Sharon Hecht
Fashion Merchandising Management ’07

SHARON HECHT is loving menswear. As the senior merchandise manager at Original Penguin, a division of Perry Ellis International, she supervises a team of five and oversees global merchandising and product development for the playful menswear brand. Having worked on women’s wear for Calvin Klein Underwear and on accessories for Coach, she knows menswear is where she wants to be. “I remember thinking at Calvin, why is men’s so fun, and why is women’s so complicated?” Hecht says. “Sometimes men are more drama-free, and that carries over when you’re creating products to wear.” Hecht offers her thoughts on what’s happening now in menswear.

Smarter shoppers. “The American male customer is becoming more of a fashionista,” Hecht says. “This is not just an urban thing—it’s happening in most markets in the U.S.” A more stylish customer lets designers make more colorful, trendier pieces. On the flip side, prices need to represent a good value, because this shopper knows when he’s being overcharged.

Less is more. When Hecht arrived at Penguin, she worked closely with her design and sales teams to determine that the number of products they offered could be significantly decreased while still growing their market share. Reducing the number of SKUs created a more focused collection that appealed to the company’s global audience, and it increased profit margins.​​ After she trimmed the holiday product line last year by 20 percent, profits at the company rose almost 3 percent for the whole year. For 2016, she’s reducing it even further.

The rise of “athleisure.” Hecht sees the merging of athletic and leisure clothing as the most important trend hitting the men’s market now. Men want to be able to wear the same sporty performance gear to work, to the gym, and on weekends. “Is it casual? Is it dressy? Now it’s somewhere in between,” she says.

Featured Image: P55 is Original Penguin’s core assortment, rooted in vintage and Americana, that hasn’t strayed far from the brand’s origins in the Midwest in 1955.