MEN’S WEAR DESIGNERS of America: Uncle Sam wants you — for New York Men’s Week this summer.

Though the calendar is strafed with sequential and ever-lengthening international fashion weeks, American designers are agitating for a men’s week of their own. Though the idea has been percolating for some time, it has gained momentum in recent weeks as sponsors have signed on. Men’s designers received emails from representatives of the Council of Fashion Designers of America in October gauging interest.

To hear its supporters tell it, creating a midsummer presentation of men’s shows is nothing less than a point of national pride.

“Everybody has a connection to it,” said Steven Kolb, the chief executive of the C.F.D.A., who is spearheading the effort, “because of the patriotism of it all, as American designers.”

The proposed week would fall, patriotically enough though not expressly for that reason, not long after the Fourth of July.

At New York Fashion Week, held in February and September, the men’s collections tend to languish in the shadow of the women’s. Many established men’s designers have decamped to fashion weeks abroad.

“New York has such strong men’s wear designers at this point, but I think what happens in New York is that your business gets to a certain point and then you feel compelled to show in Europe,” said Daniel Silver, the co-designer of Duckie Brown.

The reason for this is partly logistical. The selling season for spring men’s wear, when buyers see collections and place orders, occurs over the summer, just after the European men’s wear shows in London, Milan and Paris. New York designers and labels including Calvin Klein Collection, John Varvatos, Thom Browne and Phillip Lim have moved their shows to Europe to close the gap between showing and selling.

“One of the biggest puzzles in the industry is why we’re showing men’s wear on the runway three months after we’ve bought it,” said Kevin Harter, the vice president of fashion direction for men at Bloomingdale’s.

The burden falls disproportionately on emerging designers, who may not have the resources to sell their collection early.

“We have a great pool of young talent in America,” said Jim Moore, the creative director of GQ. “That’s something you don’t have in a lot of places. It seems to be the land of opportunity.”

But by September, Mr. Harter said, the New York collections have “almost become an afterthought, because your budgets have already been spent by then.”

Between the megabrands that head to Europe and the smaller ones that stay in New York are midcareer designers like Michael Bastian, who holds sales appointments with buyers in June in Milan but stages a runway show in New York in September.

“Theoretically we could be showing in Milan,” he said. “I just never felt comfortable showing anywhere but America. We’re an American brand.”

Stumbling blocks persist. One is creating a strong enough lineup to draw international press and buyers to New York. The possibility of a New York event is testing the American spirit of the brands born and bred in the United States that have migrated elsewhere to show, or elected not to show at all.

Large labels, including Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren (which has not produced a men’s wear show in recent years) and Tommy Hilfiger (which has shown intermittently) declined to comment on whether they would join a New York men’s week. A representative for John Varvatos did not respond to requests for comment.

Another hurdle is sponsorship dollars, to defray costs of sites and production. Three sponsors have committed thus far, but at least one more is needed to meet a proposed budget of $2 million.

Mr. Kolb said that creating a stand-alone men’s showcase would have historic significance.

“When I look at the things that C.F.D.A. has been able to accomplish over the last number of years, we’ve changed the organization in a big way,” he said, citing the acquisition of the 65-year-old Fashion Calendar in July as a highlight. “If we were able to pull off men’s and do it right, it would have that same kind of stature.”

But time is running out. Mr. Kolb said that if enough sponsorship to cover the budget is not confirmed by the beginning of the new year, the July shows, in discussion for over a year, would be scuttled and a men’s event once again postponed.

It is perhaps especially frustrating that London has managed to create exactly the sort of event the C.F.D.A. is attempting. In 2012, the British Fashion Council moved its men’s wear from a single day at the end of London Fashion Week to the four-day London Collections: Men and quickly found success, first in press, then in sales.

“What a huge deal this would be if he could pull this off,” Mr. Bastian said. “It would really validate all of American fashion, in a way, to figure this out.”

Source: New York Times

Image Credit: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images