The list of 2013's CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists was released last week. And like every year, there were a few expected-but-respectable choices (Veronica Beard, Public School), a few pleasant surprises (Tome, Ovadia & Sons), and a few exciting out of left field-ers (Parabellum, Juan Carlos Obando). But the most striking thing about this group of designers is that nearly half of them are focused on menswear. (Some, like Los Angeles-based accessories brand Parabellum, do both.)
It's not a particularly surprising figure, when you think about it. Menswear is a thriving—and growing—sector of the fashion industry. The global menswear market will reach $402 billion in 2014—a 14% jump over five years—according to research firm MarketLine. One doesn't need to look further than high-publicized trade shows like Pitti Uomo and Capsule, websites like A Continuous Lean, Four Pins, and even standard pubs like Esquire and GQ to see that there's a renewed interest in men's fashion. (For more on this exhausted topic, read "The Fuck Yeah Menswear Guys Explain the Whole #Menswear Thing to Us," and "Decoding #Menswear: A Handy Guide To Understanding What the Hell Men’s Style Blogs Are Talking About.")
Of course, the Council of Fashion Designers of America is not just an organization for designers of womenswear. But still, the number of guy-focused collections in the running says something about the state of American fashion. In the nine years of the Fashion Fund's existence, not one pure-menswear designer has ever won the top prize. (The winners, in order of year from 2004: Proenza Schouler, Trovata, Doo-Ri Chung, Rogan Gregory, Alexander Wang, Sophie Theallet, Joseph Altuzarra, Billy Reid and The Elder Statesmen.) Billy Reid, of course, is best known for menswear, but he's been designing womenswear for years as well. Same with Trovata and Rogan.
The CFDA, for one, would rather not address the matter of menswear v. womenswear. "We are thrilled with all 10 finalists and very much looking forward to watching them over the coming months," a spokesperson said. "I'm afraid I do not have an answer to your specific question."
Fair enough. But given the percentage of menswear brand's in this year's competition, I'd say the odds are in the guys' favor.