of 2005, 'I think we'll see sales at 15, 18 or even 20 percent over last year.'



DALLAS -- The saying 'everything old is new again'definitely applies to Father's Day in the Southwest as the necktie -- that proverbial FD standby -- charged back onto the forefront as the must-give gift.

'Ties are back,' observed Clark McNaught, divisional vice-president and DMM of men's accessories and furnishings for J.C. Penney. 'They are now trend-right, and as such, make great gifts for dads that are trying to update their wardrobe. Our tie sales for Father's Day were very strong -- in fact, stronger than last year.'

In addition, dad unwrapped a slew of sportswear, bolstering the bottom line of both department and specialty stores in the Southwest.

Overall, sales were strong at Plano, Texas-based Penney's. 'Father's Day sales were strong, led by sportswear for the first time in a couple of years,' said McNaught. 'Father's Day is a very important gift-giving period for J.C. Penney. It helps us to continue to connect emotionally with our customers, both male and female, through the gifting process, and Father's Day gives us a way to test new ideas for other gift-giving holidays.'

Customers also scooped up snappy neckwear at specialty retailers. 'The tie came on strong this season, as did our socks and woven shirts,' said Kory Helfman of Ken's Man's Shop, a men's specialty store in tony north Dallas. 'We had a great clothing season as well, and we are going into our sale with the lowest inventory ever.'

Although ties, shirts and socks -- particularly those from Ovadafut -- held their own, Father's Day for Helfman's customers was more outfit-driven than item-oriented. 'We had ladies coming into the store buying the whole look -- shorts, sandals, a great belt and a polo shirt, or jeans, belt and great woven shirt -- something their husbands might not normally buy themselves.'

Bucking the tie-as-top-gift trend, was Paul Rainwater, owner of Rainwater's Clothing in Fort Smith, Ark. 'We sold a lot of Tommy Bahama and those type of tropical silk looks,' the retailer said. 'We also did great business in T-shirts, resortwear and summer styles,' said Rainwater, whose business is up 8 to 9 percent year-to-date. 'We have found that if a family is buying one item for a Father's Day gift this year, it was usually a sport shirt. We even had one gentleman buy five $110 shirts to go on vacation.'

Rainwater has also seen strong sales in Jack of Spades stretch jeans for men. 'These jeans retail at $120 and we fly through them,' he said. 'This is our 31st year in business. We've been a traditional dress clothing store, but we are realizing we have to keep up with the times, and our customer is really responding to items like these.'



CHICAGO -- It used to be a man could expect to get at least one tie for Father's Day. Not anymore. In fact, apparel in general seems to be on the downswing as sporting good retailers and home stores make strong inroads when it comes to the ideal gift for dad.

'Frankly, Father's Day isn't what it used to be,' said Rick Stern, owner of Straus Clothing Co., Fargo, N.D. 'Sporting goods and hardware stores are the places to go.'

To counteract this, retailers across the Midwest looked to promotional events to help draw customers. Stern even turned to a rather unexpected market -- kids 12 and under. 'We actually brought back a promotion, our `Draw Your Dad' contest. Kids brought in pictures they drew of their dad and we had an artist judge them. First place was a $100 gift certificate,' he said. 'Plus we sent everyone who entered an honorable-mention $10 gift certificate. We'll see if it translates into future sales.'

Another store choosing to go the promotional route was Harleys in Milwaukee. The store joined forces with the Italian Trade Commission for a three-day event that highlighted Italian manufacturers and drew customers into the store with an appetizing mix of Italian food, wine and pastries.

'Our `Italian Dressing' event really helped stimulate traffic -- we had a very active Father's Day week,' said Tim Ryan, owner of Harleys. 'Plus, weather has been a benefit. We had a very cool spring, but June's been warmer than average, so it compressed the season. We saw a lot of pent-up shoppers who were out there ready to spend.'

Sportswear led the way, with knits and patterned shirts popular among gift-givers. The first taste of true summer temperatures also brought out the demand for shorts.

'Tops from Gran Sasso were strong and Jhane Barnes did well across the board,' said Ryan. 'And color was important. We have a bright, citrusy color palette that's been popular with our customers. And most men look good in bright colors, so why shouldn't they embrace it?'

Straus also saw its Father's Day sales dominated by sportswear, at least for those on the giving end. Men shopping for themselves gravitated toward jackets.

'Cutter & Buck knit shirts and patterned cotton shirts did well. And Tommy Bahama is always good for us,' said Stern. 'On the non-gift side, we did really well with silk sport coats by Neema. And an unconstructed cotton blazer from Tulliano has been great for us. We've already had several reorders on it.'

John Lindley, owner of Lindley Clothing Stores in Omaha, Neb, also saw strong sportswear sales, even while steering clear of promotions. 'We don't usually get promotional until the beginning of July. We'd rather advertise the things we offer -- like free gift wrap and tailoring,' he said. 'People seem to appreciate the extras.'


вторник, 2 октября 2012 г.

Men's specialty stores see leather rebound for fall. (leather outerwear sales) - Daily News Record

NEW YORK -- Men's specialty store executives expect this fall to be a better season for better leather outerwear.

Many shop owners say that after a couple of boom years, fall '93 marked somewhat of a slowdown in leather. This, they report, reflects the consumers' desire to get some wear out of their previous purchases before buying new items. Additionally, the cloth outerwear category attracted so much attention last fall that leather suffered at its expense, they claimed.

That brings retailers to the fall '94 selling season, which they say should benefit from classics in smooth lamb and new styles in worn, rugged skins.

At Silhouette, which has four stores in the Washington, D.C., area, owner Alain Chetrit said about 75 percent of his leather outerwear open-to-buy is in place. He said he's left some room to make purchases at the beginning of the season.

