Capsule is a trade show that continues to have a strong following among brands that could loosely be classified as upper urbanwear, or high-end contemporary from a wide range of locations ranging from northern Europe to Japan to the USA. During the trade show season earlier this month, Capsule’s Vegas show featured a unique selection of exhibitors that provide details on where various segments of the fashion industry are headed.
One of the most prominent is a niche that’s growing which we call the Urban Explorer. Not the 90’s version of an SUV weekend warrio, but a new-school type of adventurer. Basically, it’s become a genre of its own and one that could inspire shows like Outdoor Retailer in the future. Here however, the genre encapsules fashion-forward young people who tend to prefer handcrafted backpacks with vintage materials, high-end outdoor gear that works well in a variety of locations, even survival cooking gear—whether one actually uses it or not.
To organize this growing trend, Capsule has created Above Tree Line where such brands ranging from packs and accessories to climbing apparel and high-end heritage boots and jackets reside within a section framed by Himalayan prayer flags to feature this fresh take on the outdoors, adventure, and survival gear.
Brands such as Hippy Tree, which crossover surfing with climbing are in this area as well as various urban farmer type brands such as Farm Tactics, Kletterworks, Poler Camping Stuff, Chop Wood Carry Water, and Snow Peak’s outdoor cooking utensils and survival accessories.
Other interesting crossovers are the new versions of Americana. Whereas in S.L.A.T.E. at Magic, camo tends to have a looser, streetwear style, here it’s more tailored and paired with Native American prints in suit jackets, for example. There’s an inspired section for buying booth and store accessories featuring old U.S. typewriter keys, twill letters from varsity jackets, old country fair ribbons, real camo jackets, turn-of-the-century women’s undergarments, recycled Western belts, old newspaper press letters, and recycled Native American print bags. And as if it couldn’t get any more American, one of the unique displays onsite featured a buffalo head, complete with home-on-the-range photographs encompassing the display.
Americana goes right along with the importance of heritage brands which at Capsule are in full force, as we’ve reported about in the last several trade show reviews. At Capsule you’ll see new displays for brands such as Hudson Bay Co. with old books on welcoming back the troops, survival kits in the Hudson Bay Co. colors, and of course their signature wool blankets. Other brands such as Wolverine 100 Mile, Kelty Vintage backpacks, Tanner Goods hiking boots, and raingear from Penfield provide a common thread to the show.
What’s also interesting is the variety of niche surf-inspired brands that have chosen Capsule as their location (many of which also exhibited at Agenda). For example, Deus ex Machina and their surf X retro moto vibe, Stussy Deluxe, Lifetime Collective, Lightning Bolt back on track with their collections of modern retro styles, Warriors of Radness and their surf war graphic T-shirts and colored denim collection, and Riviera Club’s latest collaboration with Lucky Brand.
Boutique buyers often come to Capsule to pick-up on new brands or to select from “capsule” collections from larger brands that tend to only show here. For example the show favors some high-end boutique denim brands, such as Naked and Famous and several Japanese brands. Two of the most popular are Momotaro Jeans and Japan Blue featuring retro stripes on the sleeves of denim jackets and back pockets. A variety or brands have also illustrated that pastel plaids and checkered prints, and prep colored chinos are back for Spring/Summer 2013, but slimmer and shorter, and inspired by cycling and boating.
Corresponding with the vibe of Capsule of course are the plethora of men’s grooming products including Imperial and their on-site shaving station, and brands such as Dr. Bonners Magic Soaps, and Otter Wax.
There are a handful of women’s brands worth mentioned, especially Edun, the fair-trade brand, as well as Pretty Penny, Madison Harding, and the latest from In God We Trust, but this is one area that could use a boost.
Overall, Capsule continues to be a fashion-forward show with a mix of inspirational displays and exhibitor options that forever keep buyers and fashion industry players on their toes with new product, styles, and trends.