Did Nautica’s Black Sail Fall 2014 collection finally find its identity? I’m kicking off my menswear week coverage with one of my career alma maters.
For many years, Nautica did not seem to know where it wanted to be in the market place after VF Corporation took the brand over from David Chu. While I was employed there, there were efforts to make it preppy and sophisticated. It dabbled in the more urban aesthetic towards what their expensive (but inconclusive) market research told them. Should the brand stay true the nautical theme? Did it really boil down to Father’s Day promotions at Federated owned department stores?
Their fall 2014 collection might have found their way. Branding the show under the “Black Sail” heading was smart in signaling a different intention without alienating the traditional buyers. The outerwear offerings, one of the brand’s strongest products, had a great lineup of high-tech puffers. Even working with the design team, I always loved all their little details, functional and design alike. The fur collars had a bit of luxury, the sleek surfaces gave the fabrics more of an edge. There were a lot of cozy knits, a category that was always under promoted for Nautica. They had a good balance of sporty and outdoors-influenced looks (the frozen forest prints rocks). The slimmer fits of the tops and pants worked well for the city guy who works for the weekend.
I love the diverse model casting; Design director Christopher Cox always had a good eye for models. I remember in the early days, the merchandisers always observed that the bestselling colors for the masses were red, navy and yellow. It doesn’t sound very sophisticated, and the majority of those dollars might have come from the off-price channels. However, those colors were worked into the fall 2014 show in a sophisticated way in richer, darker hues and better fabrics in pop colors.
Here’s to Ms. Fabulous giving a shout-out to my peeps. You all deserve a bonus.