'As far as fashions for this coming season, I like the nubby lamb and shearlings,' Chetrit said. 'And I'm a big believer that the B-3 [bomber] shearling model is important for casual dressing. I started noticing that piece a lot in Europe last year and I thought I should have it here. I think it will be great here.'

Chetrit said that leather outerwear comprises about half of his total outerwear business in dollars.

'Leather was not as good for me last year as the previous year, so I think there could be a resurgence now,' he predicted. 'It's cyclical. We go through a couple of good seasons then we have to give people a chance to wear what they bought and then they come out again.'

The leather selection at the Silhouette stores, which will range from $395 to $1,000, will include an unconstructed blazer in chocolate-brown suede from Hugo Boss, retailing for about $750, and a B-3 bomber from Schott. Said Chetrit of his choices: 'I feel the blazer is a longer silhouette that could be a sport coat or dressier outdoor piece. As for the B-3, I started with Schott in our jeans store and I think it is the most authentic looking B-3 I saw, so I chose the most authentic manufacturer.'

At New York's Camouflage store, partner Gene Chace said he's very excited about this fall.

'Leathers were a bust last year -- cloth coats were the thing,' he stated. 'But I think the business will be stronger this fall, because there's some nice new shapes around.'

Chace, who's placed all his leather orders for fall, said that while the three-quarter shape is 'really the deal,' it's the distressed or worn treatment that will be important to consumers this fall. 'The texture and finish is key, because it makes the piece look like your old favorite jacket fight off the rack,' he said.

Camouflage's leather outerwear offerings will retail from about $300 to $800. Labels include Golden Bear for its consistent sales, New Republic for its retro styling and, as one of the store's new resources this season, Ufuk Arkun.

At Threads, a men's apparel store located in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., owner Nancy Amoroso said she's placed most of her fall leather orders.

'But I haven't placed all of them because last year was not a good leather season,' Amoroso said. 'Had the January/February leather sales taken place in November and December, we wouldn't have had any in stock. But the change in season didn't happen fast enough. So this year we bought more lightweight and shorter leather jackets for early in the season. But we also bought some heavier pieces and shearling, in the hopes that the weather will take off earlier this year.'

The Threads assortment will include leathers with removable liners, and fashion pieces from Victor/Victoria, Scarab and DKNY. The styles, which will retail from about the mid-$400s to more than $1,000, will emphasize versatility, she said. 'They're pieces that guys can put on and not wait until it's freezing cold outside. They're less gimmicky and more in the way of classic.'

At F.R. Tripler, the leather business was quite good last year, according to Richard Press, president. So, he said, the store will continue with the items that meant business last year.

'We will continue to carry both short aviator lengths and longer topcoats for city or country walking wear,' he said. 'Both of those have been very popular with us. And leather in general seems to be on the upturn.'

Press said he's banking on leathers in the brown family to sell best. His assortment includes both private label and better brands, which he declined to identify. But price points, he did mention, will range from the mid-$400s to about $1,000.

понедельник, 1 октября 2012 г.

West Coast business just keeps rolling; jog suits to sport coats continue selling. - Daily News Record

LOS ANGELES--Business on the West Coast maintained its momentum in the second week of the holiday season, with items that sold well in the first week after Thanksgiving continuing their strong showing.

Heavyweight shirts in flannels, acrylics and fleece were big sellers in the young men's area along with hooded tops, said Gary Gladding, executive vice-president of merchandising for Fresno-based Gottschalks.

'The tops business continues to perform well with the highlights in the heavier-weight fabrics, denim and some silks,' and Gladding.

'Jog suits have also been a big seller during the holidays, along with sport coats,' he added. The only real disappointment seems to be in the neckwear category, where Gladding said it's been a struggle to generate business.

'Overall, we're looking for men's to show increases in the high single to low double digits over last year. If the traffic keeps up as it has been so far, we will be happy,' he said.

Wilkes Bashford, owner of the San Francisco-based store of the same name, said holiday buying just keeps rolling along. 'We haven't seen any signs of it slowing down,' he said. 'Sport coats, especially Zegna Soft, continue to sell well, as are cashmere sweaters, which we're almost sold out of,' he said.

Neckwear is doing very well for the holidays, according to Bashford. 'The neckwear business is execellent. We had some late November deliveries that have helped our inventory,' he said.

December business was so good last year that Bashford said he will be happy with a slight increase this year.

Ron Herman, owner of Los Angeles-based Fred Segal, said most of his customers haven't really started to do their holiday shopping yet. 'Our customer doesn't reall shop ahead. We're experiencing good traffic currently, but I wouldn't attribute it to holiday gift shopping,' he said.

Because Fred Segal caters to a largely celebrity clientele, a lot of the holiday business that has been done is over the phone. 'We have customers that call us about their friends and ask us ot pick some items out that we think that they would like for a holiday gift,' said Herman.

Gary Ross, owner of Raffles in Encino, said: 'Our business is steady and we're expecting it to end up over last year, but it will really depend on the weather. It has been so warm-lately that it doesn't really put people in the holiday mood. But people are, however, a lot more positive in their shopping attitudes than last year, price isn't a problem and people do seem to be more confident in their purchases overall.'

Leather and suede jackets, along with flannel, corduroy and plaid shirts, continue to be top sellers. The neckwear business is a little off, according to Ross, but sport shirts and sport coats are performing nicely.

Jerry Rutledge, owner of Colorado Springs-based Rutledge's, is optimistic about holiday business. 'We had a huge 26th anniversity sale at this time last year, so it's going to be hard to beat those numbers, but it looks like we're going to come close,' he said.