FASHION : Herman Walks Away With It Once Again

There were few surprises at the California Mart’s seventh annual Marty retailer awards and holiday fashion show Monday night. Ron Herman of Fred Segal Melrose walked away with the best retailing award for the second consecutive year and for the third time in the show’s 7-year history.

The highlight and culmination of the evening came when Herman, whose Fred Segal store has become something of an institution in the 20 years it has stood at the corner of Melrose Avenue and Crescent Heights Boulevard in West Hollywood, accepted his much-deserved award. He credited the store’s success and visibility over the years to maintaining a simple philosophy--"jeans are the basis of everything"--and to risk-taking, even in the most cautious of times.

Explains the Risk

“People always say to me, ‘You can get away with that because you’re Fred Segal,’ ” Herman explained of the intrigue that has always surrounded the store. “But I say, ‘we’re Fred Segal just because we do that.’ ”


And, despite its large size (Herman is currently in the process of adding a 9,000-square-foot second story to the building) and reputation for catering to celebrities, Herman still likes to view the red, white and blue landmark as a “Ma and Pa operation,” where alterations are free, the warehouse is still on the premises and a welcome mat greets its customers as they walk through the door.

The list of nominees for this year’s award, chosen for their significant retail achievements included: Arthur Banchero for Bonny & Gordon Store for Men in Sacramento, Doug Burnett and Larry Ober for Larry Douglas Ltd. Inc. in Anaheim, Marvin Chanin for Chanin’s in Los Angeles, Gary Cohen for Buffalo in Tarzana, Millard Drexler for the Gap Inc. in San Bruno, Kenneth Fasola and Elaine Kim for ECRU in Los Angeles and Douglas Swerland for Jay Jacobs Inc. in Seattle.

A holiday fashion show rounded out the evening, held in conjunction with the California International Menswear Market. The show featured 37 West Coast collections. Colors were sedate, with black, white and gray dominating holiday dress-up looks. Neutrals, especially brown, olive drab, taupe and navy, made up the palette for more casual sportswear.

The bright spots came from color accents--turquoise, plum, orange and red, featured primarily in cardigan and crew neck sweaters. Other sweaters were a blast of colorful Aztec and Southwest prints. Boldly patterned shirts, reminiscent of the ‘70s, were worn with bolo ties.

Dress-Up Looks

Some romantic, dress-up looks were the highlight of the show. Babylon Bus’ high-waisted velvet pants, pleated and embroidered shirts, scrolled vests and cutaway coats were a standout, if too flamboyant for the typical male customer. Joe Dahun’s shirts, one with a ruffle front, one with pleated balloon sleeves, received high marks for innovation and excitement.

Some novelty looks took their cue from recent women’s wear collections. Joe Boxer’s bold polka-dot tops over wide-stripe pants, Axis’ huge dot velveteen blouson jacket and Pazzo’s mini-dot shorts and tops captured the spirit of the holiday season.

Blouson jackets and shorter waistcoats paired with both casual slacks and walking shorts were seen throughout these holiday collections. While many men might need some convincing to wear it, this fast-forward silhouette seems here to stay.