Men's fashion week kicked off in New York on Monday for a second season, playing catch up after chic shows in London, Milan and Paris.
Still in its infancy, the fall/winter 2016 season is already a step up from the spring/summer 2016 men's fashion week debut that graced New York last July.
There are 60 shows compared to 51, and nearly double the number of media accreditation requests -- 800 up from 500. Although it's called a week, the shows are spread across four days and concentrated in Manhattan's west Soho.
It will also whet appetites for the style explosion and buyers' bonanza that is New York fashion week for women -- the main event -- due to begin February 11.
"The success of the inaugural 'New York Fashion Week: Men's' surpassed our expectations," Steven Kolb head of the Council of Fashion Designers of America told AFP in an email interview.
Bruce Pask, men's fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, said the first week was well attended by US and New York-based retailers and journalists, as well as "great support and attendance from the international menswear community."
But there is a long way to go. One of America's most celebrated designers, Ralph Lauren, chose instead to unveil his high-end Purple Label in Milan last month. Calvin Klein will show only a capsule collection of evening wear.
"We are only in our second season so we still need to prove that what we are doing is worth the attention of journalists and retailers," said Kolb. He said the response from within the United States was strong from the beginning but that he would "like to see the international attendance grow."
If the schedule over the next four days is not as chic as Paris or Milan, it does not lack panache. Among the big names are Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, Theory and John Varvatos, lured last July from Milan.
Riding the wave of trendy street wear, a new generation of designers will compete for the attentions of fashion editors and bloggers on the lookout for new icons of cool -- among them Californian label Stampd, which won GQ's prize for best new men's wear designer in 2015.
Others to look out for are Greg Lauren the nephew of Ralph, Siki Im and its art installations, Gypsy Sport, winner of the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund prize in 2015, Robert Geller, suit specialist Joseph Abboud, Uri Minkoff, brother of designer Rebecca and Californian labels Second/Layer and Jeffrey Rudes.
"It's exciting to get a platform for all of us here," said David Hart, a designer with his eponymous label who said his collection is inspired by the Jazz age.
"There are a lot of exciting things happening for men," he said in a packed and overheated room close to his models posing with a saxophone and trumpet in hand. "It's getting bigger and bigger!"
Among those absent are the highly regarded Thom Browne, who is staying in Paris, Rag and Bone, which will unveil a men and women's show on February 15, and Michael Bastian, the long-time champion of men's fashion week. This time he will instead organize a private shoot in his studio, his team said.
Experts say there's nothing surprising in that, given the scheduling conflict that this season's men's fashion week presents: sandwiched between the European shows in January and New York's main fashion week for women.
"That is a bit unfortunate in terms of timing," said Vincenzo Gatto, a men's fashion expert who teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
January would be too close to the shows in Europe. But in early February, retail clients outside the New York metropolitan area are generally back home in Florida, the Mid West and California, Gatto said.
But he said the concept itself was great. "Otherwise it gets lost," he told AFP. "It's good for retail, for innovation." (Prune Perromat, AFP)