Capsule Fashion Trade Show at the Palazzo Ballroom, Venetian, Las Vegas.

Story by Kathleen Gasperini
Photos by Tom Wallace

(capsule) Fashion Trade Show which took place at the Palazzo Ballroom at the Venetian in Las Vegas, February 16-17, turned out to be a refreshing experience compared with many other shows this season. From the brands that were chosen to exhibit, to the design of the ballroom, and the buyers who walked the show, (capsule)
is continually attracting brands seeking a different type of crossover buyer. Created by the collective BPMW based in New York (with a showroom in Los Angeles), over the last few years, (capsule) has become very popular in New York City and even added on a second venue this year at the Puck building. They are growing in Paris, as well as their main show in Las Vegas, which overall represents the new, more intimate directions of fashion trade shows in general.

For example, former so-called streetwear brands such as Mishka, The Hundreds, and Freshjive (who have completely re-defined themselves out of streetwear altogether) have all chosen (capsule) as their new home this year. Brands formerly from Pool such as De Nada from D.C. and their knitted scarves, hoods, and gloves, and leading-edge apparel designers SkinGraft Designs from LA, both moved over to (capsule).

Busy Creative Recreation booth–this is one footwear brand that has successfully crossed over from street to designer footwear.

(capsule) is designed in a way that lets the brands speak for themselves based on their collections solely because of minimal booth set-ups consisting of roller racks, bare-wood displays and tables. Basically, you can walk around and see the entire landscape of the show, which remains open and friendly.

Like Project and parts of MAGIC, many of the brands at (capsule) from the street side of things are moving upper-end and more designer-oriented as they seek out a different kind of boutique buyer. For example, footwear brand Creative Recreation, whose booth was again packed at this show, chose (capsule) as the location to launch Creative Recreation Select which is their women’s collection.

Creative Recreation debuted their Select footwear for women at Capsule.

We also thought there was an interesting mix of other footwear brands including a large selection of sneaker brands -even though FN Platform was going on at the WWD show at the Las Vegas Convention Center at the same time. Many opted for a couple of different booths at several shows, but it is telling that heritage brands such as Red Wing and Palladium were at (capsule), as well as New Balance, PF Flyers, Pony, K-Swiss, Etnies Plus, and Clae.

RVCA, which also tends to float the line between street, art, and action sports inspired apparel, showcased their EW or Erin Wasson collaboration at (capsule) which says something about how such brands are moving into other crossover markets. Originally, this type of show featured brands like Henrik Vibskov from Denmark, &Park from Japan, Alex and Chloe, and of course BPMW’s Showroom of brands including Clae, Public School, Penfield, Shades of Grey by Micah Cohen, among others. But to cruise the halls today, it makes sense that the rockabilly inspired denim and apparel brand Comune would be there, along with classic Fremont, Idol Radec, Jake Spade, John Varvatos Star USA, Doppelganger, Bijules, the (Hugo) Boss’ Orange label, a revitalized Lightning Bolt, Naked and Famous Denim, a different side of Nike Sportswear, the ubiquitous Opening Ceremony, and the famous fair-trade brand from Ireland called Edun.

Freshjive was the most surprising as they debuted their new direction which is not streetwear at all. More designer, classic, no-logo-ed, the 21-year-old brand has a new designer, and extended distribution into a higher-end category.

As a reflection of their success, this time (capsule) took place in a much larger ballroom to accommodate the triple growth in the number of brands since their show last Fall, now estimated to be up around 200. Lounges, catered meals, DJ sets, and Fiji water rounded-out the pleasant atmosphere of this show, which has now become a necessity to attend for anyone looking for new directions in fashion, footwear, and accessories.

Overall, we tend to pick up on the details of fashion trade shows because it’s here where you can see if the producers of a show care personally about their event or if their intention is coming from another type of motivation. Like Bread & Butter Berlin, which oozes with cool details, (capsule), albeit on a smaller scale, also pays attention to details, ranging from their trade show furniture design by minimalist and eco-friendly designers 222 Projects, to the directory/magazine designed by Tina Berning, a Berlin based artist that illustrated through figurative drawings on found paper (capsule)’s theme “our community.” And of course, adding to (capsule’s) unique flavor what’s become the signature limited-edition “capsule” pendant by artist Gabriel Urist offered to attendees as their trade show badge for entrance.

DeNada out of Washington D.C. showcased new styles and knits in their scarves, hoods, and gloves which are more cross-gender this season. Recently featured on the Today Show, DeNada is riding an incredible wave of success.

Comune quickly became the location to hang-out at based on a reflection of their rockabilly-inspired denim and shirt designs, jackets, curious buyers, and generally cool people who work there.

Mishka took a chance and switched from S.L.A.T.E. to Capsule, which according to co-founder Greg, was a smart move for the brand.

SkinGraft Designs featured their amazing aviator-inspired apparel, jodhpurs, and accessories such as their leather holsters and these unique gloves with brass embellishments.

222 Projects built Capsule%uFFFDs displays, tables, and chairs. Check out the bungee cord square chair 222 Projects director is sitting on. Very eco-friendly and re-usable.