Window Shopping

Eric Jennings of Saks Fifth Avenue heralds the return of the sport coat and the fashion phenomenon known as the ‘restaurant top’

Eric Jennings is a man who wears many different hats. As vice president and men’s fashion director for Saks Fifth Avenue, it is his job to gauge what consumers want and to make sure the merchandise available at stores reflects this. When he recently paid a visit to our local branch, inside Fashion Show, he was pleasantly surprised, saying the Las Vegas store exemplifies the principles under which the retailer is operating nationwide.

“Over the last year our priority has been right-sizing the business and the inventory for the demand,” he says. “We have been training our customers. If you see something you love, you have to get it now or it might not be there. We now find the items that we are passionate about and bring in merchandise that fills a void in our matrix. Testing things because we could is in our past.”

Saks adds and subtracts brands with precision every season, knowing even in advance of buying trends what will be the hot jean or tie color for the season, Jennings says.

“Particularly hot right now is the Gant by Michael Bastian collection. We believed in this from the get-go and it is paying off,” he says. “Hot for spring will be the return of the sport coat as well as cardigans and leather shoes. For several seasons, it has been all about the dressed-up sneaker and now it’s about the hybrid dress shoe, sport shoe.”

As for Las Vegas, Jennings made several astute fashion observations while he was in town; the first being how and why men wear suits, and the second, an unavoidable consumer trend.

“One of the things I learned out in Las Vegas is a lot of men don’t wear suits Monday through Friday, but they do wear suits,” he says. “Oh, and men here seem to really like the ‘restaurant top,’ as I call it—those very flamboyant embroidered dress shirts with contrasting cuffs and collars that gentlemen wear out to ‘restaurants.’ It is an item that seems to really resonate.”

Eric’s Fashion Forecast

Jennings lists these ‘big brands’ among this favorites:

Hugo Boss. A powerhouse with a great name and great fashion at a great value.

Burberry. Taking the world by storm.

Michael Kors. Great fashion at accessible price points.

And he says to watch out for these rising stars:

Simon Spur. British sensibility with a New York attitude.

Neil Barrett. A designer with a bright future ahead of him.

Rag & Bone. A really cool brand, and it is great to see how their collection has grown.

From left: Polo Ralph Lauren Black Label, Marc Jacobs and Z Zegna. Available at Saks Fifth Avenue.